Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Cannon - Still no Views... - March 24, 2013

Yes, I have yet to get a view from the summit of Cannon Mountain that wasn't the inside of a cloud. And this hike was no different. But this was easily my most enjoyable hike of Cannon of the 3 I've done now. HossInNH had a need for revenge on Cannon after getting turned back about 1/4 mile from the summit a few weeks before, and I was game for it. Even better, he agreed to take Hi-Cannon Trail up, the last main trail to the summit of Cannon that I had not hiked yet. Bonus!

Leaving Lafayette Place with the weather forecast calling for skies clearing later in the day, but a solid cloud deck at roughly 3000 feet, we weren't expecting much for views. But we were hoping for at least a partially-broken trail, but with no recent intel since a foot or more of snow fell less than a week prior, we had the plan B of turning around if it was too jmch for 2 and driving up the road to the Kinsman Ridge Trail and bagging the summit that way.

Snowshoes went on at the trailhead sign at the parking lot just before the footbridge over a stream, and stayed on until our return to the cars. The first couple of tenths of a mile on Lonesome Lake Trail were easy and we saw several people heading to and from Lonesome Lake Hut. Reaching the junction with the Hi-Cannon Trail, we saw a snow-filled snowshoe trench with some bare boot prints through it. The depth was only 4-6" and so the going wasn't bad, and we began the ascent.

The first part of this trail is straight-forward and climbs steadily but not steeply. But soon it steepened as expected, and we passed the barebooters we'd been following the tracks of. Not a snowshoe to be seen among the three of them, boy they had to be tired from postholing 8" with each step... Here we took the lead and steadily made our way up the steepening grade, passing some small lookouts to Franconia Notch below, and one of Lonesome Lake as well where we could see people walking across the ice-covered lake.

I-93 through Franconia Notch

Lafayette Place below - we started there
Then we hit the infamous ladder mentioned in the guidebook. Only we didn't see the ladder at first (though we suspected, rightly so, that it was in the snow beneath us). Kicking steps up the steep slope, we struck ladder rungs, so we cleared those off and used them to climb on. This was simple enough, but then the step off the ladder onto a snowy chute with a definite no-slide zone was a little tricky, but with care and the help of a couple well-placed trees, we managed safely.

There is a ladder underneath all of this
From there, the trail was steep, but not horribly so, and we made steady, though slow, progress upward through deepening snow. We figure there was about a foot of unbroken snow in the upper 1/3 of this trail. The bigger annoyance was due to how deep the snow was here, now the tree canopy that is normally over your head in summer was chest-height and we were getting a lot of snow dumped down our backs. Switching to shells (and HossInNH had a hood on his shell so he got to go first now :) ) we finished off the final push to the junction with the Kinsman Ridge Trail 1/2 mile from the summit. From here it was an easy, moderate final couple hundred foot ascent to the rime-caked observation tower. Climbing to the top, we felt the heavy winds for the first time on the day. They weren't bad, but we didn't hang out long, just enough to get a couple pictures, then we returned to the Hi-Cannon junction for some snacks and a break.

Rime-caked tower on the observation platform

Cable supports caked in rime too

He looks frosty too!

A fellow hiker admires the "awesome" view of a cloud's insides
Having decided earlier that we would not attempt to descend the tricky sections of Hi-Cannon Trail, we followed the broken-out Kinsman Ridge Trail down to the col between Cannon Mountain and the NorthEast Cannonball (the col is named Coppermine Col). This section is an extremely steep section as I remembered, and we did an extensive amount of descent on our behinds, enjoying some terrific butt-sledding down to the col. Here we were presented with a nice view below the clouds to the West into Vermont.

To the West from Coppermine Col

NorthEast CannonBall from Coppermine Col - on the New England 100 Highest
From the col, we took the Lonesome Lake Trail down to Lonesome Lake, enjoying a little more butt-sledding in a few steeper sections, but otherwise enjoying easy snowshoeing conditions to the lake. From there we opted to take the Around-Lonesome-Lake Trail (which we had to break out, but it is flat and only 3/10 of a mile long, so it wasn't a big deal) to Lonesome Lake Hut. A short stay at the hut, and then we followed the established path across the center of the lake, before following the remainder of the Lonesome Lake Trail back to the cars.

Cannon Mountain and the Northeast Cannonball (L) from Around-Lonesome-Lake Trail

Solid cloud deck just above 4000 feet covering Franconia Ridge

Cannon from the center of Lonesome lake

Franconia Ridge from Lonesome Lake

The Kinsmans from Lonesome Lake
A fun snowshoe, some proper trail-breaking, two more trails red-lined for me, a successful summit of New Hampshire 4000-Footer #40 for HossInNH (congrats!), and we were still done early due to the short distance involved. Can't beat it!

Peaks: Cannon Mountain (4100', NH4K)
Trails: Lonesome Lake Trail, Hi-Cannon Trail, Kinsman Ridge Trail, Around-Lonesome-Lake Trail, walk across the center of Lonesome Lake
Mileage: 6.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 2400'
Book Time: 4hr 25min (actual 5hr 20min)

1 comment:

  1. Great blog! I recently purchased some snow shoes and hope to come to NH to hike the lonesome Lake trail. We start the Adirondack high peaks this summer also.