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Lake Escapes: Lonesome Lake ‘well worth the hike’

  • Katie Jette, Brad Brubaker and their 1-year-old German Shepherd Riker. Jette used to hike Lonesome Lake as a child and this was the first time she brought her fiance, Brubaker, on this hike. This was only Riker's second hike ever. That red bag that Brubaker is holding is Riker's backpack.<br/>(SUSAN DOUCET / Monitor staff)

    Katie Jette, Brad Brubaker and their 1-year-old German Shepherd Riker. Jette used to hike Lonesome Lake as a child and this was the first time she brought her fiance, Brubaker, on this hike. This was only Riker's second hike ever. That red bag that Brubaker is holding is Riker's backpack.
    (SUSAN DOUCET / Monitor staff)

  • Lonesome Lake looking east.<br/>(SUSAN DOUCET / Monitor staff)

    Lonesome Lake looking east.
    (SUSAN DOUCET / Monitor staff)

  • Trail marker for Lonesome Lake trail.<br/>(SUSAN DOUCET / Monitor staff)

    Trail marker for Lonesome Lake trail.
    (SUSAN DOUCET / Monitor staff)

  • Katie Jette, Brad Brubaker and their 1-year-old German Shepherd Riker. Jette used to hike Lonesome Lake as a child and this was the first time she brought her fiance, Brubaker, on this hike. This was only Riker's second hike ever. That red bag that Brubaker is holding is Riker's backpack.<br/>(SUSAN DOUCET / Monitor staff)
  • Lonesome Lake looking east.<br/>(SUSAN DOUCET / Monitor staff)
  • Trail marker for Lonesome Lake trail.<br/>(SUSAN DOUCET / Monitor staff)

The small docks at the lakeshore were crowded at midday with people eating lunch, relaxing in the sunshine and resting from their trek to reach this small, beautiful body of water. Children laughed and played, a few people waded into the warm water and ducks waited for people to toss food their way, despite signs discouraging feeding them.

Although at a lakeshore in mid-July, most of these sunbathers are not in swimsuits and none sit in beach chairs. Instead, most wear boots and carry backpacks. To reach this view, they walked farther than from a beach parking lot; they hiked more than a mile up a mountain.

Lonesome Lake, 2,760 feet above sea level, sits along the Appalachian Trail and is a respite for thru-hikers and a destination for day hikers.

“I used to come here when I was very young,” said Katie Jette, a day hiker. “I haven’t been back to this hike in years We haven’t been back to this particular site in a long time, but it was well worth the hike.”

Jette, her fiance, Brad Brubaker, and their 1-year-old German shepherd, Riker, hiked Lonesome Lake Trail at the start of a weekend camping at Beech Hill Campground. The trail, although short, is a bit steep; hikers gain about 1,000 feet of elevation in the 1.6 miles from the start of the trail – off the Lafayette Campground parking lot – to the lakeshore.

Brubaker, a native of Florida, had only been on two previous hikes – Lonesome Lake Trail not one of them – and Riker had only been on one prior hike. “He’ll join us on all of our hikes now,” Jette said about Riker, who carries his own backpack.

Located within Franconia Notch State Park, Lonesome Lake is also the site of an Appalachian Mountain Club hut. The hut is staffed by five crew members, spelled “croo” by the staff. “None of us know what that (spelling) denotes, but it’s kind of indicative of the fact that a lot of people see this as a very interesting, unique job,” said Scott Berkley, a croo member at Lonesome Lake Hut.

“We get a lot of day traffic here because it’s so close to the highway and it’s a great place for families to bring their younger children,” said Grace

Pezzella, another croo member. “And as far as overnight attendance goes, we’ve been having some higher counts. We’re full every weekend and the weeks have been filling in as well.”

“There’s a mix,” Berkley said. “We certainly see a few thru-hikers every day; they kind of come through in a little trickle. But we see a lot of people who are just up here for the day. It’s kind of a popular, shorter day hike. . . . We do get a certain number of people who are here to stay overnight, usually with their families. But I’d say we get a lot more people who are just here for the day, and never actually stay overnight.”

Capable of sleeping 48 occupants, the bunkhouses have been full every weekend and filling in during the week, Pezzella said.

Ethan Ord, 17, of Toronto and Liam Blackie, 15, of Ottawa were some of the hikers filling the hut during the week. Ord and Blackie, cousins, hiked to the lake in the rain July 15 with Blackie’s sister, Ord’s two sisters and mother, and their grandfather. The family hikes in the area each summer, and Ord said the hike to Lonesome Lake was “not that challenging, but it was a fun, scenic route.”

“I always like staying in the huts because it’s a change from staying at home. There’s no electricity – you don’t even get napkins at dinner. So if you spill, they bring over a rag. There’s two, but it’s kind of communal and you share them. It’s kind of weird so no one really uses them in general.” Ord said. “It’s good, and the croo’s always great.”

Derek Reichstadt, a thru-hiker, rested at the hut on the tepid, sunny afternoon, but did not stay at Lonesome Lake Hut that night. Reichstadt, 25, planned to hike at least 9 miles more that day to continue to Eliza Brook Shelter or Beaver Brook Shelter.

“I started in Maine and I’m going down to Georgia. Most people start in Georgia and they head up to Maine, so I’m going against the grain,” Reichstadt said, as he sat outside the hut drinking water and looking at trail maps, before continuing south.

Easily accessible and not overly time consuming, Lonesome Lake Trail is well deserving of a day hike, but the croo members said that hikers just passing through only experience a portion of the environment’s beauty.

“The morning light and the evening light are both pretty amazing. . . . Otherwise, I think you would miss a lot of the wildlife around here – they tend to come out in the crepuscular hours, so called, dawn or dusk. We’ll see moose, we’ll see many a deer, and we’ve got a resident family of ducks,” Berkley said. “Definitely if you want the full experience, it’s great to come here overnight.”

(Susan Doucet can be reached at 369-3324 or sdoucet@cmonitor.com.)

Legacy Comments1

Yeah, it's a nice spot alright, but when I went by there Saturday there were hundreds of cars parked at the trailhead. Consider that, for your wilderness experience.

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