Breaking Trail on the Cannonballs…

Friday Night – 11/12/12

First Night: 1.54 Miles & 1056 ft vert

This past weekend Gus and I packed up and headed to Lonesome Lake Hut on a frosty 10-15 degree night.  We made the quick one hour hike to the Hut mostly in the dark with our headlamps off and the nearly full moon lighting the way off the 4-5 inches of fresh snow from the night before.

Overnight Cannonballs Loop

Overnight Cannonballs Loop

We strolled into the hut around 10:45 pm to a wood stove heated lodge and chatted with the caretaker for a bit by the woodstove.  Only two other people were staying at the 48 person capacity Hut that night and we had an entire bunkhouse to ourselves.  The bunkhouse is really nice and much better than the open bunk format of other lodges I’ve seen.  There are two buildings with small rooms with generally two bunk beds per room.  The deck from our bunk house looked over Franconia Ridge which was lit up by the near full moon.

Turning in, the freezing bunk mattress didn’t provide much insulation which I hadn’t anticipated.  In hindsight I should have brought my foam pad which would have helped.

Saturday:  10.1 Miles & 3502 ft vert

Saturday morning I dressed inside my sleeping bag and awoke to light snow falling.  Despite getting up around 6:45, we didn’t hit the trail until 9am after eating and packing and sitting by the woodstove for a bit longer.  Immediately after starting out on the Around-Lonesome-Lake Trail, we caught up to Jack from the 4000 Footer Facebook group who I knew to be hiking this trail today.  He was filming the hike to Cannon on a head mounted GoPro.

Saying bye, we tore up the Lonesome Lake Trail to about 3600 feet, stopping frequently to adjust layers and prevent overheating.  Even with temps in the mid to low twenties, its crazy how hot and sweaty you can get climbing.  Getting your “inner climate” just right takes a fair amount of practice.  We hit the Kinsman Ridge Trail and turned right for Cannon Mountain.  This was the steepest part of the trip and was untracked and difficult to find safe footing even with microspikes on.  A few scrambles later we were standing on the observation deck on the summit staring at fog and getting blown around by 30-40 mph gusts and some intense wind chills.

Back down the Kinsman Ridge Trail was slow but more people making tracks on their way up made it easier.  Looked like a fair amount of people were looping this with the Hi-Cannon Trail and just hiking Cannon.  Before the junction of the Lonesome Lake Trail we took a lunch break and made some “mouth sandwiches” which is stuffing bread cheese and pepperoni in your mouth in no particular order and chewing it up until it tastes like a sandwich.

The three sub peaks called Cannonballs were next and the 2.4 miles of nonstop up and downs were completely untracked with 6-8 inches of powder over a fair amount of ice.  Hiking lead for the first half, I think I slipped and fell on my ass or shoulder 4 or 5 times.  The 6-8 inches of powder over ice makes for some treacherous footing but the same snow that makes you slip makes the shoulder and ass slams on the ground a lot softer.  Gus fell a few times while he was leading as well and missed some of my better spills while I was behind him.  Cannonballs were a shit show, seemed never ending and was pretty tough but the untracked trail was beautiful and all the slipping and crashing ended up being kind of fun.

We finally made it to the Kinsman Junction and did the .1 mile hop to Kinsman Pond Shelter to warm up and change some wet layers.  It was still snowing and the wind coming off the Pond was brisk and the clouds were too thick to see the peak of North Kinsman from the shore.  At this point we realized South Kinsman would have to wait for another day as breaking trail and all the crashing had taken its toll and our gear was getting soaked.

Kinsman Pond

We zipped the .4 miles up to the summit and once we realized there was zero views yet again, we decided to head back to the Hut and get warmed up a bit.  The way down was a ton of fun; with the fresh snow there was some nice opportunities for “butt sledding” which also probably saved me from slipping and falling on some of the steeper descent sections.  A few sections of the Fishin Jimmy Trail were sketchy and it grew dark about half way down but its still one of my favorite trails.

The Hut was packed with a few Boy Scout Troops cooking pizzas.  Impressive to see a bunch of 12 year olds cranking out huge pies and I almost offered to pay them for a slice.  We warmed up a bit and blasted back down to the car and hit up Woodstock Inn & Brewery for some 4000 Footer IPAs.  Got back home on Saturday night and got to relax and enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Total: 11.64 Miles and 4558 Feet of Vert

Things I Did Right:

– Skipped South Kinsman.
– Only did one night out this time.  Gear was so wet we wouldn’t have lasted two nights.

Things I Did Wrong:
– Snowboarding mittens were a bad choice.
– Should have brought a foam pad to put on the freezing cold bunkhouse mattress.
– Hardly took any pics due to weather and mittens

Total Peaks Bagged: 3 this trip.  #25 Cannon + Cannonballs.
Total Miles:  11.64
Total Elevation Gain:  4558 feet
Total 4ks: 25/48
Total Backpacked: 22/48


– Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15 Down Sleeping Bag:  Used once before but first time taking it down to 15 degrees.  A bit chilly at first but woke up in the middle of the night toasty and warm.

Mountain Hardwear Exposure Parka: Great jacket with awesome features.

Categories: 4000 Footer, Camping, Hiking Camping Gear, Mountains, New Hampshire, Trail Report | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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