August 19, 2012: North Kinsman

It was time for the annual family trip to NH that I hadn’t been on in years which meant it was also time to start planning another hike.  I waited until the last day of the trip for my hike and settled on something close to where we were staying so my ride didn’t have to go to far.  I first thought about South Kinsman but since you have to go over North Kinsman to get there, I figured I would do that one first.

The hike started from the Lafayette Campground and has an interesting beginning as I tripped by tents and people wandering around aimlessly like any modern campground has before I finally left “civilization ” behind and started climbing.

The first part of the trail takes you up to Lonesome Lake which is a favorite destination of tourists and campers wandering around aimlessly.  Just going up to the lake is about an hour hike and seems tough in places but the constant stream of little kids and baby’s taking their first hike make you hide your pain in shame.  One good thing about a busy trail is if my old nemesis the bear comes knocking then I don’t have to outrun the bear….just my fellow hikers!

After a good moderate climb, I soon reached the lake where I found 3 hikers frolicking in the shallow water nearby.  I made a quick turn to the left before they could pull me in and started following the trail around the lake which had some great views.  After catching some photos and also some zen, I arrived at the lonesome lake hut which was eerily quite.  I continued to follow the trail around the hut and past some gigantic propane tanks where I contemplated switching my water out for gas for the climb ahead but eventually thought better of it and plunged into the Fishing Jimmy Trail.

The trail started easily enough until I came to a sort of cliff in the middle of the trail that somehow seemed to have bear claw marks in it.  With visions of android bear hybrids that could maul rocks in my mind, I used the claw marks to my advantage as foot holders to make my way down this panic inducing scene. I heard voices up ahead so I gathered my wits and moved on ready for anything.

I soon came the source of the voices where a small group of hikers had stopped for some small talk.  Since small talk never remains small and things were sure to get ugly soon, I blew right past them entirely focused on putting some distance between me and the iron clawed bear that was sure to be stalking me by now. The lower part of this trail is a complete mud bomb but the existence of the hut at the beginning of the trail ensures that it is well maintained and I was able to cross the mud pools on some floating wood bridges.

The trail started to climb moderately and then things just got ridiculous.  It becomes basically a mad scramble up rock faces with wooden stairs placed on them.  This can really get awkward if someones coming down while another persons climbing up and neither see each other until the person coming down is sitting on the other persons head.  Luckily this did not happen to me and I made it  up the random star cases after a few close calls.

I continued on for a while and reached the summit trail which forks left to the Kinsman Pond, I put this side trip on hold and plunged straight ahead to make my final push to the summit.  I started reaching some bare patches in the trail which reviewed some nice views and more blue skies than I knew what to do with.   I ventured on and and came to some level ground with a nice large rock off the trail.  I stopped here to check my handy White Mountain Hiking Guide(ding ding) to see how much further I had to the summit.  It wasn’t far because I just happened to me standing on the summit already I learned. Apparently North Kinsman does not subscribe to the cairn system.

I was a little startled by this anti-climatic summiting of North Kinsman but according to my handy White Mountain Hiking Guide(ding ding), there was a small path that led from the summit area to a ledge with some “outstanding” views of the surrounding area.  The guide also said you could continue on to another ledge with dizzying views of the Kinsman Pond below.  I decided to check this out as well since being dizzy on a ledge is something I had never done before and I was rewarded for my efforts by not falling off.  I even saw a glider fly directly over head and took that as my queue that it was time to glide down myself.

I started to head down but stopped at the summit boulder again to grab my patented summit shots with my stick figure hiker which involved some acrobatics on my part and brought some frowns from the animal life.  After this photo op, I really started down again and decided to take a little side trip to the Kinsman Pond to see if any of my kinsman were there.  All I found was a lot of pond scum though but it was kind of scenic if you like a good mountain pond.

After this little side trip, I retraced my steps until I eventually came to the real steps that help poor tired hikers like myself from breaking bones on their way down the mountain.  Lonesome Lake was anything but lonesome when I eventually got back there as its docks were overflowing with the late sleepers from the campground below.

I blew by them like a man on a mission to get to the bottom of a mountain though which led to me eventually getting to the bottom of the mountain.  6 down, 42 to go!