Night Hike on Cannon Mtn.

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Jan 2, 2004
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As is the case at least once or twice over the summer, I'll head up for a night hike to beat the summer heat and get a new perspective on a familiar trail.
I originally had planned to hit the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail up to Monroe with a possible loop over Washington via the Jewell Trail. However, coming through North Conway I heard a weather alert over the radio about a strong cell of thunderstorms moving through northern New Hampshire with a possible hit on eastern Coos county. Rather than tempt fate, I decided to pick something a bit less exposed with some easy bailout options should the weather turn – Cannon Mtn via the Kinsman Ridge Trail from the Tramway parking lot seemed like a good plan B.
I got to the KRT trailhead at about 1am, laced up the boots, fired up the head lamp and headed up.

This trail is always a bit of a calf and lung burner for me as the trail starts gaining elevation immediately, and today was no exception. Even in the dark, the air was thick and heavy and I was working up quite a sweat. I came across this guy parked in the middle of the trail about ½ mile in. About ¾ of an inch with bright orange markings.

I had never seen anything like him before. I looked him up later and discovered it was a burying beetle. They collect dead rodents and birds and bury them to feed their young. They are also one of the few insects that rear their young.
Continuing on I had a luna moth following me (well, my headlamp) for a few 10ths of a mile until he got bored and wandered off.

Other than almost stepping on a toad, this was the extent of the wildlife I saw on this hike. My friends and family always react with shock when I hike at night, they always ask ‘aren’t you afraid of animals?’ – I am – but only on the drive up to the trailhead at night, which is typically a white-knuckled affair where I am laser-focused on the periphery of the road in my headlights the entire way (on this trip I had a near miss with a possum, saw at least 3 foxes crossing the road at different times, a baby deer grazing in a culvert and what I think was a fisher cat hissing at me from the road shoulder).
My biggest fear while actually on the trail (and at the trailhead) is getting sprayed by a skunk. Other than being dive bombed by an owl or a bat one time on Mt. Jackson I have seen nothing beyond insects and toads on the trails at night (although I’m sure they are there just beyond the reach of my headlamp).
Despite the humidity and some fairly eroded and rough sections along the KRT (particularly where it coincides with the glade ski trail) I made decent time (for me) and arrived at the viewpoint on the eastern shoulder of Cannon around 2:30am.
Both the Moon and Mars were bright in the night sky and I attempted to get some shots of the sky and valley.

After a few pictures and a quick snack I continued on for the summit. The col between the east shoulder and the summit was quite muddy, but I imagine this will dry out quickly in the next couple of days. I made the summit around 3:15 am and headed up the observation tower to setup my tripod and wait for sunrise.
Around 4am the first hints of daybreak were visible in the east and it wasn’t long after that the surrounding mountains were bathed in morning light. The summit of Lafayette was quickly enveloped in cloud cover – unfortunate for anyone staying at the Greenleaf hut and hoping for a magnificent sunrise!

After taking several pictures and enjoying the cool breeze I headed back down via the rim trail and the KRT trail. The morning light made for a beautiful descent on the upper portion of this trail.

On the way down the KRT trail morning clouds began to roll in making for some interesting sky in the east.

I passed a group of women ascending the KRT trail just before reaching the trailhead - the only people I saw on this hike. Hope they had a good hike, although the heat and humidity was already quite oppressive by the time I reached my car.
Another great night hike on a NH 4k peak!
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