Kinsmans via Lonesome Lake, Fishin' Jimmy, Kinsman Ridge Trail

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Oct 4, 2006
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New Hampshire
Since I had to take some vacation time between jobs, I used the opportunity to bag a few peaks. The weather this week was extremely fickle, with several days of various snow storms of varying intensity. Friday was the best weather day, and I packed up my office on Thursday, and was off on Friday. Marc Howes wanted the Kinsmans for his winter list, I needed them for the all-season and winter lists, and Dave Peterson wanted them for his winter list. I had not been up there before, but Marc and Dave had.

We met at the Lafayette Crampground a bit before 7am and put on snowshoes. Dave and I both had our MSR Denalis. I had 4" tails and he had 8" tails. Since I outweigh him by 30+ pounds I 'offered' to take the 8" tails and this worked out well for both of us. We left the snowshoes on for the duration of the trip, although I took the tails off just above the lake.

The Lonesome Lake Trail was broken out to the hut, via the Lonesome Lake shortcut (over the lake). An inch or two had fallen over night but we made the hut in 50 minutes. The Kinsman Shelter sign was buried, and the Fishin' Jimmy sign (opposite the hut steps) was just above the snow. A stroll behind the sign to the measuring stick showed the snow depth at 58 inches. It was snowing lightly and none of the peaks usually visible from the lake were in sight.

Next came the infamous Fishin' Jimmy trail, with its many Pointless Ups and Downs (PUDs). I didn't find it all that annoying, although it bothered Marc enough to express his sentiments with a frowning face. The trail was completely unbroken here, save for an occasional slight depression down the middle, the former snowshoe track. The white blazes along the way were hard to spot in the snow. Most were only a foot or two above the snow, and some were right at the snow line. I'd bet there were some that were buried. The trail was narrow here, with the snow-and-ice-laden trees hang or leaning low over the trail. Keep in mind the trail was raised up about five feet, so most of these branches are well over your head during the summer. Breaking out the two miles took just under two hours. From the hut to South Kinsman, we used a thirteen-minute rotation to share trail-breaking duties. I got to watch the hiking rods in action as Marc "brushed" the trail.

The sign at the Kinsman Ridge Trail junction was buried up to the bottom of the lower sign. We stopped for a hydration and fuel break and put on shells as the breeze, while light, was noticeable here. Like Fishin' Jimmy, the KRT elevated its users by a good 4-5 feet, forcing us to duck under, around and through the dangling spruce branches. We had a very brief glimpse of the Northeast Cannonball and the town of Franconia below us and to the west, but before the camera could come out, it closed back up.

Another 40 minutes later, we had reached the completely non-descript summit of North Kinsman. After taking a brief pause for photos, and some glove changes, we set off for South Kinsman. I'm sure there were views to be had along this stretch, but we were still in the clouds and could see only 2-300 feet away. There was some nice glissading to be had in the powder here. The 9/10ths was covered in about an hour. The cairn on South Kinsman was completely encased in ice. I opened up my still-steaming stainless steel vacuum bottles and had coffee and hot soup (Italian Wedding) which really hit the spot. Dave and Marc apparently didn't enjoy watching me he hot food as they turned and headed back. I joined them shortly.

The going on the return trip was much easier thanks to three guys who'd broken out the trail earlier. About half way to the Fishin' Jimmy, a group of three was working their way up. They thanked us for breaking the trail, we wished them a nice hike, hinted they would find it easy going all the way to South Kinsman, and continued on. More glissading, a little bit of butt sliding, and then those dreaded FJ PUDs. Well, at least when they go past, you're at the hut. By afternoon, the Northeast Cannonball was visible, as were portions of Franconia Ridge. Driving south on 93 I could see all four (five) of the peaks were out of the clouds. We made it back to the car in 7 hours and 10 minutes, 25 minutes (106%) slower than book time (which of course doesn't apply to winter.)

This makes 30 and 31 on my all-season list and 5 and 6 on my winter list.

All photos:

tim congrats on two more peaks. i did the same hike last sat. after the rain with minimal trailbreaking and very similar perhaps less views in 4 hours 35 minutes. goes to show how that pesky powder slows you down. did you see the kinsman pond trail sign at kinsman junction? the snow was to the base of the sign when i was there.

Great report and pics! Can't wait until tomorrow morning. Even knowing there was a lot of snow up here, we were still suprised at how much when we pulled into the campground.
Wow, you guys did a great job making those snowshoe tracks!!

We were able to bare boot it all the way! Thanks for the signs, I was a little dissapointed to be left out. :cool: I added my own writings.

It was a great hike and the trees were beautfull, tons of snow & ice.

Thanks again to all that made our hike easier!!

#44 & #45 winter for me!!!
The Kinsman Pond Shelter sign, underneath the Fishin' Jimmy sign, opposite LL hut was not visible on the way up Friday :eek:

I see you found your names. I'm surprised the wind did them no harm!