Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, September 14, 2014

North and Almost South Kinsmans

I usually prefer to hike on Saturday during the weekend but I postponed this hike until Sunday based on the weather forecast. Well, here in New England you take the weather forecast with a grain of salt. The plan for today was to summit North Kinsman (4,293') and South Kinsman (4,358') via the Mt. Kinsman Trail to the Kinsman Ridge Trail. I would find out later that I did not carry my plan far enough.


 Last of the wildflowers

 Sugar Shack

At 6:00 am I picked up fellow hiker Denise and we set out for the trailhead. I was heading into unknown territory and sure enough got twisted up on the backroads of Franconia. We finally got back on track and found the parking lot for the Mt. Kinsman trail. It was prime parking as there were no other vehicles yet. We hit the trail at 7:30 under an overcast sky with hopes of clearing later on.

The first part of this trail looks to be an old road and passes by an old sugar shack before turning right and starting a very easy climb. This is a very nice trail and well maintained. There are fresh blazes and no obstructing blowdowns for the entire length of the trail.

 Lots of mossy green today

At two miles we came to the spur trail to Bald Peak and decided to bypass this for now and keep going in hopes that the clouds would clear and there would be a better view on the return trip down. There was bright green moss everywhere and the color appeared to be even more vibrant in contrast with the misty, gray forest. Mushrooms were in their prime and they were sprouting out in many shapes and colors.

 Reaching the Kinsman Ridge Trail

Another 1.6 miles and we turned right onto the Kinsman Ridge Trail. It wasn't long before we noticed the tops of the trees were frosty white with ice. The wind was whipping the clouds across the ridgeline. Small chunks of ice were being blown down out of the trees and I found it necessary to pull the hood up on my shell to keep a stray piece of ice from finding its way down the back of my neck.

 Icy trees along the Kinsman Ridge Trail

 Bog bridge on a wet section of trail

The temperature was 38 degrees as we reached the summit of North Kinsman. We kept on going to South Kinsman. As we got closer I started asking hikers if there was a cairn on the summit. I thought I had seen one in photographs. Each one said no, there was no cairn. We climbed up to a clearing of ledges and met a couple there that said this must be the summit because the trail started to descend from here. It was not as I would find out later. 

 A frosty forest

On North Kinsman #42

 South Kinsman false summit

This was as far as we went thinking this was the summit. It was very cold, damp and windy and we didn't stay long. Visibility was very limited and there was no way of telling that the true summit was just a short ways down the trail. We didn't stay long. After a few photos we started our hike back to North Kinsman.

 Heading back up to North Kinsman

 "View" from Kinsman Ridge Trail

 Descending North Kinsman

 Ice falling from the trees

The wind seemed to diminish as we approached North Kinsman and it was time to take a break for lunch. So we sat on a ledge that I could only imagine offered a magnificent view on a clear day. I would normally take some photos during a stop for lunch but I didn't see the point today. The positive thinking up to this point was that it's going to clear. The mantra soon turn to, "this was a good conditioning hike".

Ice chunks on a bed of moss

It was all downhill from here. Our next stop was on Bald Peak (2,470') and this would be the only distant views for today. Looking back up toward the Kinsmans I could see the summits were still shrouded in clouds.

Clear summits on the drive home

Two more miles of the Mt. Kinsman Trail brought us back down to the parking lot. I found out later after posting some photos on Facebook that I indeed had not reached the summit of South Kinsman. A fellow hiker was kind enough to point this out. It does in fact have a large cairn there. I'm not too disappointed because I'm anxious to do this again soon on a bright, clear day. I also added one more summit, North Kinsman, to bring my total to 42 of 48 completed 4,000 footers. Next time I plan on hiking to Lonesome Lake and taking the Fishin' Jimmy Trail. Between a new trail and views it will feel like I'm hiking these summits for the first time!

Ice chunks raining down from the treetops

Panoramic view from Bald Peak

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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