North and South Kinsman - 1/may/99

By David Metsky

Map of the route.

It was a fine spring day, and Brenda and I were looking for a relatively short trip that would get her two new 4000'ers and was a reasonably short drive. Since Ed and Kathy were joining us, the closer to Hanover the better. Sifting through all that info, we settled on the Kinsman. As it turns out, Kathy (and Jobildunk) were under the weather, so it was just a threesome that set out that fateful morn from the Lafayette Place Campground. There was no snow on the ground there, but we could see it up higher. I suggested that we carry our snowshoes, ensuring that we wouldn't need them. By 10:00 we were off.

The trip up to Lonesome Lake was uneventful. We met some folks coming down who said that wished they had brought snowshoes as beyond the hut the snow got deep. We didn't really encounter snow until just before the lake. At the hut we got some nice views of the lake and the ridge, but we could tell that it was just going to get better and better the higher we went. And it did. There was a hard ridge of snow in the center of the trail that had been compressed by snowshoes all winter. As long as you stayed on it, you were fine, but if you ventured off the center you sank. It was a bit of work, but we made it to the summit before long. The summit is just a bump next to a cairn right before you hit the great ledges that face west.

We grabbed the first half of our lunch here, lying in the sum and soaking up the view. There really isn't a better ledge in the Whites, all things considered. Climbing up Franconia Ridge is great, but you don't get to see it when your on top of it. After the appropriate amount of Sol worship we pushed on to South Peak. The trail drops fairly quickly from the North summit, and the trail was in bad shape with winter blowdowns. On the way there is a nice view of the broad summit of South Peak. The climb back up was marked by a few wonderful postholes, but we got there and had the place all to ourselves. There's actually a view from the summit cairn on this peak. It's a great feeling to be alone on a summit on a sunny spring day, not a worry in the world. After a rest, water, and a Powerbar, we headed back. Just after we started down again there's a great view back to North Kinsman.

It seemed very quick getting back to South Peak. It's only about a mile, but having just done it an hour before the trip back seemed to take no time at all. I let Ed and Brenda down past the main ledges to the lower ledges which have a great view of Kinsman Pond. They're a little more exposed, but worth the extra 2 minutes journey. Finally we gave up the views and headed back down for good. Some of the stream/falls crossings were pretty interesting, having iced up a bit in the late afternoon and with our momentum pushing us downhill, we had a few close calls. Finally we got back to the hut and took a relaxing moment on the shores of Lonesome Lake before finishing up at the car.

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