Wednesday, June 1, 2011

His and Herrs on the Kinsmans. May 29-30, 2011

Lonesome Lake Trail, Cascade Brook Trail, Fishin' Jimmy Trail, Kinsman Ridge Trail. About 11 miles roundtrip, 3550 feet elevation gain.

When my friend Diamondridge asked if we'd like to join her on a Memorial Day weekend backpack to the Kinsmans, I immediately said yes. Then I said no. Then I said maybe. Hugh had made plans with the girls for that Sunday, and I didn't want to interfere with his father-daughter time.

I brought up DR's invitation to Hugh, who liked the idea and agreed we should all go together. This decision made the girls very happy; both are anxious to share the 4K trails with their Papa.

Sunday morning rolled around bright and early, and we were on the trail by 7am. The mist was thick and invaded everything, including my camera. Lack of sunshine gave the forest a fairy-tale quality and the girls spoke of Little Red Riding Hood as they walked.

On our way up, we met DR and her girls coming down the trail. DR's youngest, Waterhorse, didn't feel up to the hike and wanted to head home. DR, being the great mom that she is, respected her daughter's choice. DR told me that they would head back to the car and Waterhorse would visit her grandparents for the weekend. DR and her older daughter, MooseMaiden, would then get back on the trail after dropping off Waterhorse. They'd catch up with us later.

Lonesome Lake Trail is moderately steep. It's a great trail for kids of every ability if the main goal is Lonesome Lake itself or the nearby AMC hut. For us, it represented less than half the day's mileage. We were happy to get to the lake and walk part of its flat circumference toward the Fishin' Jimmy. The relative levelness of the Cascade Brook Trail brought a welcome relief to our knees.

Once at the pier, we took a breather.

Max, our border terrier, waited patiently for treats (which he did indeed receive)...

After an appropriate amount of snackage, we walked up the steps to the hut, where we took an even greater breather.

I admired the new porch...

Once everyone felt ready to roll, we hoisted our packs (which weighed approximately 800 pounds each) and put on our brave faces. The Fishin' Jimmy lay ahead...

Off we went. At first, the girls were lulled into a false sense of security by the easiness of the first stretch.

Then that second mile rolled around and they quickly realized why this trail has a nasty reputation. The entire latter half of the Fishin' Jimmy is as steep as what's depicted below.

We ran into a little ice up there...

Finally, after hours of huffing and puffing, we made it to the campsite. After joyfully dumping our packs on a tent platform, we checked out Kinsman Pond.

Next, we stuck our heads inside the Kinsman Pond shelter (very nice!)...

DR and MooseMaiden arrived right after we set up our tents. Hugh, the girls and I were now ready to hit the summits, but, understandably, DR and MM wanted to wait until the following morning to head farther up. We agreed to see each other later, then my family began the half mile ledge-climb to North Kinsman's summit.

On the official summit of North Kinsman!

Views from the ledge by the official summit....a cloudy Franconia Ridge...

The girls showed off their banged-up legs (signs of a good hike)...

Once our first round of summit chocolate was consumed, we began the trek to South Kinsman.

The summit of South Kinsman...

Our dog seemed a bit tired...

We rested a while and waited for Max to finish his nap. When he seemed good to go, we headed back toward North Kinsman and our campsite.

More views from the ledge near North Kinsman's summit...this time, not so many dark clouds...

Once back at camp, Hugh and I enjoyed good conversation with DR while our girls played together. We were a tired bunch when we all said goodnight.

Then things got interesting.

I am not a fan of thunderstorms. At. All. Especially when one strikes while I'm stuck outside with my children. One of the chapters in my forthcoming book, UP, describes a terrifying experience the girls and I had on Mt. Tom (I briefly summarized that day here in August 2008). That day was one of the most terrifying of my life, and I can no longer hear thunder without experiencing moments of panic.

So, of course, not one, but a slew of thunderstorms pounded our campsite all night long.

Thankfully, the girls only awoke for the first one. They fell asleep after that round's peals faded and did not wake up for the second, third, or fourth boomer. I, on the other hand, stayed awake all night long and pestered Hugh with "Are you sure we're okay" questions over and over and over again.

Morning eventually came and the lightning went on its merry way. DR and MM headed up to the summits while our family headed back down to our car.

The hike out was quite difficult; it's tough to descend Fishin' Jimmy on 20 minutes of sleep.

We did eventually make it back to the trailhead. The girls were happy and proud while their parents were pleased but exhausted.

Congrats to Sage for bagging 4Ks #15 and 16. Congrats to Max on 4Ks #6 and 7. And congrats to Hugh for getting 4Ks # 2 and 3. Congrats also to DR and MM, and to Alex (this was her third visit to the illustrious Kinsmans).

Hope everyone had a lovely holiday weekend.

No comments: