This was the view from Lafayette's summit yesterday looking east to Mt. Washington and the Presidential Range. The ridge in the foreground includes the peaks of North and South Twin. S. Twin looks like it's nearly bald but it's just a measure of how much snow there is (roughly 6 feet above 4,000 ft.) and it's deep enough to cover the smaller trees completely.
A fair number of hikers were on the summit of Lafayette and strung across the ridge yesterday. It's a popular hike even in the winter and in the summer there are often hundreds of people on the summit on good days. Two of the people in this photo climbed the mountain without "traction", another word for crampons or other foot gear necessary for climbing on ice. The trails above tree line are exceptionally icy and dangerous. The two young men got up the mountain but were wondering how to get back down.
The hikers on the ridge yesterday were a diverse lot. There were even some folks there older than I am! There were a lot of Canadians and they're always great company. There were even two golden retrievers. The temperature on the summit at noon was probably between 0 and 10 degees F and there was a light northwesterly wind.
Black spruce (Picea marinara) is trying to invade the ridge and probably seeding upwards on the wind from Walker Ravine on the west side of Franconia Ridge. In this photo it's coming up out of a gully where it has soil (of sorts), moisture and wind protection. Black spruce has been able to established a few small "islands" along the ridge in protected sites like the one above and is probably right at the "edge" of its range. It's a frost hardy species but at 5,000 feet above sea level is close to it's ceiling in northern New England. The islands haven't changed much in size or density during the last 50 years but it will be interesting to see, relative to global warming, if the spruce is successful at expanding it's foothold.