Saturday, February 11, 2012

Cannon 2, Matt 0 -- 2-11-12

I needed a short and "easy" day after the previous day's solo Franconia Ridge Traverse. Cannon seemed like a good candidate. I knew it would be steep going up Kinsman Ridge Trail, but I planned to get a later start and take it easy.

Arriving at the tramway parking around 9:30 and on-trail at 9:40. The climb was slow. I had every intention of snow-shoeing up to take advantage of the televators, but the shoes were like concrete shoes today (gee, wonder why!) so I put the microspikes back on and kept them on until I was back at the car.

I was slow climbing but the glades made some nice excuses to stop and enjoy the views. There wasn't much to see beyond the mountain however.

Near the initial height-of-land a group of 4 people passed me, I think French Canadians, they definitely had a French accent at least and weren't from the area. I passed them again just before the view spur path (which I skipped since the notch was socked in pretty solidly). The trail got a little harder to follow up the exposed slopes towards the summit cone, and the set of recent snowshoe prints I was following ran into a couple small spruce traps. One I ended up up to one hip in (luckily the other foot was on solid enough ground and I got out easily). Eventually the tracks broke out near the top of a closed ski slope. I trucked up the edge of it to the tram building. There I headed up hill near the chairlift and eventually came to the observation tower. Things were socked in enough that the tower was not visible from the tram building...but they lifted a little when I got onto the tower. The steps were packed into a nice 45 degree ice ramp, which made descent tricky...

I wanted to get back down to the Highland Lodge and relax for several hours knowing I had a 12-mile hike head the next day in Isolation. Since there were no views I headed down after a snack on the picnic area at the tram building. I still wasn't clear exactly where the Kinsman Ridge Trail came in from below so I mostly backtracked. I did find the correct trail past the spruce traps the person in front of me had found (I never saw them this day). On my way down I got a few clearer views of the notch and snapped a few pictures, but kept heading down. I passed the French quartet at the upper ski glade crossing (at the "sign") and cruised down. Saw one or two other foursome heading up and I descended.

Summitted in about 3 hours, descended in under 1 hour, back at the car at 1:50.

As to the title: I've been on this mountain 3 times. Once many years ago on a family trip where we took the tram up. Not much better views than this day. 2007 as my #47 peak with my dad. That was a misty day and again, not much to see. That day kicked my butt as we took the Lonesome Lake Trail to the Kinsman Ridge Trail and also did the NE Cannon Ball. That col destroyed my knees on the descent (and I've had knee problems for more than 10 years - before the hike mind you - which is sad considering I'm still young. Advil and knee braces help, but we had no Vit. I that day...) This day, the ascent just dragged on and on until hitting that height-of-land. Basically it kicked my butt. I'm sure the previous day's 15.5 miles and 5500 feet of elevation gain was to blame some. I later saw that in the first ~1.5 miles you pick up about 1800 feet of elevation, and the first quarter mile isn't very steep either! But again, not much for views...

This marked #12 on my winter 4K list however! 1/4 of the way there in just 6 days of hikes, all of them (save maybe this one) were great. And this one wasn't so bad except for the trail being really steep.

Peaks: Cannon (NH4K)
Mileage: 4.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 2100 feet


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