Monday, May 28, 2007

On the AT - Rt. 112, Kinsman Notch to Franconia Notch, NH

May 28, 2007 | Miles: 7.5
Start: Rt. 112, Kinsman Notch
End: Eliza Brook Shelter
After pouring rain last night, things cleared up pretty well! We had beautiful blue skies and a nice breeze to keep things cool. The spring flowers were everywhere! Violets, trout lilies, painted and purple trillium, the blue beads were starting to flower, bunchberry, star flowers, wild oats, bluets, the hobblebush were blooming and the woods were nice and green! The views from Mt. Wolf were nice, with Franconia Notch in clear view. The trail itself was rough—lots of rocks, roots and many blowdowns made for slow going all day long. The 7.5 miles took us 5 hours, but we made it to Eliza Brook Shelter before 3pm. What a nice spot! The Brook was running well—don’t we wish all water sources were like that! There was one other hiker at the shelter—“GG,” a great grandmother attempting to finish her hike of the AT—good for her!—who we hung out with until about 6pm when the bugs got too bad. Then into the tent we went, and to sleep EARLY! We should get 12 hours of sleep every night J Two older gentlemen rolled into the shelter around 8pm, but we were already half asleep…

First backpack of the season and real test of the old bones. OK, maybe not that old, but in words of Indiana Jones: “It’s not the years. It’s the mileage.” Short story: some grouchiness in my right knee of late. My plan for the day was to just take it slow, which is tough to do with Danielle cracking the whip, but she was cool with just moseying. The climb out of Kinsman Notch is a good way to wake up, and it was humid…therefore, I was soggy. Nothing of great interest to report from the climb up Mt. Wolf. Overall, it’s a pleasant journey, and a hike I wanted to do for a while. It’s definitely worth it to take the side trail to the view. The trail after Mt. Wolf down to the junction with the Reel Brook Trail…well, it sucks. Down, then up, then down, rocky, puddish, more rocky, no flow, no rhythm, just not that fun. Plus, along the whole way there were blowdowns a plenty…should have carried a chainsaw and a team of horses to pull out the logs. Eliza Brook Shelter is a really nice spot. It was just us and a 70 year-old woman, GG, section hiking the AT. She seemed really happy to see us to have someone to share the evening. But the evening didn’t last long as the black flies were overly friendly, so we climbed in the tent about 6:30. So, we decided to just go to sleep. Ah, life on the trail. Best of all, no pain in my knee today, just general fatigue from, you know, walking.

May 29, 2007 | Miles: 8.9
Start: Eliza Brook Shelter
End: Franconia Notch Bikepath
Amazing how early you can get up if you’ve gone to bed at 6pm :-) We were all packed up and on the trail by 7:30, but of course, as always with us, everyone else managed to get out of the shelter before us! Beat again… The trail wound up and along Eliza Brook, treating us to some wonderful cascades and the nice sound of water for a while. Then, it was up, up, up. Again, the trail was rough, and there were a lot of blowdowns. Only a few sections of snow, but nothing much. Wingnut wasn’t kidding about his description of the ascent/descent of South Kinsman involving many rock scrambles! Finally caught up with the pair of gentlemen staying at the shelter. One of them started his thru-hike February 26 and was planning to finish on Katahdin by June 17. Wow! Impressive… After a steep, wet descent of North Kinsman, we had lunch by a nice stream on Fishin’ Jimmy Trail and finally made it down to Lonesome Lake, where we were treated to gorgeous views of Franconia Ridge! The final 3 miles were a breeze, and we made it to the car in good time. After a stop for brownie sundaes in Lincoln, we made it home in time to shower, get groceries and be eating pizza by 7:30pm! Not bad… All in all, a wonderful weekend!

Early to bed, early to rise to start this entry with a cliché. Cloudy and cool start at 7:30, but the trail along Eliza Brook is beautiful. The trail follows the brook for a couple miles up the side of South Kinsman…really nice. Couple grouchy blowdowns along the way, and then it gets steep. This trail is not messing around. We caught up with GG not far from the South Kinsman summit. She was moving pretty slowly but was still in good spirits. I was very impressed. The clouds had almost lifted by the time we hit South Kinsman. Enough to look sunny, but still kind of in the clouds. The wind was movin’, so we didn’t linger. The section between South and North Kinsman is your typical high, wooded ridge in the Whites…in other words, it’s beautiful and pretty much my favorite type of hiking. On top of North Kinsman, we met up with a duo, one out for a couple days, the other had started in Georgia on Feb. 16. Dude is movin’. Good bet he’s staying at Garfield Ridge tonight. The sun was full out now, and the wind had died so we chatted with them a bit before moving on. The trail down North Kinsman is the trail down North Kinsman. Rocky and rough. It doesn’t get much easier on the Fishin’ Jimmy Trail although psychologically, it feels like it should. Oh yeah, my knee has felt great the whole time. Let’s see…beautiful view at Lonesome Lake, sunny along Cascade Brook, eventually made it to Route 93. A great hike on the AT in NH. (The walk on the Franconia Bike Path to our car at the Flume Visitor Center wasn’t great, but that mile doesn’t really “count.”) No snow to speak of anywhere along any of these trails. The dominant features were blowdowns and trilliums—take the good with the bad. The trails are very wet and muddy, but it’s May in the Whites.