Monday, May 20, 2013

Epic Hikes: Kinsman and Cannon

Back in July of 2007, John had been coaching me on hiking opportunities and I went on one of my first 4000ft hikes with my two boys.  When I wrote about it I noted that I’d probably have to redo it if I intended to get all of the 48 4000ft mountains.

This weekend we were preparing for an epic hike that will come up in June (no doubt it will be worthy of a separate writeup).  To prepare for this  we have needed to get some real mileage and have been building up over the past 5 weekends from 8miles to 11.8 and then this one - a 13.8mile walk up North Kinsman, South Kinsman and then Cannon Mountain.

It was very interesting to hike this again (at least all the way up to North Kinsman) - I particularly remembered how tired the boys and I felt just in the first section, going up to Lonesome Lake - which is probably about a quarter of the way up the side of the mountain.

I was feeling pretty strong for the first peak this time and we made good time.  The extra hikes we have been doing (one each weekend) have been paying off and although I have the obligatory aches, swollen feet and sore knee joints on the way down, I was able to maintain a fairly good pace for the hike up the two Kinsman peaks.  John and Bruce generously allow me to set the pace…. (well it isn’t so much generosity as an attempt not to have me get left behind because they both naturally walk uphill quite a bit faster than I do).

South Kinsman was not bad either - the elevation drop and then the gain between the two peaks is not too bad and we made good time there as well.  The list of 48 4000ft mountains includes a notion of what they call “prominence” which excludes bumps in mountains above 4000 ft by only counting peaks that have at more than a 200ft elevation loss and gain between them.  The loss between these two is 384ft.

We had to go to South Kinsman and then come back and summit North Kinsman a second time on our way to Cannon.

Unbelievably, this close to June we found quite a lot of snow and ice on the ground but were able to navigate around the edges of it without having to put our microspikes on.

There was plenty of evidence of the destructive power of the winds up there.  This past year was particularly bad with hurricane Sandy making her way up into New Hampshire and laying waste to large swaths of trees.

It is very interesting to see how the wind ends up getting funneled in one particular corridor in the mountain where there is suddenly a carpet of large trees all broken like this one.  This picture is of one of the smaller trees but shows how it was snapped like a twig by the wind.

Cannon mountain was a tough end to the hike.  Unlike the shallow trough between the two Kinsman’s, the hike down from North Kinsman to Cannon was long and pretty steep and, although we didn’t quite go all the way down to the road level, it felt like we went almost all the way down before coming back up.

The walk up again was steep too and I was starting to feel fairly tired by the time we made the summit of Mnt Cannon.  Apparently the total elevation gain/loss here is 2100ft.

This is a ski resort and has a lift and a cafeteria on the other side.  There is also a tower at the top  that you can climb and I was able to take a great panorama from there of the road below with Franconia ridge in the distance.  The platform in the foreground left is the tower.’

Unfortunately, the cafetaria was not open  - an energy drink was sorely needed at this time - and we took a very steep trail (High Cannon trail) back down to the parking lot.

I was tired enough to forget to photograph the steep, long ladder that you have to climb down at one point near the top of Cannon as you descend this steep trail.

As John always says at the end:  ”We cheated death one more time”.  :-)

You can see the full slide show here.