Salty's The Cannon Balls NE Peak Trip Reports

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Hiking Dates

07/04/2008


Date Climbed: 07/04/2008

Distance: 12 miles

Low Elevation: 1757 feet
High Elevation: 4358 feet
Elevation Gain: 4445 feet
Elevation Loss: 4445 feet

Start Location: Lafayette Place Campground
Finish Location: Lafayette Place Campground
Route: Lonesome Lake Tr., Hi-Cannon Tr., Kinsman Ridge Trail to S. Kinsman south knob, Fishing Jimmy Tr., Cascade Brook Tr., Lonesome Lake Tr.

Weather: Perfect. Few clouds, temps near 70?, little wind.
Companions: (none)

Photos: http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/563999493hHQjFl

I haven't been up north in 5 weeks now, and I was getting downright desperate to head up ("Hey man, got any views? C'mon man, I need some views, gimme some views"). I've never done the Kinsmans, saw there'd be some cool views from there, and I figured I'd might as well bag the Cannon Ball while in the neighborhood. _x000D_ _x000D_ Friday worked out best for me this weekend, with fantastic weather forecast, for once. I have the Mt. Washington summit and ravine cam on my desktop, and I've been seeing nothing but the summit socked in for days on end. _x000D_ _x000D_ I woke up at 5 (geez, I don't get up nearly this early even for work...) and was on the trail at Lafayette Campground at 7. Plenty of time to do the 12 miles and 4500 ft. total elevation gain (and loss) and not have to worry about hurrying. I had decided on the Hi-Cannon Trail, as the book promised some nice ledge views. It's a bit longer and more elevation to climb, but I want them views! _x000D_ _x000D_ The campground was full but still fairly quiet, with the smell of wood smoke and camp coffee (i.e., slightly burnt). The short stretch of the Lonesome Lake Trail went by quickly, and then it was time for the first 1000 ft. climb on the Hi Cannon up to the Dodge Cutoff. I was feeling the 5 weeks of a lack of serious hiking, but just took it easy and tried to find a pace I could maintain. Hi-Cannon above the Dodge Cutoff is a bit grown in, but despite a chilly start, I was warming up quickly. Last nightís rain brushing on to me from the firs as I walked by wasnít a bad thing. Need a cooldown? Shake the tree above you! _x000D_ _x000D_ The views, notably to Lafayette and Lincoln, were worth it. I could look down on the campground and see smoke rising from the trees, almost straight down so it seems. Tried to see if anyone was up on the Franconia ridge yet, but didnít see anything moving. I didn't care to go off to the Cannon summit, even though it's only 0.4 miles away and 200 ft. up. I've been there before, I hadnít seen anyone yet and for whatever reason didnít feel like intermingling with the tram-riders. _x000D_ _x000D_ Coming down the KRT below the Hi-Cannon trail is an unbelievably steep rock jump. I was extremely glad to not be going up this. Near the col before the first Cannon Ball, there's a small ledge to climb up where I had a great view to the Connecticut River valley where there was a bunch of fog, making for a really cool looking scene. Wait, why do my legs itch? Ahhhh! Black flies! DEET! From here I also had a good view of the first Cannon Ball, and it looked intimidating - more than the map said. Is today going to be that bad? Well, no bailing now, go get up there. Oh wait, thatís it? I'm here already? Oh, that wasnít so bad. It wouldnít be the first time my sense of distance and height would be wrong today. . _x000D_ _x000D_ The trail was nice after that, skirting the second ball and over the third. I finally saw someone in this stretch (another solo hiker). I have to say that the pro trail crew through this section must be vying for the Paul Bunyon award. Huge blowdowns, and sections of stairs and walkways using big trees. Yow. Whole lotta hefty axe work. _x000D_ _x000D_ By the time I got to the 3812 hump before Kinsman Junction, Iíd about had it with these incessant ups and downs. I had already done 70% of the elevation gain at that point, and my calves were letting me know it. Heading up Kinsman was another slow affair, because my ďupĒ was running out. OK, that's fine, slow and steady always does the job. I passed the summit boulder and shortly after that the ledge outlook. There's no sign (guidebook says there is), it's an obvious ledge to the left, marked by a 3-4 ft. drop down a boulder first. I took a much needed long rest at this point, kicking off the shoes, digging out the binoculars, and taking in some lunch. _x000D_ _x000D_ I noticed 5 or 6 gliders (as in sailplanes) in the notch and north of it. What a great way to spend the day! Apparently they operate out of the field in Franconia. One with the tow plane was coming right at me, but they separated some ways down range and headed off it different directions. About 10 minutes later, I hear a swiiiiiissssh sound and there's the glider going right over me, maybe a couple hundred feet off the ground. Incredible! He circled several times, apparently trying to catch a thermal, and I gave a wave, maybe getting one back, before he headed off. _x000D_ _x000D_ After enjoying the ledge to myself for about Ĺ hour, I packed up and headed off to South Kinsman. Despite my aching muscles, the col is less than 400 ft., and better views await. I had missed the trail to the Kinsman Pond overlook, misundstanding the guide thinking it was a seperate trail, not a continuation of the ledge outlook spur. Ah well. In the Kinsman col, there were a bunch of boards for trail maintenance stacked up, as well as some large logs for the bases. Up on the summit ridge, there was the pile that they had heloíed in, similar to whatís going on at Eisenhower. _x000D_ _x000D_ At the South Kinsman summit, I looked over to the south knob, thinking that's where the views must be, but it looked like another col and some distance away. Oh wait, thereís a dude up there, and, oh crap, itís really close and thereís hardly a dip at all. Duhhh. There was a large group up there and a couple of other people on their own. And yeah, the views were fantastic. I was an idiot for even thinking of not heading over there. _x000D_ _x000D_ The newest view was to Bog Pond, which looks like a great place to visit sometime, and I could see to Wolf and Wolf Cub, as well as the col between them where I bailed due to my mental unpreparedness at the thick fir and spruce jungle on Wolf's east slope. Earlier on the drive up I had seen the four outlooks I had wanted to check out on Wolf Cub. My inability at getting up the peak keeps making it call to me. Hmmm, Gordon Cascades, Gordon Pond, Wolf Cub, Bog Pond. Sounds like a good weekend sometime. _x000D_ _x000D_ OK, enough of that. Headed back to the part I knew Iíd dread from the moment I figured out this trip. Reclimbing North Kinsman. Yeah, small col, but now the level in my ďupĒ reservoir was pretty much on ďEĒ. Well, not really, but I did have to stop quite a bit for quick catches of breaths. Several groups were now coming through, with me making a couple of comments that Iím glad this is the last of the climbing Iíll have to do. Suuuuurrrrre. The audacity of me thinking this! _x000D_ _x000D_ Finally to the summit and then I relished the going down. I made the side trip to Kinsman Pond, and soaked in the view (and splashed my face Ė it was getting warm!) for a while. OK, a couple of short steep stretches and the topo shows flat going to Lonesome Lake. Give me a Wah, give me a Hoo! It had been a tough day for me, and I was ready to exit the woods. Near the bottom of the last steep part, there was a nice small cascade, maybe more like a brook with a couple of drops, but surrounded by moss. My knees are now shaky. Iím using up my ďdownĒ now too?! _x000D_ _x000D_ Never mind that, so now the flat part! I get going on a brisk pace for a small bit, and then, hey wait, whatís this? Down then up? I donít want anymore up! No more up! No! No up! Yup, just that little 5 foot rise ruins me and my pace. Good grief, how is this possible? Normally, Iíd practically jump up this rise. I realize Iíve probably overdone it. Well, nothing to do but suck it up and keep moving. More of these falls and rises, 5 feet here, 20 feet there, each one taking a little more out of me. Iím travelling even on the flats slowly now. I consider sneaking off into the woods for a nap. _x000D_ _x000D_ Finally after an eternity, I see the hut at Lonesome Lake. I fill my canteen in the hut, take a look around the place, and on the way out I spot fresh baked cookies for a buck. Oh no, Iím not passing that up. One buck and one exceptionally yummy chocolate chip cookie later I then suck up the views at the lake. Awesome sight of Lincoln and Lafayette above the lake. I sit and reflect on what a fantastic day of views Iíve been treated to. Despite the exhaustion, itís been an awesome day. All the negative junk fades away. It's all temporary. _x000D_ _x000D_ Spirits now restored, I head off towards the Lonesome Lake Trail. It then hits me how many people who donít normally hike have made the 1.2 mile walk up here to enjoy the view. Lots of families. Very cool. Wait.... sandals? Ouch. The smart ones have brought bug spray, as the black flies still rule up here (and I had missed them sooo much). I hear a lot of different groups speaking in Slavic languages. Nothing negative there, it was just notable and I was surprised at the breadth of it. Then again, we have a lot of Albanians at my workplace in Manchester, so maybe not that surprising. Now itís more or less a stream of people coming up. The trail is pretty much as wide as a highway from erosion as I struggle to find where the intended trail is. It's mostly impossible and I pretty much have to give up and I just fly down the mountain now. Thatís more like it! I watch my shadow, judging my direction, looking for the hairpin turn Ė Ah! There it is! Down in a flash. _x000D_ _x000D_ Time for one of my favorite parts. Shoes off. Socks off. Shirt off. Fresh socks and shirt on Ė ahhhhhh, that feels soooo nice! A dumpy pair of sneakers completes it and then a slog of a drive to the Fireside Tavern for some deliciously cold (and close to home!), tasty beverages with friends. Now, what to do next week? _x000D_ _x000D_ Photos are here: _x000D_ http://community.webshots.com/album/563999493hHQjFl