Monday, February 20, 2012

2 Kinsmans on President's Day - 2-20-12

I went via Fishin' Jimmy. I didn't want the extra elevation gain plus drive time of the Western approach on this day. I was hoping to visit George (Mount Washington) on this President's Day, but 60 mph winds at 7AM on the summit nixed that idea, as expected. The winds were forecast to drop to 35-50 during the afternoon, still not good enough. Turns out this didn't happen and the winds stayed over 60 most of the day. Definitely a good call to stay below treeline.

Great day for the Kinsmans. Clear skies until early afternoon when some clouding occurred (opposite of the forecast morning clouds, afternoon clearing but I'm not kicking) Got a late start for me, hitting the trail around 8:50AM. Chugged up the Lonesome Lake Trail in what seemed like a slow pace, but I hit the hut by 9:50. One hour, not bad, guess I'm doing better than I thought! Thought about going in the hut, but decided to keep moving, especially since people were still eating breakfast it seemed. I had 8.5 miles left on the day. I would be back later anyway.

Left on the Fishin' Jimmy and soon passed 3 people on the first significant descent about 1/3 mile from the hut. First ice of the day too... Turned out that these people would be the only ones I would see above the hut all day. The Fishin' Jimmy meanders along, gaining and losing a little elevation constantly for the first mile. After that it climbs, and steeply in spots. In the summer there are some steps drilled into the rocks, right now all of the steep rock faces are coated in a LOT of ice. Most spots are bypassed, though one or two of the bypasses are pretty icy too.

Eventually I crawled up to Kinsman Junction and headed south on the Kinsman Ridge Trail. Hit the summit of N. Kinsman at about 11:45. Gorgeous views with very few clouds from the overlook just below the summit. The only other time I was on the Kinsmans, it was overcast and views weren't great. Not so today.

Franconia Ridge

I hung out here at the overlook for a while, there was no wind here and it was a nice view to snack at. After a little while I packed up and headed over to S. Kinsman. There was some more snow and a little minor drifting near the summit. Nothing worth pulling out the snowshoes.

Snow-covered trees near the summit of North Kinsman

I started to feel some of the wind now, and even more so on the summit. Seeing the Southern summit of S. Kinsman, I headed over to it because it looked close in elevation even though I was pretty sure the northern knob was higher (it was). The trail to that knob was not as condensed (or clear due to some drifting) and I'm afraid a couple kittens were killed. The prints were already filling in when I headed back after just a couple pictures of Moosilaukee and South-West. A few pictures of the snow ghosts at the true S. Kinsman and I headed back to North Kinsman.

Franconia Ridge from South Kinsman

At the overlook I ran into the trio I had seen before. They were only going for the N. summit and were wondering if it was a little further up, they seemed pleased when informed they had already climbed over it (well, I guess the summit is just off-trail, but close enough). They wanted views, and since things were clouding up, weren't all that interested in S. Kinsman. Besides, I think the N. Kinsman outlook has better views overall, though you can see Vermont from S (that was rapidly becoming not the case though).

Heading down the Fishin' Jimmy steeps was interesting. Some glissading was used on the icy spots instead of the bypasses, and I made it to the hut intact. There I headed inside for a while to have a snack and just chill. It was warmer inside anyway (though still not warm of course, I would have put a layer on were I to stay longer). I had a nice conversation with a couple of dads who had brought their sons up for the night. I left around 2:55, setting myself an aggressive goal of reaching the car at 3:30. Turns out I made it by 3:25. 6.5 hour elapsed time with a couple longer breaks. It's insane how fast the trails are right now, I've never been this consistently under book time with long stops in my life. Hiking 5 out of 6 weekends probably doesn't hurt either.

I ran into a couple of people just getting off Franconia Ridge, they said it was hard to stay upright at times, I guess not doing the Presi's was a good move.

Another free ride for the snowshoes, really they were only needed going to the southern summit of S. Kinsman and only in a couple spots. Microspikes were perfect for all but the steep mile of Fishin' Jimmy. There I had to take my time, especially on the descent. The others I saw were using microspikes and Hillsounds too. Crampons or at least Hillsound PROs would not be un-reasonable for Fishin' Jimmy. Lonesome Lake and KRT can be bare-booted if desired, not much ice to speak of there.

Nice day out, gorgeous views. Good plan B for winds too much for the presi's.

All pics:

S. Kinsman marked the 1/3 marker on my winter 4Ks! Just over 2 months ago I would have laughed at you if you told me I would have ANY winter 4K's done. So far I'm loving winter hiking, second only to fall (and boy is it a close one, I like not having to watch every step for rocks tripping me up!)

Mileage: 10.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 3500 feet
Peaks: North Kinsman (4293', NH4K), South Kinsman (4358', NH4K)

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