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View Full Version : Kinsman Ridge & Hale-Zealand-Twins Loop, 6/12&13 2004



JohnL
06-15-2004, 11:57 AM
Saturday June 12
Giff and I spotted cars and headed up the Kinsman Ridge Trail out of Kinsman Notch just before 8:00AM. The sky was absolutely clear and the air was cool and it was perfect for hiking. This trail creates a long way to go to bag a couple 4000 footers but the challenge, solitude and sights are worth the effort. The numerous PUDs (Pointless Ups & Downs) create a mental challenge for you as you watch your hard earned elevation gains turn to nothing over and over again.

Some of the southern highlights for me were:
The elusive Mt Wolf has a couple false summits (summit PUDs) before you reach the summit and its outlook to the east and northeast. The short section where the trail parallels Eliza Brook is full of scenic cascades and pools. Harrington Pond is a beautiful high pond a mile below the summit of South Kinsman. Then there are the magnificent views on the open ledges to the south of South Kinsman. We had lunch one of these ledges.

The summit of South Kinsman was deserted (we had yet to see any hikers) but shortly afterward we started to encounter several groups heading our way. We were on the easiest stretch of the entire trail now between South and North Kinsman. We stopped at North Kinsman and its outlook for a few minutes before moving on.

At Kinsman Junction, I jokingly said "Well, it's all up and down from here." My attempt at humor was lost on Giff. The Cannonballs are a cruel way to end a long day. The three Cannonballs are the largest of the PUDs along the trailís length and by far the most arduous. And then there was the last steep crank up from Coppermine Col to the HiCannon Trail to top it all off. The short slog from there to the summit was a welcome relief to our legs. We climbed the stairs of the observation tower and reveled in the breeze.

The hike down was highlighted by both of us running out of drinks and resorting to sharing my last apple to quench our thirsts. The water spicket at the campground was a mandatory stop. It was five minutes before 4:00 and warm and we had earned this last drink. I said that we would probably develop memory problems because we'll end up wanting to do this again next year. Somehow we would conveniently forget the discomforts of the day.

Sunday June 13
A blaring alarm clock at 4:00AM is not your friend. However it was my nagging companion and I had to get up and cross the room in order to silence it. And since I was already up, I might as well get dressed and go hiking again. After eating breakfast, fixing lunch, and doing all those other things that seem to take so long to do at 4:00AM, I was finally on the road about ten minutes after 5:00. The sun was rising over the Tripyramids and the mists were rising off the bog as I drove out of Waterville Valley. Forty five minutes later I was putting my boots on at the North Twin trailhead and at 6:05 I was headed up the trail.

It was pleasantly cool and I shook out the kinks in the flat stretch of trail along the Little River. The climb up Mt Hale was serene as the low sun filtered its way through the birch forest, the floor of which was blanketed by ferns, moosewood and blue bead lilies. The song birds were in full swing and I tried to stay as quiet as possible so as not to quiet their melody. The summit wasteland was empty at quarter to eight as I expected. I took a couple photos and headed down the Lend A Hand Trail, passing by a couple cooking up their morning meal on a perfect breakfast boulder, and in an hour I was at the Hut looking for Chomp and VSA just in case they got an early start. Chatting with a couple on the front porch, they told me I was the first trail person of the morning to get to the Hut.

I headed up toward Zeacliff and about halfway up, my stomach started growling so loud I could hear it over my footsteps and breathing. It was calling for more food. It was as if my body had said "Thanks for the breakfast. That's what you owed me from yesterday's hike. Now I want more." So I hurried on up to Zeacliff (which I had all to myself) and took some photos and ate a power bar and most of an apple before the bugs drove me out. They werenít attacking me so much as they were the apple. Not sure if I ate one (or two!) by mistake but I wouldn't be surprised if I did. I pocketed a PB&J sandwich and an orange, grabbed my pack and headed back up the trail. By the time I finished off the apple, orange and sandwich I was on the last climb up to Zealand Mtn. I tagged the summit and continued into the Zealand Guyot Col where I spooked a female Spruce Grouse who jumped into the trail not ten feet in front of me. I tried to get a photo of her but she snuck into the thick brush just beside the trail. She had obviously played this game before.

I passed only six hikers between the Hut and Mt Guyot and as I crested the trail nearing the Bondcliff Trail junction, I could see a couple people over on South Guyot and I had a feeling it was Chomp and VSA. My suspicions were confirmed and as I neared them, I heard Chomp call out "Boy, are you punctual!" I had said I would meet them between 11:00 and 11:30. I looked at my watch and it read 11:01. We chatted for a while and then headed out over the Twins together, stopping at each summit for at least 30 minutes taking in the views. It was slightly hazier than Saturday but we could still make out the mountains in Vermont.

We headed off North Twin and immediately met up with Brenda and Allison on the way up. Brenda and I had first met at Lakes Hut last June when she and Dave Metsky were doing their alpine flower tour in the opposite direction as I had just completed. We chatted for a few minutes then continued on our separate ways. We continued the long slog down the loose and rocky North Twin Trail, made the first river crossing and avoided the other two by continuing on the herd path that connects the last two crossings. At quarter of four we were at the car. We geared down, grabbed a cold drink out of my cooler and we headed out to drop them back at their car at the Wilderness Trail.

It was a fine way to end a great weekend of hiking. Thirty six miles, 9900 feet of elevation gain, excellent companions and wonderful weather. Can't get any better than that.

Photos are
here (http://community.webshots.com/user/loomstone) .

JohnL

carole
06-15-2004, 01:34 PM
Nice report and pictures, John.

The unidentified flower is rhodora :)

Dr. Dasypodidae
06-17-2004, 11:45 AM
Great trip reports! Yes, the weather this past weekend in the Whites was perfect for hiking. I climbed the Flume-Liberty loop on Saturday evening and the the Kinsmans from Lafayette Campground on Sunday evening, and did not get a single black fly bite or mosquito drilling; also hardly saw anyone else on the trails except at the summit of Liberty, Liberty Spings camp site, and at Lonesome Lake hut. Wish that I had taken more time for hiking, but exterior house work beckoned until late afternoon each day, when I could no longer resist.