THE KINSMANS: 3/5/10
With a bluebird forecast for this Friday, John, Marty and I agreed it would be a fine day for the Kinsmans. Temps would be near 40 in the valleys and in the 20s up on the ridges. As I drove north on I-93, I made a short side loop up through the Basin parking area, where you get a peek at North Kinsman peering over a nearby slope. The peak looked invitingly white against the deep blue sky.
We started off a little after 9:00 from Lafayette Place. The heavily-used Lonesome Lake Trail was hard-packed and we soon put on our Microspikes for the steady, switchbacking climb to the lake.
The morning views were stellar from the east shore of the lake, looking across at North Kinsman...
...and South Kinsman with Lonesome Lake hut below.
The lake was well-frozen and carpeted with windpacked snow. We put on our snowshoes and followed the well-used track across, with a rather biting breeze coming down from the NW.
The classic view of the Franconias greeted us at the western side.
The cameras received a workout today.
It was quiet at the hut on this Friday morning.
The next 1.9 miles would be on the Fishin' Jimmy Trail, built in 1930 and named after a character in a short story by Annie Trumbull Slosson, a local writer. Few hikers I know rank this among their favorite trails due to its many PUDs (pointless ups and downs), wet footing, and steep, rough bursts of climbing. It's a more enjoyable trail in winter, when the rocky, slippery footing is covered up, though the PUDs are just as tiring on snowshoes.
The Fishin' Jimmy had a nice softly-packed snowshoe track, thanks to Peter C. (solo) and Bob H. and friend, who had all trekked to the Kinsmans the previous day. Bob also cleared out some blowdowns and eye-poking branches.
The first mile above the hut gains very little elevation, but has five significant downs on the way "up." There are some nice open "salt-and-pepper" (birch-and-fir) woods as you slab along the lower slopes of the Middle Cannon Ball.
The upper mile of Fishin' Jimmy has some serious steep climbing; on some of the pitches wooden steps are pinned to the ledges. A few of these spots become ice bulges in the winter. Today they were all snow-covered except for this partly exposed bulge.
Some nice open fir woods, farther up the trail.
More steep climbing.
Near the top of the last climb we enjoyed this view from a blowdown opening along the trail.
Spruce traps awaited photographers looking for better angles.
At Kinsman Junction, Marty, who had visited Kinsman Pond the previous weekend, went fishing for the trail sign.
He found it!
As we climbed up the Kinsman Ridge Trail, we emerged in an open scrubby area with a look ahead to North Kinsman. The views are much enhanced on these ridgetop trails in late winter.
A distant SE view, with the little knoll that holds in Kinsman Pond in the foreground.
A day to be profligate with the cameras.
Higher up there were more views from a fir wave area, this one looking NW over the Easton valley to distant peaks in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom.
Looking NE over the Cannon Balls and Cannon, with the Pilot and Pliny Ranges on the horizon.
Visibility was excellent today - 120 miles on the Mt. Washington Observatory's morning report. To the west we could clearly see snowy Mt. Mansfield and the Stowe ski slopes. Later, from South Kinsman, we would would catch a binocular-aided glimpse of Dix Mountain and Hough Peak in New York's Adirondacks, spied through Lincoln Gap to the left (south) of Vermont's Mt. Abraham. Other distant peaks seen today included Old Speck and Elephant Mtn. in Maine, the Sutton Mtns. in Quebec, Jay Peak in northern Vermont, Dorset Peak and Stratton Mtn. in southern Vermont, and Mt. Monadnock in southwestern NH.
From the flat summit ledge on North Kinsman, Marty and I took in the classic view east over Lonesome Lake to the Franconia Range, while John tracked a route down a side path to a lower ledge where he could look straight down on Kinsman Pond.
Lunch break on the North Kinsman ledge, in the sun and out of the wind. Later we chatted with a pair of hikers on their way back from South Kinsman.
The view of the lower Franconia Range from our lunch table, with the broad basin of Cascade Brook spread out below.
Looking SE to the Sandwich Range, Osceola, Loon and Tecumseh.
The Kinsman Ridge Trail offers a couple of fine views as it descends off North Kinsman, including this look ahead at South Kinsman.
Ridgetop forest snowshoeing at its best, through open glades on the shoulder of South Kinsman.
Nearing the summit of South Kinsman, we paused to admire this vista back to North Kinsman casting a mid-afternoon shadow on Kinsman Pond.
From the north knob of South Kinsman, the more open south knob - which has a large cairn and is considered to be the main summit by most hikers - had an alpine look.
John snowshoes across the shallow saddle between the knobs.
How could you not smile on this beautiful summit, on a day like this.
View east to Carrigain popping up between Liberty and Flume, with Hancock to the R.
The whitened crags of Bondcliff peer over the ridge south of Little Haystack, with Mt. Bond to the L.
From the E edge of South Kinsman we peered down at the wild desolation of Bog Pond, overlooked by the gloomy ridges of Mt. Wolf.
The great trailless SE ridge of South Kinsman sprawls out towards the Pemigewasset valley. The late Guy Waterman deemed this bushwhack route as one of the more difficult of those he traversed in his epic four-points-of-the-compass-in-winter tour through the 4000-footers.
In the photo below is the highest of many knobs on this SE ridge. The day after this hike, bushwhacking master J.R. Stockwell stopped by the store, by early afternoon having completed an ascent of the "Lincoln's Throat" slide/gully to Mt. Lincoln, on snowshoes (!) and ice axes/tools, and descent by Falling Waters Trail. I knew J.R. had been up the SE ridge of South Kinsman, and asked him if there were any views on this highest bump, on which we had seen large white patches the day before. Come to find out J..R. has done this ridge twice, both times solo in winter - once coming up the S spur from Bog Pond and the other time ascending the NE spur from Cascade Brook. Yes, he remembered, in winter there were views from a large rock on this knob and from blowdown areas nearby. But the scrub between there and the summit of South Kinsman was thick.
From the E edge of South Kinsman we could look down on my hometown of Lincoln. I'd been eyeing South Kinsman from there all winter and finally made it up. It was odd to see the bare ground down in the valley in early March, while we had been snowshoeing through ridgetop woods where the snow was four to five feet deep.
We made a short foray south on the Kinsman Ridge Trail, breaking trail down through a slight col and out to a sloping snowy ledge area where we could look down on tiny, hidden Harrington Pond, with Mt. Moosilauke beyond.
Harrington Pond, seldom visited in winter. In the early 1990s I joined three friends on a south-to-north winter traverse of the Kinsmans via Reel Brook Trail/Kinsman Ridge Trail/Mt. Kinsman Trail. Along the way we made a short side trip to snowshoe back and forth across Harrington Pond. What a spot!
Marty and John climbing back up to the summit of South Kinsman.
The broad, snow-caked summit dome.
Wind-sculpted drifts point towards North Kinsman.
It's a great day to be in the hills!
A beautiful open glade on the South Kinsman shoulder.
Late afternoon sun lights up Franconia Ridge....
...and the broad bulk of South Kinsman.
Thanks for a great day, guys!