Ethan’s Hikes for November 2017

Hancocks 11/04/2017, 10.5 miles, 2,987′ vert

On November 4th, four of us headed up into the Hancocks. It was one of the most rewarding hiking days I’ve ever experienced in the Whites. Why? We brought a 10″ folding saw paired with a can-do attitude and cleared out a lot of blowdowns along the way. We went over to Mt. Hancock first, clearing as we went. The walk across the ridge to South Hancock was where the nastiest bits of blowdowns were. We cleared what we could, but had to leave some behind for trail maintainers with heavier artillery.

Once on S. Hancock, we noticed we’d been out for over 5 hours, so we decided to put up our saw and head down the hill. As it turned out, that was just fine! There was nothing to clear on the way down. Even one spruce tangle we’d planned to clear on the way out was already gone. Someone else had already done what was required.

We stormed out after the steep descent and made it back to the car in just under 7 hours. A good day out, and unusual to have as much sawdust as mud decorating our hiking attire!

View from the lookout near Hancock. Nice little undercast rolling through.

Eric earned the nickname “Power Saw” this day.

Additional Notes

Belknaps 11/10/2017, 8.4 miles, 2,746′ vert

With a cold and windy day set for Friday the 10th, Eric and I headed into the Belknaps to do some trailbagging for me and peakbagging for him. The Whites didn’t feel like the right place to be with all of that wind, especially at elevation, so we stayed lower and closer to home while still getting in miles.

I’m almost done redlining the entire Belknaps, and bagged both the new Reed Road Trail and north-south section of the Klem-Mack Loop Trail well east of Round Pond that connects Klem and Mack. The area was all new to Eric, and on his first trip to the inner Belknaps, he bagged 8.4 miles of new-to-him trail, plus Mts. West Quarry, Rand, Klem, Mack and Anna. He already had Major (doesn’t every NH citizen?), so in one trip, he’s halfway to his BK12.

The wind sapped our energy on this hike. We started our trek around 32F or so, and ended the hike around 10 degrees colder. When we caught the wind, it really bit, blowing 30mph plus at times. When were on an open area of ledge, the exposure just wasn’t fun. Thankfully, trails in the Belknaps are sheltered much of the time, so we had a good time out overall, proving some of our winter load out along the way.

Mud freezing to my trekking poles.

Near the section of trail I needed to bag for the day.

Additional Notes

Cannon 11/11/2017, 4.37 miles, 2,582′ vert

Welcome to winter. Our short hike up Cannon was via the KRT from the parking lot. There was a solid inch plus of snow everywhere, plus lots of ice. We put on microspikes pretty quickly and kept them on for the rest of the day. The day was cold, in the low 20s throughout. The morning was a little cloudy and spitting light, icy snow–typical Franconia Notch weirdness.

As we climbed, we were mostly out of the wind. We hit the big overlook for some shots of Franconia ridge and caught a nasty gust, but other than that, wind wasn’t much of a problem. Still, I wore a Buff like a balaclava off and on as much for warmth as anything, and my frequent hiking companion Eric donned a half balaclava himself just before we climbed the last 300′ of vert to the summit.

By the time we hit the top, the clouds had lifted completely, although we still had the wind. We did a touch-and-go on top of the platform, and scurried down to get back into the trees.

The descent was mostly easy, with a few spots where we got low to the ground to avoid an unplanned slip ‘n’ slide. We spotted a few people headed up the KRT without traction. We don’t know how they did that, honestly. There were plenty of spots where the traction, even with spikes, was dodgy. Seemed foolish, but to each their own.

Big gust caught us on the overlook above the notch as we were admiring Franconia Ridge. Yikes!

Rime, clouds and bright sun as we drop into the col before the summit push.

Eric getting ready to do battle with the wind.

Agony Ridge and Mt. Lafayette. Greenleaf Hut hiding just out of sight, but I know it’s there!

Additional Notes

Kinsmans & Bald Peak 11/24/2017, 10.10 miles, 4,045′ vert

A classic fall-to-winter transition as we climbed the Kinsmans on this day from the NH Rt.116 side in Easton. We started on bare ground in bare boots well past the sugar shack on Mt. Kinsman Trail. Eventually, we put on microspikes, and climbed the rest of the way. The spur trail to Bald Peak and the section of the Kinsman Ridge Trail between the Kinsman peaks offered the most interesting challenges with tough icy footing and steep bits that required a little thought or butt sliding to negotiate.

The weather was kinder than expected. The temps never dropped below 30F, and the winds were calm. We’d expected 20+ mph winds along the ridge. Still, my phone froze up, and I missed out on some great pics as a result. Oh, well. Chemical hand warmers for the phone next time out.

Eric bagged peaks 9 and 10 for his 48 on this day.

Along Mt. Kinsman Trail. Light snow cover, minimal drama.

Nice vista from Bald Peak.

Looking up to Kinsman Ridge from Bald Peak. We observed footprints from the fearsome White Mountain Bunny Moose here.

Trying my best Zoolander impression, and Eric (zutfen.com) in the background. I’ll…uh…work on my impressions.

Additional Notes

Summary

For the grid, the Hancocks were 151 & 152, Cannon 153, and the Kinsmans 154 & 155–half of the ten peaks I was aiming for this month. I’d imagined a Z-Bonds traverse, but that just never worked out. Z-Bonds had the added complexity of a Zealand Road walkout due to the premature road closing because of the storm this November. From a grid perspective, I might as well wait for another November when the road is more likely to be open. Plus, weather wasn’t as cooperative as back in October. Add to that a minor kitchen renovation project I needed to finish before the holidays, and I didn’t get the miles in I was hoping for.

As I’m writing this, I’ve technically got another November day that I could get out and hike. However, I did a dumb thing in my home gym and attempted an overly heavy back squat, tweaking my right knee. A couple of days after that, I did a high-impact workout that included a 3 mile run on pavement. Really good for the knee, doncha know. The hike up and down the Kinsmans reminded me of my dumbness. I just need a day off my feet to let my knee settle back down. Therefore, I’m calling it done for November 2017.

Looking ahead to December, I’ve got 5 Saturdays plus several holiday and vacation days ahead of me. I only have 14 grid peaks in December, so there’s plenty of interesting hikes to choose from. If I’m really lucky, I’ll get a bluebird day to head into the Presis. I need all of them except Jackson. I need Passaconaface as well. The Moose and Osceolas are also interesting.

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