David Howland Photo

Sunset at Lonesome Lake

15 January 2021

Filed under: White Mountains, Hiking, Timelapse

My second winter sunset hike of 2021 took me to Franconia Notch State Park and the trail up to Lonesome Lake. I’ve hiked up to Lonesome Lake many times but never in the winter. As I geared up at the car I was excited to see clouds moving across the tops of Franconia Ridge. Conditions were right for beautiful alpenglow. A couple of snowstorms in the week leading up to my hike had left the mountains coated in a thick layer of snow.

The Lonesome Lake Trail does not waste any time crossing a bridge through the Lafayette Place campground and climbing steeply up the west wall of Franconia Notch. Several cascades cross the trail in the first half mile or so - these were barely trickles in the winter. The trail was choked with snow and well packed down and I was very glad for my microspikes.

After a quick but steep mile and a half the trail reaches Lonesome Lake. Although the lake appeared solidy frozen and had many footsteps way out on the ice, I didn’t trust it and followed the trail around the lake instead. There are beautiful views all around the lake with Cannon Mountain, the Cannonballs, and the Kinsman Mountains rising to the west.

A third of the way around the lake is Lonesome Lake Hut, a backcountry cabin and bunk room operated by the Appalachian Mountain Club. It’s usually bustling in the summer with hikers, sunbathers, and swimmers scattered around. I much preferred it in the winter with the hut boarded up and the lake and walking paths deserted. I continued past the hut a few hundred feed and found a spot along the shore of the lake to setup my camera for a timelapse. At this point it was pretty clear that sunset wasn’t going to be anything special so I was hoping to capture the clouds rolling along the peaks of Franconia Ridge across the pond.

One of the biggest challenges I face doing long timelapse sequences is keeping myself entertained while the camera takes pictures. I decided to explore the rest of the trail around the pond. Despite making many trips to Lonesome Lake, I’d never hiked all the way around the pond. I found a couple cool sections of boardwalk and a copse of extremely snowy trees that looked dramatic in the long light of the evening.

After a circumnavigation of the pond and a few laps back and forth to the hut and back to keep myself warm, my timelapse finished and it got fully dark. I packed up and hiked back down to my car in the dark. When I got home I put together the timelapse below.

My favorite part of the timelapse is at 18 seconds when the clouds form a line of curling waves breaking upon the peaks.

I also used one of the frames from the timelapse to make this panorama of the Franconia Notch coated in snow above a frozen Lonesome Lake. This is the image I had in mind when I planned this trip albeit with a bit more orange sunset alpenglow.

This photo looks phenomenal printed on canvas and I just printed off the first notecard with this image as well. Click the button below if you’d like a print of this image and click here to learn more about my printing options.

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