Saturday, October 27, 2012

#33: S. Kinsman Oct, 27, 2012

#33,  S. Kinsman (4003') 10/27/12.
10/27/12    Saturday.  I was hoping to do a Birthday hike next week,  but with Hurricane Sandy on the way I figured I better get one in before the storm.  I decided to make a third attempt to S. Kinsman.  On my first attempt last January I had a delay driving up and ended up changing my destination to Cannon after reaching Lonesome Lake.  On my second attempt (also last January),  I started up cascade brook trail from The Basin planning to take Kinsman Pond trail, but ended up going up via Lonesome Lake because the Kinsman Pond trail wasn’t broken out.  I made it to N. Kinsman but stupidly turned back at that point because I thought I’d run out of daylight but also because I ran out of steam.   This time, to be different,   I decided to go up Kinsman Trail from Rt 116.  Since I was doing this as a one day drive up-hike-drive back, I got an early start and figured I do the first hour by moonlight and headlamp.  Evidently the current trailhead is “new” (not sure how new)  from  a sandy parking lot and meanders through the woods for a bit before meeting up with the old trail which is an easily followed wide old logging road.   The trail has what looks like new bright blue blazes which made following this section of the trail easy on the way back down, but which were nearly useless in the dark.   Despite the trail being covered with leaves , at first, I did pretty well at following it, more by instinct than anything else, and was happy every time I did come close enough to a blaze that confirmed that I was still on the trail.  I did however finally miss a sharp turn in the trail and wondered around for nearly half an hour in a big bushwhack circle (ie: I was l;ost in the woods).  Checking my GPS  track later against the map , it turns out that I had gotten pretty close to the trail half way through my wondering and if I hadn’t  turned west  to try and intercept the trail, I would have ran into it further up and actually have saved time.  I probably could have figured this out by map & compass, but I figured I’d wait until day break to do that if needed.  I really need to get the map software for the trails into my GPS.   Does anybody know if the Garmin Northeast trail map software actually has most of the trails in the whites?   After getting on the original logging road trail with the sun rising, following the trail was no problem even though it was covered with leaves.  The logging road passes a strangely isolated building which the AMC guide calls a “sugar shack”.  I wasn’t sure what that meant (other than a song from the 60’s) but on the way down when there was more daylight  I could peek inside the crack at the loosely hasped door  and could see the buckets and other paraphernalia used to collect the sap from maple trees for maple syrup (see pics).  I have since checked the web and indeed a “sugar shack” is a building where they process maple syrup from sap.  The hike up to Kinsman ridge was uneventful with several easy small stream crossings. There was a lot of wet moss and lichens on rocks on the trail after the trail started getting some elevation but they didn’t seem too slippery (at least on the way up).    On Kinsman ridge trail going up to N. Kinsman there are a few slightly challenging, interesting  scrambles that I recall being much worse in January when covered with solid Ice. Good views from the outlook just east of the trail at N. Kinsman. However I didn’t stay long, wanting to get to my “nemesis”,  S. Kinsman.     The Southern side of N. Kinsman also has some short scrambles, probably harder than those on the North side but still not too bad.  For me it was a fairly easy 1 ½ hours additional time to hike over to S. Kinsman and back with a short lunch break on S. K.  Makes me all the more disappointed in with myself for turning back last January.  That decision cost me $100 in gas just to pick up one peak that I should have been able to bag then.   Funny thing,  is that if I decide to try for the 48 4K’s in the winter, I’m going to have to do S. Kinsman again.  My January N. Kinsman hike would count as a winter peak.   S. Kinsman also has some nice views west, if you’re standing up, from a clearing just to the East of it. But not as nice as from N. K. Coming back I took a small break at the viewing cliff near N. Kinsman but was in kind of a hurry to get back down and reduce my night time driving time.  I was already an hour behind what I thought was my worst case schedule (partly due to being lost in the woods for ½ hour).  After leaving the ridge and heading down Kinsman trail I had a hard time with the mossy section of the trail and probably slipped and nearly fell more than half a dozen times. This was partly because I have no more tread on the heel of  my summer hiking boots that will be getting thrown out soon, and partly because I was rushing more than I should.  I actually made it down pretty fast for me with a moving average speed of 2.5 mph from the ridge to the trail head.  The total 9.8 mile hike with +/- 3878 elevation gain took me almost 10 hours (0600 – 1545). Subtracting out my peak breaks and my “lost in the woods” time, my actual hiking time was probably 8:45 hrs  vs. the AMC book time of 6:50, typical of my 1.3 X book time.   After completing the hike I drove a short way North on Rt 116 to see if the logging road did continue to Rt 116 and found that it did and that the old Kinsman trailhead sign was still there.  There is a chain across the entrance saying that this section of the trail is closed.  I suspect they moved the trailhead so that they could create a parking lot for it.    On hind sight I could have parked at the new trailhead before day break and walked ¼ mile up to the old trailhead and had no problems staying on it in the dark.  I’ll keep this in mind if I decide I want to do the winter list.


Leaf covered trail

mossy part of trail

rooty partr of trail

geologiocal marker on Kinsman ridge (not AT A PEAK)







ACTUAL N. KINSMAN PEAK (per AMC guide book)

interesting gargol growth on tree -
 or a boxer dog if you focuis on the far right spot being a nose.

volunteer trail keepers area?

the sugar shack

peek inside the sugar shack

where the new trail meets the old trail logging road

posted list of "adopt a trail volunteers"

Warning sign for Hurricane Sandy

back at the trail head


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

#28 - # 32: Three Carters & Two Cats, Oct 8 & 9, 2012

Oct 8:  M. Carter(#28),   S. Carter(#29),  Mt Hight,  Carter Dome #30
Oct 9: Wildcat "A"(#31), Wildcats "B" thru "C", WildCat "D" (#32)

  Day1:  Drove to Wildcat Mt ski area and stashed a bike,  Drove 3 miles down rt 16 to 19-mile trail trailhead,~ 0.6 mile road hike to Camp Dodge,   ~0.2 mile easy bushwack to Imp trail., 8.7 mile hike
to Carter Notch Hut on Imp and Carter-Moriah trail .
 Day 2:  3 mile hike from Carter Notch Hut to top of Wildcat "D.  ~1.5 miles down the ski slope to my stashed bike, ~3.0 mostley down bike ride to bcak to my truck.

This is a hike that I had originally planned to do last month with my grandson Kris, but it was canceled because of weather.   I ended up doing it solo on the above dates.  The final hike ended up being a two day loop hut hike starting at the 19-Mile trail trailhead, 1/2 mile walk down Rt 16 to Camp Dodge, a short bushwhack to Imp trail, up Imp and North Carter trails to the Carter-Moriah trail. Then, heading South I baggied Middle Carter(#28),  South Carter(#29),  Mt Hight (thanks for the good advice Chris), and Carter Dome(#30), and then continued to the AMC Carter Notch Hut for an off season over night. Second day continued up the Wildcat Ridge trail bagging Wildcat "A" (#31), and Wildcat "D"(#32),  then down the most northern Wildcat ski trails to a short bushwhack to the northern parking lot of the Ski area to a bicycle that I had stashed in the woods the morning before and finally a fast 3 mile downhill bike ride down Rt 16 back to the 19-mile Trail trail-head.

The weather was all over the place for this two day hut hike. First day started clear but ended up with heavy mist and snow mist that actually started getting uncomfortable and forced me to add layers then, cleared just long enough to get great views from Mt Hight with great views all around. Tuesday was fogged in all morning until 15 minutes after starting down Polecat ski slope. Then great views of the foliage and the white capped Presidents while hiking down, other than Washington which still stayed in the clouds. Foliage in the valley was fantasticc, but still not as multi colored as from Waterville Valley slopes after Tecumseh a week earlier. Workers were busy weed-whacking tall grass on the ski trails (see pics).

Most eventfull part of the hike was while I was gearing up at the 19-mile trail-head on Monday morning. I was startled (scared actually) by a huge bull moose charging down RT 16, seemingly right at me. I jumped behind my truck and he darted just on the other side of the truck and into the woods. He probably had just crossed the road and was trying to get back into the woods that were blocked by cars and a road barrier. God he was huge!!

I had stashed a bike in the woods at the Wildcat ski area Monday morning. The bike ride from the ski area to 19-mile trail head is almost all downhill and saved me an hour of road hiking at the end of the 2 day hike.

Snow started appearing above 3500 ft , mostly in the trees and not on the trails but also packed on the bog bridges along the Carter Ridge trails.  I was pretty much exhausted by the time I got to Carter Notch Hut Monday evening. The hut was in the self-service season which means you have to bring and cook your own food but you have full use of the kitchen, stove, pots,  pans,  plates, bowls,  etc.  The bunks only have mattresses and pillows in the off season so you need to bring your sleeping bag.   Not being a Saturday, the hut was less then half full and I was able to get a 6 bunk bunk room all to myself (see pictures).    $25 for shelter, a nice bunk and mattress, kitchen facilities, water supply, and bathroom facilities is a pretty good deal I think.  

First day was a bit tough but I thought the second day would be easy once I got past the steep climb out of the notch.  Wrong!!  Lots of PUDS (pointless up and downs)  between "A" and "D" . When I arrived at the tower on "D" it was still overcast with no views. I went down to the top of the ski lift and gave my wife Debi a call to check out the webcam there while I took a break at a picnic table that was in its view. She did sort of see me but mostley just haze. However,15 minutes after starting down the polecat ski slope, the sky cleared and I could see most of the white capped Presidents and the great foliage below. Washington did stay in the clouds all the way down.  Near the end of the slopes I could see the north parking lot through the trees near were I had stashed my bike the morning before, so I did a short bushwhack across a wooded valley to the lot and saved myself another 15-20 minutes.

The  3 mile bike ride back to 19-mile trail head was mostly just a fast coast (my GPS said I got up to 25 mph).

Click on pictures to enlarge.

 Imp trail below 3500'

Imp (or N. Carter) above 3500'

Top of N. Carter  Trail at Carter - Moriah Trail

Bog Bridges along Carter Ridge

First break in the cloads looking toward M. Carter (I think)

#28 Middle Carter Peak - not very impressive

View from the Carter Ridge.

#29 South Carter Peak - Also not too impessive.

Sign for Alpine Area going up Mt Hight

Views from Mt Hight -
well worth the extra elevation change.

 More views from Mt Hight
Still more views from Mt Hight.

What I thought was Carter Dome Peak

#30 Actual Carter Dome Peak

View from Carter Ridge
Just before the very steep drop off to Cart Notch and the Hut.

 One of the two small lakes near the Hut,
A family fishing there said it was stocked with small troat.

My private bunk room at Carter Notch Hut.
 Everything is airing and drying out

A toast to a great day in the Whites.
The extra 22 oz of weight was almost worth it.

1 of 2 bunk houses

Main hut dining area

Hut kitchen.

 Hut stove.

An early start up Wildcat "A"

Most of Tuesday looked like this.

Near Wildcat "A" summit #31 -
It must have been an easy hike up - I think I'm actually smiling!

zigzag bog bridges on Wildcat Ridge- looked new

Tower on top of Wildcat "D" #32  -
Can you see Mt Washington over my right shoulder?

Top of the ski lift.
I think the Presidents are somewhere behind the fog.

15 minutes after heading down, the fog starts to clear.
I was tempted, but I wasn't about to hike back up for the views.

Dozens of workers on the slopes weed-wacking the tall grass
getting ready for the ski season.

Cloads still clearing.

Views kept getting better.

Access road along beginner slopes was a bit muddy.

Back at 19 Mile Trail Head.
Weather could have been better, but still -
one of my better hikes.