Archive for February 2014

Kinsman Overnight (The annual?)

Fred Knight, solo

I wanted to hike North and South Kinsman with an overnight, just like last year and the one a few years ago with Chuck, Matt, Lea, and Ravi. It was another satisfying adventure with a few differences. Although there were similar snow conditions, it was colder (probably -10 deg F or colder at night). I avoided the hut and built a snow fort in the early afternoon and had my sleeping system down pat. I did North and South Kinsman on the first day and just hiked the 2.5 hours out in the morning. The evening meal was piping hot (Ramen and sausage, like Mike’s fare from last week), but the stove wouldn’t light in the morning (frozen orifice?). Luckily, I kept by egg tortilla in the sleeping bag, so it was at room temp—but not hot.

See pics here.

bivy in place
The night went pretty well, but I was not completely cozy. The snow fort kept almost all of me cozy warm, but the bag opening at the top was a little leaky. Stuffing my mittens at my shoulders helped, but I have to add a wider collar or use my Frostline bag, whose drawstring holds better, instead of the NeverSummer bag. I did fine and didn’t want to get up in the morning due to being pretty comfortable. The wind picked up in funny gusts during the night: perfect calm then a single blast many times over. The fort remained tight except my tarp came off so on my second call of nature I tied it to a tree. I’ll have to measure where the wind comes from and do a little more guying of the tarp. I might also make a longer fort to protect my head more or modify the bivy to close its opening or use a small tent (heavens!) inside the snow walls. I am thinking of these couple small improvements, but I really like the system. Tarpy likes it!

Summary:

~11 miles, two peaks (North and South Kinsman), overnight in snow fort.

Mt Garfield Overnight

Mike Fred

Mike Pineault, Fred Knight

We expected to find lots of new snow (pdf) with clear skies on at least the first day.  We were surprised to find a trail well packed, without the need for snow shoes most of the way, and clear skies both days!  The pics tell the story, and here is a commentary.

See the pics here.

map map

Wednesday’s snow brought an end to the icy conditions that Steve Smith and I experienced on Franconia Ridge four weeks earlier.  Mike and I wanted to do an overnight and chose Mt Garfield, with a stay at the Garfield Hut.  Depending on conditions, we’d do more or less, adding Garfield Ridge like last year’s trip if feasible.  With a mid-morning start, the trail was well-packed due to many hikers in front of us (18 cars in the parking lot!).  We carried all the gear and took ~4 hours to reach the Garfield/Garfield Ridge junction, with 1.2-mile road walk a total of 6 miles.  Dropping our packs (yes!), we took the climb up to the peak and got some clear-sky views of Franconia Ridge to the west and the Twins and Bonds to the east and south.  Back down to the packs, we hiked the steep downhill to the hut, to find its trail unbroken so we donned the snowshoes for the short walk to the hut.  Once there, we set up Mike’s tent.

The stay was cold but pleasant.  Two other gentlemen were in the hut.  Mike’s dinner of tomato soup and Ramen with sausage, and my chocolate hit the spot.  I got into my sleeping gear (underwear, socks, down booties, and shell of parka with sleeping bag zippered to it) before dinner and was cozy.  Wanting to satisfy any after-dinner calls of nature, I stayed up until well after 7pm!  Mike was already in his bag.  I slept soundly until 2am to satisfy a call of nature, which required significant extraction from the tent.  Mike weathered the interruption but got uninterrupted sleep only after 3am.  We traded snoring stories in the morning.  The night probably reached close to -10 deg F.  The tent works well, but I think my bivy might still be my accommodation of choice with its warmth due to surrounding snow in spite of the open mouth at my head.  The frost accumulation was not too significant inside the tent, but the open bivy with my parka hat does even better at eliminating moisture build up.  The hot water bottles are tremendous!  I also kept my mittens and our breakfast inside the out bag.  Mike has two sleeping pads, which might be good; my R5 pad is bulky but sufficient.  One other attribute of the bivy is its ability to keep the sleeping gear aligned—and to allow an fashioned sleeping pillow of snow underneath.  All-in-all a  pretty cozy night, although I felt the morning cold slightly.

The stove was somewhat slow, especially in the morning, but I got the egg-bacon-ham-veggy-ginger-tortilla wraps piping hot.  Mike stored the tent.  We took close to 3 hours to get going, and skies varied from cloudy to clear.  By the time we starting heading out on snowshoes for the climb back to the peak, it was unexpectedly clear.  We again dropped our packs at the junction, did the ascent back to Mt Garfield, found little wind and sunlit peaks, recorded poses for posterity, met the first arriving Sunday hikers, and got back to the junction for the trip down by 11am.  On the early part of the descent, we met a number of groups of hikers.  The temperature stayed in the teens I think all the way back.  I gave my map to a couple who looked lost at the trail head.  The road walk was a trudge.  We made it back by 1:45 and drove home happy.

Summary:

~13.6 miles, 3834′ elevation gain, ~9 hrs (1.5 hrs over book time) hiking over two days with overnight at the Garfield Hut, Mt Garfield summit twice.

Pawtuckaway State Park, NH

Lea and Matt Hansen, Dave Trumper, Fred Knight

summit
On Saturday, we had a fun outing, without the usual long drive to the Whites, over a loop in Pawtuckaway State Park, which is east of Manchester (and <1.5 hrs from my house!). Dave Trumper guided us on a loop walk with a few special excursions off the established trail to some nice vistas. The forest is quite open, so bushwhacking has very few bushes and no whacking. There are lots of rock climbing opportunities on the route, a couple of nice ponds---one with a large beaver dam, two peaks (South at 908' and North at 1011'), some brief uphill climbs, an easy trail, and at least one porcupine (who hurried away from us). We lunched above Boulder Trail and had a summit treat from Matt and Lea's private beer stock, which Lea was said to have carried "lady-like" so it was in good condition as shown in the final pic on North Peak. Conditions were very nice: temps in the 30s, little wind, okay traction with bare boots or microspikes, not quite enough snow but enough for wintery vistas, and easy trails throughout. We all arrived promptly, but not early, at the prescribed time off Reservation Rd at the north side of the Park. We saw few other groups and some ice fishers. See all the pics here. (no dualing Nikons (Matt’s D8000 vs Dave’s D800), only Fred’s Sony NEX-6)

Summary: ~7 miles, 5:15 including long lunch and afternoon treat,