Monday, March 8, 2010

North Kinsman

Sunday morning, under a sunny and warm winter sky, we set off with three friends on the Lonesome Lake Trail. Our destination was North Kinsman; at 4,293-feet it is one of the 48 4,000-footers in New Hampshire. Expecting colder temperatures, we quickly shed layers as we steadily climbed three long switchbacks. The snow-covered trail was well-packed, a result of the huge popularity of this route into Lonesome Lake and beyond. We passed a steady stream of people coming out - many had stayed overnight at the Lonesome Lake Hut, which has bunks for 48 people. A not so lonesome spot!

After 1.2 miles we reached the frozen lake. In summer the trails skirt the lake shore, in winter the "trail" leads straight across the lake to the hut. People were coming and going. We stopped in the middle of the lake to look back at our first view of the snow-covered Franconia Ridge.

A Boy Scout troop was just leaving the hut as we arrived; they sounded a loud bull horn to gather the troops. Wilderness this is not. But the day was beautiful and everyone was in good spirits. After a brief rest at the hut, we set off on the next leg of the hike -- 2 miles on the Fishin' Jimmy Trail. This is a rugged climb, with many ups and downs, and several long, steep stretches. In winter the deep snow pack smooths out the trail, such that we did not notice mossy brooks, exposed ledges, and steps on the steeper parts. On our descent, we sat and slid down several sections of Fishin' Jimmy.

Near the end of a long, difficult climb on Fishin' Jimmy, the trees are shorter and open up a grand view of Mt. Lafayette, the highest point on Franconia Ridge.



We reached the top of North Kinsman in time for a late lunch. From a popular lunch ledge just below the peak, we soaked up the sun and the spectacular, sweeping view of the Franconia Ridge.

Franconia Ridge; Lonesome Lake -- one of our waypoints -- is in the middle of the photo
The valley bottoms are mostly bare of snow. The woods and higher elevations are still snow-covered. If you step off the snow-packed trail you can easily sink into three feet of snow. The trail markers and trail signs are buried under the deep snow.

 

We finished our 8-mile round trip hike in the late afternoon, under a clear blue sky. Although I've hiked many of the high peaks in summer, this was my first winter hike up a 4,000-footer. A fine start to what I hope will be many more winter hikes.

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