Monday, January 7, 2013

W48-in-1: Cannon & The Kinsmans - 1/5/13

It was cold, windy, and there was no one else around as I reached the summit of Cannon Mountain on Saturday morning for my 48th solo White Mountain 4000-footer. I've done about 1/3 of all my hiking solo. I wasn't really shooting for this, but after looking at it some time ago, I realized I had only a handful left. It's pretty exciting. I've done some absolutely amazing hikes in the White Mountains solo. Its a rewarding feeling that is often quite different than when you reach a summit with someone else or a group. Its a greater challenge, but one I've welcomed. I've had some of my best moments, views, and experiences hiking these peaks solo through all seasons. Now to the hike....shall we?

The drive up from MA was very early, and it was uneventful until I hit Lincoln, where it was snowing and blowing like crazy. I pulled into the Lafayette Campground. I sat in the car, as it looked like a blizzard outside. Gee, I knew there would be some snow that morning, but I seriously didn't want to get out of the car. I dozed for about an hour and a half staying toasty for a bit longer. Thankfully the trees behind me didn't snap, and as the sun was rising, I finally got geared up. I'm so glad I waited, because it would have been a lot tougher to get going.

I headed up into the campground area, and took the Lonesome Lake Trail to the Hi-Cannon Trail. I'm glad I chose this starting point. One, so I could red-line the Hi-Cannon Trail, but second of all, because the trail was really nice. It was a nice switch compared to the Kinsman Ridge ascent from the tram lot. It was perfect for this last solo ascent. I had a peek-a-boo view of Flume and Franconia Notch from one of the ledges above the ladder. Shortly after that I made it to the Kinsman Ridge Trail where it was a nice easy walk to the summit of Cannon Mountain.
Flume & Franconia Notch from Hi-Cannon Trail
Kinsman Ridge Trail junction on Cannon 
Cannon Mountain summit
I remember the last time I went from Cannon to the Kinsmans, and the back-side of Cannon was a like an icy death trap. This time it wasn't so bad. I was able to carefully maneuver myself down, and I also saw a broken-out bypass around the area I questioned. Although it was dusted over nicely, it was a nice relief to have at decently broken out trail passing over the Cannonballs. I saw exactly where I had lost trail last time. I can't believe how close to the trail it was, but I remember those 30 or so minutes that time; it wasn't fun not being able to find the trail in this remote section. This time I had no problem whatsoever. I passed over the Northeast Cannonball. It was my second time on this peak, and first time in winter. This peak is on the New England Hundred Highest list. Although it was cloudy and cold, I was getting occasional glimpses of the blue-sky above as I continued on.
Looking back to western slopes of Cannon Mountain 
Near the summit of NE Cannonball
With the powdered-over path as my company for the day, it allowed me to move forward confidently. There were also plenty of fresh blazes, it seemed. The trail in this section seems to get a little long, but you know you're super close when you hit the Kinsman junction. Just before that, I ran into the two hikers I met earlier who started about 10 minutes before me from the lot. Just a few moments later, I was on the summit of North Kinsman with a limited view. This summit of North Kinsman was a Trailwright summit for me, and the last I needed on the Kinsman Ridge.
Kinsman Ridge Trail between Cannonballs and N. Kinsman
Summit outlook of North Kinsman
After a super short break here, I was quickly on my way to South Kinsman. Knowing the hike out would be pleasant on the Fishin' Jimmy and I was on decent time, I was looking to wrap it up and be on my way down. I made it to the summit of South Kinsman. It was really cold - coldest all day, but I was getting a little better of a peek at Franconia Ridge, as the clouds lifted ever so slightly.
South Kinsman summit
Franconia Ridge from South Kinsman
Slightly closer look at Franconia Ridge
After that, it was pretty much a non-stopping descent until I reached Lonesome Lake Hut. Here, I took about a 10 minute break to enjoy the view. I did a quick time lapse of the view and took a few other photos. The sky had cleared up nicely, but it was still cold at the lake. This is a really a great piece of scenery and it would be nice to stay out here sometime. But, as nice as it was, I had some rest to get for the next day, so I was on my way.
Lonesome Lake and Franconia Ridge

This was a good one for me - I was on a roll as I knocked these three off. It was my last solo 48 hike, all were for my third round of the 48, all new grid peaks, one was a Trailwright, and then NE Cannonball in winter, and last but not least, 7-9 of 48 for this winter season. Feeling pretty good, I grabbed a bunch of food, and went back to Winnisquam to eat it and catch some sleep for another 10 miles and three peaks the following day.

Hike Stats:
Trails: Lonesome Lake Trail, Hi-Cannon Trail, Kinsman Ridge Trail, Fishin' Jimmy Trail
Distance: 12 mi.
Elevation Gain: 3,850 ft.
Actual Book Time: 8:10

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