Falling Waters Hike
November 2011

Hanz W1JSB and I hiked in Franconia Notch in the White Mountains today.
We operated on 10 meters with a short vertical and had quick QSOs
with Kansas and Florida.

We drove about an hour north to the Notch and pulled into the parking
lot at the Trailhead of the Falling Waters Trail which traverses
Franconia Ridge at the south end of Mt. Lafayette.

It was about 48F and sunny when we started off shortly before noon. We'd
had some rain last night and the trail was damp. The route criss-crosses
Walker Brook. The Appalachian Mountain Club Guide warns, "Use care
when the water is high." We soon found out why.

About 15 minutes into the hike we had to cross the brook. At first we thought,
"No way..." But Hanz checked it out and found a little makeshift bridge
someone had made out of a couple of logs. Hanz was brave and made the
crossing first. The logs were wet but we were relieved to find that they
weren't slippery.

Another 15 minutes or so of hiking found us at the first set of falls. This
area is aptly called The Stairs because of the step-like stones on the left
of the falls.

We continued toward the east and soon reached The Swiftwater Falls. At
this point the trail crosses the brook again. This is where the AMC Guide
caution rings true. There was no way to get across in the high water.

So we left the trail and bushwhacked our way up the steep mountain side.
We wanted to set up the rig and operate, but we were in a deep ravine
surrounded by hills. So we wound our way through the brush and fallen
trees and gained some elevation. Eventually we found a little outcropping
of rocks and a few ledges that seemed dry enough to sit on.

We threw our wire into a pine tree and settled on a ledge after connecting
a fifteen foot wire to the Par Endfed matchbox. We used Hanz's FT-817 at
2 and a half watts on 10 meters. He had a flat SWR. In less than a minute
Hanz tuned across a Kansas station calling CQ. Ted, W0KQC was a 579 and
he gave Hanz a 449. That was good enough to complete the exchange and
after a quick chat Hanz signed. We were pretty pleased because we were
only 3/4 of the way up the hill and still surrounded by mountains on all

Hanz passed me the key and I went down the band a bit and found K4GXY
calling CQ. John answered me and gave me a 559. He was 599 from
Lakeland, Florida. "UR 2W DOING FB HR," he sent. We chatted a while
and signed.

The trip downhill was faster than the uphill trek. It started to sprinkle about
half-way down and when we saw rain clouds across the valley, we thought
we were going to get a good drenching. But it was over just as quickly as it
started and we stayed dry. The weather is bound to turn cold before long.
Our next outings will probably be on cross-country skis.