|Up to Lonesome Lake!|
Despite being completely exhausted and sore from the weekend backpacking trip in Vermont, I got up early on Monday to hit the trails in the White Mountains with Yvonne and a few of our friends. I was scheduled to work for the rest of the week and wouldn’t have any other time to hike with Yvonne until a few weeks later, so now seemed like the right time, regardless of my body’s protests.
We got to the trail head at Lafayette Place Campground in Franconia Notch State Park with our friend Annie by 10:30, only a little behind schedule, and knew immediately that it would be a glorious day. The sky was crystal clear, the temperature already much higher than it had been the day before in Vermont, and the trail was beaten down to a solid highway. We’d brought our snowshoes, not sure what to expect in terms of trail conditions, but I hadn’t thought about the difference in traffic between the Green Mountains and the White Mountains– There had been no sign of people on Glastenbury, but every trail in the Notch Monday was solidly packed by hundreds of snowshoe-clad feet. We suited up with Microspikes and got a fast start to warm up.
|Don’t forget sunscreen. I did, and my lips got all sunburned (again).|
|North and South Kinsman over Lonesome Lake. The Hut is nestled in the woods just on the other side.|
There was good company along the trail, with several good-natured hikers up from various parts of New England to enjoy the mountains, but Yvonne set a brisk pace and we sped ahead to Lonesome Lake Hut. I hadn’t been to this area since 2007 on my Appalachian Trail through-hike, so it was nice to revisit old memories there. The day I’d passed the Kinsmans and Lonesome Lake on that hike had had typically nasty weather, so I’d never realized there were spectacular views of Franconia Ridge from both. This day was a perfect remedy for my previous lack of a view.
|Franconia Ridge towering over Lonesome Lake and Cannon Mountain.|
We met with my friend, Moss, at the hut, where she’d camped the night before. After a quick break there, we continued on up the Appalachian Trail to North Kinsman, crossing paths with about a dozen hikers along the way. Compared with the day before, the temperatures in the teens seemed perfectly balmy. Even better, the weather kept the sky clear of haze for some of the longest and crispest views I’ve seen in a long time. Vermont’s Mount Mansfield stood out on the western horizon, and the Percy Peaks and Sugarloaf Mountain on the Cohos Trail were distinctively white to the north. Of course, Franconia Ridge to the east dominated the view, looking positively arctic.
|I told Yvonne to pose, but only Chad the Hut Caretaker knew what I meant. We are that cool!|
After the previous few days in Vermont, having a packed trail and a quick out-and-back trip seemed almost easy, but my ankles were suffering from a bit of tendonitis (that’s what I get for doing big trips with no warm-up after several weeks of inactivity), and my exhaustion from the weekend began to catch up with me on the way down. Once we got back to the hut, I nearly fell asleep at the table. We had a sleepy walk back down to the car, and a long drive back to Keene. All in all, though, I couldn’t have asked for a better day to round out the weekend. The fatigue from several days of hiking is a wonderful feeling, especially after a long time without.