Thursday, November 18, 2010
THE LONG WAY TO LONESOME LAKE: 11/16/10
I wanted to walk some trail segments in Franconia Notch that I hadn't been on in a while, so I came up with a longish loop that would take me up past the ever-beautiful Lonesome Lake.
I parked at the southbound Basin lot on the parkway and followed the graded path down to The Basin.
It may be a "touristy" spot, but it's still pretty neat.
From here I headed south on the Pemi Trail, which parallels the Pemigewasset River and the Parkway through much of the Notch. Upside of this trail: nice woods and river scenery, mostly easy walking. Downside: highway noise, sometimes closer, sometimes farther away. And a few rough, muddy stretches.
A short distance south of the Basin is this formation called the "Baby Flume."
Farther along, you have to cross Cascade Brook - rarely an easy crossing, and quite difficult in high water.
After making the easier crossing of Whitehouse Brook on the Pemi Trail, I turned R on the Cascade Brook Trail and reversed direction, now heading N. This trail has some nice graded sections through hardwood forest.
At this trail's crossing of Whitehouse Brook, there is a pretty cascade just downstream; you can see it from a high bank on the south side, only 30 yards below the trail.
I crossed the brook and went a little farther up the trail, then made a bushwhack diversion to the W, following Whitehouse Brook upstream. The objective was an open ledgy swath on the brookbed that my bushwhacking buddy John Compton had discovered last year. It was, as John had reported, a pretty neat little opening in the forest, with the brook sliding down along its S side.
At the upper edge of the slab the brook tumbles over a small cascade.
Returning to the Cascade Brook Trail, I continued N to the bridge over Cascade Brook by the junction with the Basin-Cascades Trail.
The morning's murky skies were clearing, opening a view to Little Haystack Mtn. across the Notch.
The Cascade Brook Trail follows the brook upstream, with some rocky/muddy stretches and other more pleasant sections like this.
A pretty cascade and pool just before the junction with Kinsman Pond Trail.
Just above that junction is a nice area of slabs on the brook, good place for a break.
From here to Lonesome Lake the Cascade Brook Trail is relentlessly rough and rocky, not one of my favorite sections.
The south shoulder of Cannon Mtn. looms above a pool as you approach Lonesome Lake.
New bridge work along the Fishin' Jimmy Trail as it crosses the pond's outlet.
Reports from the previous weekend indicated that the pond was iced over, but a couple of warm days had opened it up, and there was only a small area of ice left in the SE corner.
The skies had cleared beautifully, revealing the classic Franconia Range vista from the dock below the hut. I took a long lunch break here in the warm (for November) sun. It was very calm and quiet, no one around except for the caretaker up by the hut, splitting some wood. Out on the pond were three Common Goldeneyes, diving ducks also known as "Whistlers" for the whistling sound they make in flight.
The friendly caretaker, Mac, came down to the dock. Turns out we had met in my store the day before. With the surface newly ice-free, he hauled out an aluminum canoe stashed in the woods by the dock and took a leisurely paddle around the pond. When he offered me the chance to do the same, I couldn't resist. What a treat to see Lonesome Lake from a new perspective! We both noted how shallow the pond was on its northern side.
Back on land, I bid Mac farewell and continued my hike on the Around-Lonesome-Lake Trail, soon arriving at the best view of the Franconia Range.
One of the reasons I chose today's route was to check out the extensive strings of new plank walkways placed across the boggy terrain by the AMC trail crew in 2009. What an amazing job - what was previously a rather tedious slippery and mucky traverse is now a delight to walk on, with plenty of opportunity to take in the beautiful bog, pond, and mountain scenery.
Looking across the bog at the Northeast Cannon Ball.
Mt. Liberty can be seen to the SE.
New trail signs adorned the major junction on the E shore of Lonesome Lake.
I stepped down to the muddy shore for a late afternoon vista across to the Kinsmans.
Next I followed the Dodge Cutoff, a wild, lightly-used connector leading across to the Hi-Cannon Trail.
I turned R to descend this trail towards Lafayette Campground. I enjoy the many little twists and turns of this trail more than the long, monotonous switchbacks of the Lonesome Lake Trail below the pond.
The gravelly Hi-Cannon does have some erosion issues, though not as bad as the washouts on the Kinsman Ridge Trail heading up from the Tramway parking area.
I walked southward on a road through Lafayette Campground to where the Pemi Trail enters the woods.
This is my favorite stretch of the Pemi Trail. It has good footing, leads right alongside the river through fine hardwood forest, and for some distance is farther from the Parkway, with the highway noise less intrusive.
Not far from the campground, you get a view of the confluence of Walker Brook, draining from Mt. Lafayette, and the Pemi River.
A typical river scene along the Pemi Trail. Returning to The Basin near dusk completed a very nice 7+ mile loop.