Trip Report: Kinsmans…4000 footers done!

Finally the day had arrived, I was going to be able to finish my 4000 footers.  I had wanted to end on West Bond (see that hike) or something over there because I love that ridge.  However, the timings didn’t work out, so I ended up with the shorter Kinsman hike left over.   That was convenient because I had little desire to hike West Bond today, especially after the tragedy from a couple days ago.  I do crazy hikes in the summer all the time, but the winter is a different beast.  In the summer, you have to be stupid a numer of times to die, in the winter that number is much smaller.

I was off for the week so I drove up early in the morning (stopping for a bagel sandwich in Lincoln) and headed to Lafeyette Campground.  There are several different ways to approach the Kinsmans and apparently a lot of people choose to go up the western Mt. Kinsman Trail.  I think Fishin’ Jimmy was a bit of a tough trail (?) but that route goes past Lonesome Lake Hut, which is an awesome place to stop in on your way up or down.

Trip stats
Distance: 10 miles
Elevation Gain: 3800 ft
Total time: 6 hours (8:25pm-2:25pm) – About 20 minutes of rest in total (10 at hut, 5 at top, 5 at random)
Weight: 25?? pounds (2L water, dried food/candy, jacket and shell, sleeping bag liner, Tyvek square, phone, headlamp, snowshoes, crampons, microspikes, extra Socks, GPS, medium-weight pack)
Peaks: Kinsman Mountain, Kinsman Mountain – North Peak
Water Consumed: 2L total
Things that went right:
  • Putting a belt on my snowpants was an awesome idea, they didn’t slip down at all
  • The new insulated Nalgene holder worked very well
  • My new larger OR gaiters finally fit over my boots correctly, yay!!!
Things that went wrong:
  • Abductor cramping…traction/crampon sidewise walking is a movement I’m not used to
  • Glove moisture control is completely lacking…I fled the peak because my fingers were freezing…consider bringing a bunch of glove liners to switch out
  • Feet were blistering because the boots are too loose

To get to Lafayette campground, you need to be on the southbound side of 93.  So if you’re coming from the south, you need to turn around at the Cannon/tramway exit and go back down.  Once off the exit, in the winter you need to park in the further away parking lot.  The one next to the trailhead is not plowed.

From the parking lot, the view did not look that inspiring.  But I was here to conquer, not to enjoy.  I suited up.  There were two other cars suiting up at the same time, I guess 8am is popular.  I just want to say that getting your gear on in above-0F weather is so much better than below-0F.  A couple of my winter hikes have been brutal and this was relatively pleasant.

I headed up the Lonesome Lake trail after a couple that had started a couple minutes earlier.  At the time, I didn’t appreciate it as much but it was a very well-graded packed powder trail and I made very good time with my microspikes on.  I caught up to the couple right as they headed up the trail to Cannon.  It seemed barely a couple minutes more and I was standing at Lonesome Lake Pond, looking across to the hut.  Still no visibility, but having the pond clearing was nice.  I saw some kids across the pond with some sleds.  I met them as I walked around the pond.  I decided to skip out on the hut on the way up because I was super fresh and didn’t want to slow down.

Fishin’ Jimmy Trail was tough but my legs were still strong so I didn’t really notice it.  There were several ice floes that challenged my microspikes but I managed to avoid my crampons until the last one.  There wasn’t really a detour or a good tree or something to grab onto.  So I sat down and slipped on the crampons.  They aren’t that hard to put on, but sitting down is always a big thing to contemplate in freezing temperatures.  Ironically of course, that was the only thing that really needed the crampons and I ended up trudging along with them for most of the rest of the trip.

I finally reached Kinsman Ridge Trail and then walked what seemed to be way more than .2 miles to get to the northern peak.  Along the way I met a large group from Conway (part of a Wednesday hiking group that I can’t even find on the web).  That peak was pretty unimpressive and in the complete fog, even more unimpressive.  I had a quick water break and moved on, getting ahead of the Conway group but being passed by a solo hiker that was tearing along.  Eventually I reached the summit of the southern peak, which is the primary peak of Kinsman. This peak was more exposed and impressive and had a throne-like cairn.  Note that there is a false summit a couple hundred yards away, keep going until you see the large cairn.

There I was excited to have completed my 4000 footer journey.  But also my fingers were super-wet and freezing very quickly.  So I stayed around to snap a shot of the Conway group, get a couple high fives and then moved back down the mountain.  If this was summer, I might have lingered and enjoyed the moment, but freezing fingers makes for quick feet.  I met a nice hiker named Anthony on the way down who took my picture and chatted about plastic boots for a bit.  I also stopped in the hut, but just long enough to scarf down some food, grab some water, and switch my gloves.  My feet had started to blister and I wanted to get out of my boots.  There were a TON of people coming up midday, I assume just to go to the hut and then hike down.  At least one couple was wearing peacoats and carrying purses, which I tried not to judge too harshly.

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