Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Monday, March 13, 2017

Solo on the Kinsmans

After a weekend of frigid temps and extreme windchills I decided to hike on Monday. While not as cold as the weekend it was still cold but without the strong winds. Today I would be hiking North Kinsman (4,293') and South Kinsman (4,358'). My route would take me up the Mount Kinsman Trail to the Kinsman Ridge Trail over North Kinsman continuing on to South Kinsman and returning on the same trails.

As I drove to the trailhead there was a beautiful full moon setting over the mountains in the Pilot Range to the west. When I got to Franconia Notch the snow guns were blasting away on the Cannon ski area and the slight breeze was carrying the snow across the entire mountain. I was the first one in the Mount Kinsman Trail parking lot. I parked so as to get the most benefit from the sun throughout the day and I would hopefully return to a slightly warm car.

I was on the trail at about 9:00 AM. There was maybe an inch of snow on the trail. I started out in microspikes. The small water crossings were bridged but sounded hollow when I walked across them. One water crossing had several postholes and not much of a bridge but could easily be jumped over. There were a couple of sections of trail ice but not a problem with the microspikes. I bypassed Bald Peak today, I've been there before and seen the views.

At one point as the snow got deeper I briefly lost the trail. The old hiker tracks that I had been following disappeared along with the trail from drifting snow over the weekend. The spot that I stopped at could have gone in any direction. But this is a well-marked and well-maintained trail so I looked for the blazes and found them. The trail took a sharp right and I was able to follow along through the drifted snow. Although not very deep the snow completely covered the trail. I decided to put on my Hillsound Trail crampons to get a little more bite in the snow, they worked great. I left the snowshoes in the car but they were not needed today.

I got to the Kinsman Ridge Trail and turned right for the summit of North Kinsman. The trail was in good condition with some minor drifting of snow. It appears I was the first one on the trail today, I saw no other fresh footprints. When I reached the summit I changed some layers then kept on going to South Kinsman. The views were spectacular along the way with clear blue sky and lots of sunshine.

I expected and found the same snowdrift conditions on the way over to South Kinsman. I reached the summit cairn and stayed long enough for some photos then started the return trip. As I began my descent I met the first two hikers of the day. I then met a few more on the way back to North Kinsman. When I reached the summit again I dropped down to the outlook. It was a great spot, lots of sun and no wind, not that there had been a lot of wind but there wasn't even a breeze. I ate lunch got some photos and then continued my hike to the trailhead. It was all downhill from here!

I still had my crampons on but as I dropped down lower there was much less snow. I swapped the crampons for microspikes but the traction must be getting dull. Underneath the snow was ice and I was doing a lot of slipping so the crampons went back on. I met a few more hikers on the lower part of the trail, it appears they were just taking a short hike. I was able to take off the crampons when I got back to the one inch of snow on the trail and barebooted the rest of the way.

Two cars were in the parking lot which would account for the two hikers that I saw. My car was parked in the sunshine but it was still cold. My ice tea that was sitting in the console from eight hours earlier still had all its ice and that was with the sun beating on it. My coldest temp of the day registered 5°F and the warmest was 17°F.

These summits were #29 and #30 for my Winter 48. With a Nor'easter in the forecast for tomorrow it's a safe bet that trail conditions will change dramatically for the next and last weekend of winter.

Enjoy the photos!

Full moon setting on the drive to the trailhead

Snow guns blowing snow across Cannon

Starting the hike at 9:00 AM on the Mount Kinsman Trail

Passing the sugar shack

Ice on the trail but easy to get around

Snow bridge with a hollow sound when crossing

Frozen waterfall

More trail ice

A weak snow bridge with postholes

Snow covered burl

Kinsman Ridge Trail junction

Cannon Mountain from the Kinsman Ridge Trail

North Kinsman

Franconia Ridge from North Kinsman

On my way to South Kinsman

South Kinsman summit cairn up ahead

Sitting on the South Kinsman summit cairn

Cannon Mountain

Mount Liberty and Mount Flume

Loon Mountain

Mount Moosilauke

A view to the west

North Kinsman

Franconia Ridge from South Kinsman

Kinsman Pond

North Kinsman and Kinsman Pond below

Kinsman Ridge Trail

Franconia Ridge and Lonesome Lake below

Mount Liberty and Mount Flume

Last steep up for the day

View from North Kinsman

Franconia Ridge from North Kinsman

Lonesome Lake

Descending North Kinsman

Blaze on a blowdown

Tree roots with "windows"

Bypassed Bald Peak on this hike

Snow-capped mushrooms

Returned to the trailhead at 3:10 PM

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

1 comment:

  1. Great views! With the sun shining it looks warmer. I wish you could comment on the videos, the wind noise is noticeable, but your voice would further enhance what we are seeing! Great job ~ No complaints ~ Keep hiking