Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Cannon - Cannonballs - Kinsmans - Redlining - Everything! - October 3, 2015

Route: Kinsman Ridge Trail, Kinsman Pond Trail, Cascade Brook Trail, Basin-Cascades Trail, Pemi Trail
Peaks: Cannon (4100', NH4K), NorthEast Cannonball (3769', NEHH), North Kinsman (4293', NH4K), South Kinsman (4358', NH4K)
Mileage: 16.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 5300 feet
Book Time: 11 hours (actual 9hr 25min)

Cannon is one of those mountains for me. All trails to it are excessively steep, rocky, and generally unkind to knees. And despite it allegedly having great views from the top of the observation tower, I've not had much in the way of views from the summit on my 4 previous trips. For this hike, Cannon was the remaining peak I needed to complete a 5th round of the New Hampshire 4000-footers, and I decided to work in some redlining, and add on 2 more 4000-footers, the nearby Kinsmans.

I started off from the Cannon Tram Lot, and took the steep, excessively eroded, and slippery Kinsman Ridge Trail up to the summit. This trail wastes no time in getting to business, climbing 1800 feet in the first 1.5 miles before reaching a wide panaramic viewpoint. The trail in here passes through a section of birch glades used from the ski area for skiing, but all in all is just a miserable, neglected section of trail. But I'd only been on it once before, in winter, so I was interested in seeing it for myself. I started this hike under mostly clear skies, though there were some clouds to the North. Reaching the viewpoint, I had mostly clear views down Franconia Notch, though some clouds were filtering in through the notch from the North. By the time I reached the summit, true to form, the clouds were enveloping the observation tower. Cannon - 5, me - 0. Sigh.

Erosion along the Kinsman Ridge Trail up from the tram lot. This section is eroded over 6 feet below the forest floor around it!

Crossing a section of the glades ski trail.

More of the glades ski trail.

Franconia Ridge from the viewpoint 1.5 miles up from the tram lot.

Looking South through Franconia Notch

Interstate 93 through Franconia Notch

The summit of Cannon ahead. The tower is still in the clear.

I can see it right now, will I see anything when I get there?

The best view I got from Cannon - almost clearing towards the Kinsmans.

Busy place today since the tram was running and it is foliage season.
After a very quick visit (it was windy, and crowded with tourists on the tower), I bugged out. The trip down from Cannon and over the Cannonballs is steep in places (especially coming off Cannon), rugged, damp, and there are simply a LOT of PUDs! (pointless ups and downs). And of course I noted as I began the climb over the Cannonballs that the summit of Cannon was once again clear of all clouds. Figures. Eventually I reached North Kinsman, where I took a nice break at the lower observation ledges, looking down upon Kinsman Pond, where I would later be.

Cannon from Coppermine Col - of course the summit is clear again!

Cannon and some of the Cannonballs.

Franconia Ridge from North Kinsman

Kinsman Pond from North Kinsman

Franconia Ridge

South Kinsman from North Kinsman

The color is beginning in the valleys. Rather late this year.

The Cannonballs and Cannon from North Kinsman

After a nice break, I took the short and fairly straight-forward out-and-back to South Kinsman, where I had a nice chat with an older couple just starting out on their 4000-footer journey. They had come up the Mt. Kinsman Trail from the West, which is hands-down the best route to the Kinsmans. But I still had to get all the way back to the tram lot, and so I got going.

The mountains of Northern Vermont from South Kinsman

North Kinsman from South Kinsman

Bond and Bondcliff

Liberty (L) and Flume (R)

The Sandwich Range

Franconia Ridge from South Kinsman
Returning to Kinsman Junction, I started off on the first red-line of the day, the Kinsman Pond Trail. Passing through the Kinsman Pond campsite (which includes a wooden shelter), the trail skirts tightly along the edge of its namesake pond, with several minor boulder scrambles along the way. Leaving the pond, the trail then takes a nasty turn for the next 1-1.5 miles. There were lengthy sections where the trail ran down the center of a rocky, mossy stream, which made for rather tedious footing. Once down to a nice waterfall though, the lower section of the trail was much nicer and flew by. Crossing a tricky water crossing, I reached the Cascade Brook Trail, the next section of red-line trail for the day. This short segment of trail had easy footing and went by quickly. The only trick was managing the fast-flowing bridge-less crossing at the junction with the Basin-Cascades Trail (the bridge was washed away in early 2011 and there has not been a replacement built yet).

Kinsman Pond

Cascade partway down the Kinsman Pond Trail. Below here, the trail was great. Above, rather obnoxious.

The old bridge site at the Cascade Brook/Basin-Cascades Trail junction. Currently there is a potentially tricky rock-hop site a few dozen yards upstream.
The Basin-Cascades Trail, as the name implies, travels along a series of cascades before reaching The Basin, a road-side attraction with a neat whirlpool/basin and other natural features. But I still had a little over 4 miles to go, as I swung North on the Pemi Trail. The Pemi Trail parallels (and even crosses several times) the Franconia Notch Recreation Path (aka the Bike Path), but is much quieter, and with good footing for this 4-mile stretch, it was a good alternative to the monotonous bike path. Finally, a short walk through the parking lot at Echo Beach later left me back at the Tram Lot and my waiting car. Lots of redline? Check! 5th round? Check! Views from Cannon? Sort of check (views from the ledges 1/2 mile from the summit).

Slot canyon at the top of the Basin-Cascades Trail

Rocky Glen Falls. Very nice cascade.

Eagle Cliff from along the Pemi Trail.

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