Archive for October, 2010

North and South Kinsman, #29 and #30; 10/23/2010

Having  a free Saturday to hike, I chose to hike the Kinsmans.  The weather was trending towards clearing and the views of the snow-covered Franconia ridge promised to be good.   The Kinsmans were also the only two peaks I needed to finish all the peaks on either side of Franconia Notch and I could bag both peaks in one trip.  I chose to hike via the Lonesome Lake, Fishin Jimmy and Kinsman Ridge Trails, a 10 mile round trip.

I arrived at Lafayette Place Campground around 7:30a, enjoying the full moon in the west and the sunrise in the east on the trip up the I-93 to the trailhead.  Along the way I also saw some wildlife which at first I thought it was a rather large black dog, but somehow the body was too bulky.  As I got nearer and slowed to a stop, I realized it was a black bear and watched it cross the freeway right in front of my car and head up the hill on the other side.

The scenery at Lafayette Place Campground was definitely late fall.  The deciduous trees had already dropped their leaves, but there wasn’t any snow on the ground.  The trip up to Lonesome Lake was pretty uneventful, with just a little snow clinging to the ground and some thin ice in spots around the log bridges near the lake.   In less than an hour I was at Lonesome Lake Hut and after a quick chat with the caretaker, I was on my way up the Fishin Jimmy trail.  As I progressed up the trail, the snow and ice started to increase and there were definitely some slippery parts.  There were no other prints on the trail, so it looked like I was the first person up the trail that day.

Part way up, another solo hiker caught up with me.  It turned out that we ended up hiking together the rest of the way, and it was a good thing.  As the ice and steepness increased, there were some slippery challenges that were nice to have another person to watch out for you and help make decisions on the safest way to get over the ledges.   We arrived at  the summit of North Kinsman in good time, around 11:00a or so, and didn’t see another person until on the way to South Kinsman; he had already been over there and we’re guessing he came up a different trail than we did.  The hiker we saw was wearing microspikes and at that point it was a really smart idea to put on and use the microspikes I had brought along.  There was a nice covering of snow, and quite a bit of ice, which made the microspikes a good traction choice.  On the way down, we when saw quite a few other hikers, many of them were wearing the microspikes, too.


Franconia Ridge and Lonesome Lake from the summit of North Kinsman

Mts. Liberty and Flume at the far south end of Franconia Ridge as seen from the summit of North Kinsman

After taking some pictures we headed over to both knobs of  South Kinsman and were treated to 360 degree views.  The wind and temperatures were not nearly as bad as we were expecting after reviewing the weather reports and hearing the wind in the trees.  In fact, many clouds were clearing out while we were on the summits.  The clouds had lifted off of Moosilauke, allowing fine views of the broad snow covered summit.

Cairn on the south knob of South Kinsman

The broad snow-capped summit of Moosilauke as seen from South Kinsman

The clouds were just starting to lift off of the Franconia Ridge, opposite from the Kinsmans, leaving just Lincoln and Lafayette shrouded.  It was certainly a good taste of the beauty winter, and I was a little bit sorry to leave it behind and hike back down into late fall.  My hiking partner reminded me that winter would come to our own homes soon enough, and isn’t that true!

Looking back to North Kinsman on the left and Cannon with the tram station on the right

At the summit of South Kinsman with Liberty and Flume behind me

The clouds continuing to lift off of the Franconia Ridge

We quickly moved down the trail, meeting and greeting many small groups of hikers on their way up to the summits.  It is always nice to hike early, enjoy the summits before they get too busy and be on your way home when everyone else is coming up.  We arrived back at the Lonesome Lake Hut in one piece, with only a few slips here and there on ice and probably a few new bruises.  Meanwhile, the clouds had completely  lifted off of the Franconia Ridge and we were treated to some amazing views across Lonesome Lake.

Snow-capped Franconia Ridge as seen from across Lonesome Lake

A close-up of the snow filled ravines and summit of Mt. Lafayette

After a quick snack and picture session, it was quick trip down to the cars, arriving a little after 3:00p!  What a great day!  I did not start the hike with a partner, but it was nice to meet someone, share the journey, views, and experiences in hiking and life.  I am always amazed at the friendliness of the hiking community, when just passing each other on the trail or unexpectedly sharing a trip together.  If you’re reading this, thank you Alan for a memorable trip!

North Twin, #28; 10/9/2010

North Twin was the only peak I needed to finish all the peaks from Mt. Garfield all the way around the Pemi Wilderness through to Mt. Willey.  Since the round trip wasn’t too long at 8.6 miles, I asked my son if he’d like to come along.  He was happy to come along on another adventure.

The weather wasn’t too bad, but it was a bit cloudy with the promise of the clouds lifting in the afternoon.  We set out plenty early because I wanted to have enough time to hike without hurrying my son along.  We were on the trail at 7:30a, headed toward the first stream crossing.  Now, there is a bushwhack that will take  you from the the first crossing to the third crossing without having to cross at all.  Since I had never been on this trail, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  The crossing didn’t look too promising, and while my son and I debated and prayed about how to cross the river, a group of four showed up.  I asked if they were using the bushwhack and could we come along.  They were happy to let us trail along behind, not exactly the answer we were seeking, but we were able to skip the first two crossings.  Soon enough, we were at the the third stream crossing.

The water was cold and there was no way we weren’t going to have wet feet.  I was hoping that the water at the third crossing would be low enough so that we didn’t get wet, but that wasn’t the case.  Since we didn’t bring sandals, wet feet it was.  My son had extra socks, and when layered with a couple of repurposed gallon size ziplock bags from our packs (there are good reasons for packing in ziplocks besides keeping the contents dry!), his feet were ok for the rest of the hike.

Once we were ready to go, we started the second part of the hike.  There were a few times when my son wasn’t sure whether he wanted to continue the hike.  I assured him that we could turn back at any time, with no regrets and no problems.  I reminded him that many climbers make it very close to the summit of Everest and have to turn around without a summit and that while it is disappointing, it is ok to go home.  After a rest, he asked to hike on about 15 more minutes and then see how he felt.  Twenty minutes passed and he was happily hiking up the steep section and chatting away, so I didn’t mention that the time was up.  The steep section really isn’t that long, at about .5 mile, and wasn’t as steep as we thought.  We sat down for a snack, and while chewing on his partially frozen granola bar mentioned that eating his bar that this would be a good way to get those loose molars that he has to come out.  Obviously, his sense of humor was intact and he was feeling much better.

The temperature was continuing to drop as we hiked up and soon enough we started to see frost, icicles and rime ice.  My son kept asking if it was snow, and I told him it was just a bit of frost.  The grade became very easy after the steep section and we headed through a nice corridor of evergreens towards the trail junction of North Twin Trail and North Twin Spur (which leads to the South Twin summit).  We took the side trail labeled “View” from the junction to the summit.  About half way down this little trail, my son turned around with half a smile and said, “I don’t think I can make it.  Can we go back to the car?”.  Of course, he was only kidding, he knew the little side trail was very short.

After adding another jacket layer in addition to the fleeces we were already wearing we popped out of the trees onto the ledges and enjoyed the summit views.  It was nice to have some views, because I wasn’t sure whether we’d have any at all due to some of the cloud cover.


Frost and rime ice already forming on the trees on the ledges.



At the cairn on the ledges.




View from North Twin; South Twin is to the left in the clouds with Guyot/Bonds behind it and Galehead and Galehead Hut is on the right, with the large mass of Owl's Head behind it. Further in the distance on the right are the sharp peaks of Flume and Liberty with the u-shaped col between them.



To the right of Galehead is Garfield Ridge and Garfield, already in the sunlight. Behind Garfield in the clouds is Lafayette and Lincoln.



To the west of Garfield, overlooking the valley.


We headed back down to the trail junction to eat our lunch.  My son commented that he had never had a crunchy cheese sandwich.  Of course, it was a bit frozen. Since we weren’t getting any warmer sitting around, we decided to head back down the trail to generate a little body heat and get back to warmer temperatures.

The trip down was pretty uneventful, and we chatted with the groups headed up and out to Galehead Hut or Guyot Shelter while we headed down towards the stream crossing.  The water was a little lower making the crossing easier, and although we got wet again, we both thought the water was a bit warmer.  We were a little anxious about the bushwhack, but we made it through and was back at the car in good time.  I think the bushwhack or herd path might be easier to follow in the spring or summer.   Because it is autumn the trail is covered in leaves, making it a little harder to figure out where the herdpath actually is.


Back at the trailhead, after a good hike.


Overall, we had a very good day and a good ending to what will probably be my son’s last 4K this season.  Although I know it is possible to hike with children in the winter, extra care must be taken to make sure they stay warm, hydrated and fueled.  Since many of the peaks that I have left are longer treks and even longer due to road closures, I’m going to keep him off the trails until next May or June.   Besides, I’ve promised him a trip to Mt. Washington with a stay at Lakes of the Clouds Hut next summer.  Let’s hope they don’t have cream of mushroom soup that night!


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