Monday, February 22, 2016

Cannon Mountain (WINTER 4K 12/48), February 21, 2016

Cannon Mountain (4,100) via Kinsman Ridge Trail, 2/21/16.

Miles:  4.2 (RT)

Elevation gain:  2,186'

Trailhead:  This hike starts at the Cannon Mountain Ski area.  I-93 to Franconia Notch State Park. Take Exit 34B (tramway).  As you head down the driveway there is a sign "Hiker Parking." Take a left and head to the far left end of the parking lot.

Hiked with Rich, Sandy, and five others on an AMC group hike.  

I'd hiked Cannon before (see previous report) but never in winter. In fact, the idea of hiking this particular trail in winter was intimidating to me because the trail is so steep.  (To be fair, I've never hiked this section of the Kinsman Ridge trail.  But I'd been hearing reports of treacherous footing in icy conditions.)

This winter, NH hikers are faced with the challenge of negotiating mud, slush and slick bulging ice flows, often on the same stretch of trail. 

So I figured I was in for a slippery up, and a cautious down today. I packed my microspikes and snowshoes - and crampons.

The snow situation in New Hampshire is bleak.  For weeks,  paltry amounts of snow graced our mountains, only to have warm temps melt it away. Luckily, Franconia Notch had just received about 8" of snow.  

The sticky snow clung to the (reported) ice bulges, protecting us from them.  The group wound up wearing microspikes and Hillsounds for the entire hike.

Parking lot.
Berm across from parking lot.
Past dirt berm- on the left - is the trailhead.

Trail starts out climbing.

Trail crosses a back country ski glade four times.
Crossing the glade run again.

Looking down the glade (second crossing).

Sleety snow, turning to lazy flakes.

Droopy trees further up. No sign of ice here!

After hiking up a series of steep switchback with surprisingly good footing, we reached the treeline ledges. Terrain is rocky but we had no problem heading forward (there are no scrambles).

Heading along the treeline.

No view today.

The group at the junction of KRT and the Rim trails.

We took a left onto Rim Trail. Kinsman Ridge trail runs concurrent with the Rim trail for a bit.

Trees and mountainside to the right, the abyss to the left.

Where the Kinsman Ridge trail splits and heads toward the Kinsmans.

At the "Observation Tower" sign we took a right and soon saw the tower.  The USGS markers are underneath the platform - not visible with the snow.

Tower in the distance.

On the deck.  Frosty trees above the slatted railing (filled in with rime ice).

Windy at the top so we took some pix and headed down.

There's a café near the observation tower.  Continue down the other side of the tower, cross a ski trail (Vista Way) and it's located a few yards down the slope.  We had lunch there.

It was warm and busy in the café.  After lunch we put our microspikes back on and headed toward the trail (crossing Vista Way again).

Staying away from the skiers on our way back to KRT.

Slight view of the café between the trees.

Heading down.

 On our way back we took a side trail to check out a geocache site.

Geocache area. Still no view.

Descending wasn't a problem. A few steep, somewhat slippery areas were easily negotiated. There were several groups on the trail today and where the snow had been scraped off the icy spots we still found a good grip as the ice had become soft as the temps rose.  

We got back down around 1:30 after a great hike  The crampons and snowshoes I'd brought stayed in my pack. 

Yes, it is a steep trail but blanketed with snow and newly broken out, it was a pleasure to hike.