The forecast was for a hot, hazy, humid day with thunderstorms in the afternoon--perfect conditions for a 17-mile hike! We've wanted to do the Kinsman Ridge trail as a one-day hike for some time now so we carried through with our plan despite the forecast.
We spotted one car on Rte. 112, and the other at Cannon Mtn., our starting point. The Kinsman Trail up Cannon was its usual steep, washed-out self, but itís always a treat to get that high that quick. We were alone on top; except for an employee we never saw (the open door and ladder on the tower equipment giving away his presence).
We set off for the first Cannon Ball. Its summit, wooded, is just a side step off the trail. Several more 'balls' follow, but that first is the most massive hump. The trail over the Cannon Balls is pretty rugged in places, with boulder and ledge scrambles making for fun travel. The trail provides some limited views along the way. We were glad to trade the views for the 'shade' the clouds/fog provided. We also enjoyed being in the clouds, and watching the fog blow over the ridge.
When the trail wasn't all about rock, it was about mud. We usually only use poles in winter, but we were glad we brought them along for this hike. While we stowed them for the rocky stretches (much quicker and easier to just use our hands to crawl over stuff) we employed them for getting us across the quagmires, sometimes planting them and 'swinging' to the next available rock, at other times for probing the depths to find a sunken log or stone to step on.
While still on the Cannon balls, we passed two other couples in the vicinity of a ravine, where a lovely brook flowed. This area had some great ledges off to the sides. We spotted lingering chunks of ice among the rocks. Standing beside one of these was like standing in front of an open refrigerator. Man did that feel good!
It was late morning and dark clouds had formed over the Franconia Ridge. We were hearing some thunder, but the clouds held for us. We had lunch on S. Kinsman, one of the only dry spots we'd encounter all day.
The total elevation for the Kinsman Ridge trail is 5,750 feet. Almost 4,000 feet of that elevation is covered in the first eight miles.
The descent off S. Kinsman is steep. We passed one person here, a man heading up hill. Down below we passed alongside Harrington Pond (more of a glorified bog) but oh so beautiful, and so remote feeling.
After passing under some electrical transmission lines, and enjoying an expansive view of Bog Ponds to the east, we reentered the woods. We crossed Eliza brook, which wasn't very wide, but it seemed to have big river attitude. Having just come off a month of almost solid rain, it was charged. The trail follows the brook. If you're heading south as we were, be sure to turn and look up stream frequently. There is just one magnificent water fall, basin, pool, ledge etc. after another.
The last summit of the day was Mt. Wolf. We sat on the small rock ledge at the top, and looked back, north, over the ground we had covered. Wow.
Only four more miles to go. After what seemed like never ending 'bumps' we finally came to the junction of the Kinsman Trail and Dilly Trail. At last we headed down, and back to the road, greeted by a crescent moon over Moosilauke.
Post script... we had dinner at Woodstock Station, then returned for my car at the Cannon Parking lot. While we knew we wouldn't be out in time to meet and greet Sarah, who was celebrating her completion of the 48, we were pleased to see, in Sherpa John's photos, that my car, the Subaru Forester with the tags "IHIKE2Ē was present for the party. Congratulations Sarah!