Kinsman Overnight on 9-10 Jan 2010

9-10 Jan 2010
Overnight at Kinsman Pond Lean-to, White Mountains

Lea Johnson, Matt Hansen, Chuck Wynn (chef), Fred Knight, and Ravi Chahil

Overview

Here are the two possible routes to the Kinsman Pond Hut; we took the Alternate to avoid stream crossings. After the drive up, we left Lafayette Campground with blustery conditions, which soon abated in the forest. Look at this movie (38MB so wait while it loads) taken at our approach to Lonesome Lake. The day was fairly bright and cool; the night was cold. We stayed in the Kinsman Pond Hut, which was a little warmer than the outside temperature that reached -10 deg F, according to the NWS. The walk up took a little under 4 hours, so we had time to keep warm by gathering fire wood and building a snow wall at the hut door to keep some warmth inside. Dinner was shrimp with seasoned rice done royally by Chuck. Lea, Matt, and Ravi took early bedtimes after the anticipated fire would not stay light due to the melting snow. Chuck and Fred took another try at the fire, and Chuck cooked the venison. After a cold night in warm sleeping bags, we packed up and returned in two hours retracing our trail. The night was a indeed cold, but everybody did pretty well in their bags.
KinsmanLocale

West side of Franconia Notch

Details

The trail was well packed except for the final 0.1 miles to the Hut. There was little post holing, only if you stepped off the trail (or were pushed!). We all wore bare boots up, but I wore my Microspikes coming down. Coming down involved some useful sliding at the steep sections of the Fishin' Jimmy Trail.

Chuck was the chef with a wonderful menu. In the evening, the shrimp and flavored rice cooked in his new frying pan was to be followed by venison steaks, broiled over the open fire. Unfortunately the open fire wasn't up to the task as it fizzled even with help from the experienced fire makers. After Lea, Matt, and Ravi retired to their bags, Chuck cooked some venison to perfection with the MSR WhisperLite stove. We ate it with bare teeth, tearing off morsels of marinated game seared to perfection. A slight leak in the WhisperLite got worse overnight, so it failed to light in the morning. Luckily Matt had his Pocket Rocket to cook the huevos rancheros. The frozen brick of EggBeaters needed to be ripped from its container, then thawed, combined with the similarly-frozen cheese and salsa, and then cooked. The cold almost overcame the small stove, but we did get the huevos (pero nada rancheros) before we left to return home. Chuck's efforts were notable. Thank you, Chuck.

My double sleeping bag kept me warm---what a treat. I used my Frostline kit bag inside Ceil and Jay's two-person bag. Lea and Matt slept on the hut floor; Matt had his new Marmot cold-weather bag. Chuck indicated a slight lack of warmth. All three of the older campers reported snoring from the others, but disbelief by the others accompanied each statement. Lea and Matt did not take sides in this debate.

It was cold. NWS weather map showed similar -10-deg-F temperatures on Mt Washington and the Kinsman Ridge, where we were. Lea, using her well-calibrated temperature sensing based on her teenage years in Minnesota, would not agree with lower estimates. 10 deg below zero is cold enough. Keeping feet and fingers warm is a must.

Based on the comparison of equipment, I now want down booties (no decent ones at REI), down mittens (hard to find good ones I think), a compression sack (numerous options), a headlamp, and a Leatherman mini.
Lafayette Campground at start of hike
Lafayette Campground at start of hike
We started about 9:30 with a brisk wind from the parking lot and headed for Lonesome Lake.
Chuck, Ravi, Lea, and Matt
Chuck, Ravi, Lea, and Matt
Chuck is the chef. Ravi traveled from NJ and agreed to the trip with 4 engineers. Well, he knows Chuck well from college. Lea grew up in Egan, MN. She and Matt attended Upper Michigan Tech. All are experienced campers and avid gear hounds.
Lea and Matt heading up the Lonesome Lake Trail
Lea and Matt heading up the Lonesome Lake Trail
The Franconia Valley was bathed in white frost and snow, utterly gorgeous. The trail was well packed; no need for snowshoes.
First switchback on LOnesome Lake Trail
First switchback on LOnesome Lake Trail
Chuck waving with Ravi, early in the 3.6-mile hike to the hut.
Matt the snowman
Matt the snowman
Matt bounded off the trail into the 24"-deep snow
Trees laden with snow
Trees laden with snow
We hiked entirely through snow-covered trees all the way to the hut, ~2000' up, next to Knisman Pond, and under the North Kinsman Peak, which is a popular destination for day hikers.
Blue sky peaking throught the trees
Blue sky peaking throught the trees
The day was cold and partly cloudy.
Ready to cross Lonesome Lake
Ready to cross Lonesome Lake
One-third of the way up and heading onto windblown Lonesome Lake, across which the Lonesome Lake Hut welcomes visitors.
The Fishin' Jimmy Trail winds through forest
The Fishin' Jimmy Trail winds through forest
With the trail well packed, bare boots provided sufficient traction going up.
Fishin' Jimmy Trail
Fishin' Jimmy Trail
2 feet snow off the trail---one misstep and you are in it. Matt tried a little nudge of Lea into the powder off the trail, and Lea returned the favor placing Matt in a small gulley, which required him to remove his pack to get out. Reasonable payback here.
Wow!
Wow!
The snow canopy on the trees contrasted the blue sky.
More hiking
More hiking
Fishin' Jimmy Trail gets pretty steep in parts.
More hints og blue sky through the trees
More hints of blue sky through the trees
The sun came out intermittently.
Chuck posing at the Kinsman Pond Hut
Chuck posing at the Kinsman Pond Hut
Just after arrival, with the temperature dropping, we decided to build a snow wall in the hut opening.
Lower bunk accommodations on the hut floor
Lower bunk accommodations on the hut floor
Notice the gorgeous new Marmot two-tone-orange bag---its maiden voyage.
Chuck "The Chef Ox" Wynn
Chuck "The Chef Ox" Wynn
Chuck carried all the food and cookery. The evening was Old-Bay flavored rice with shrimp. The morning consisted of egg beaters, chees, and salsa---all of which started in the frozen state.
Ravi ready to exit his bag in the morning.
Ravi ready to exit his bag in the morning.
We slept fine. My two-nested-bags did the trick, keeping me warm in the -10-deg-F night.
Ace snow-wall builders showing off their creation
Ace snow-wall builders showing off their creation
In addition to the snow wall, we hung tarps to cover the opening.
Morning and ready to head back down
Morning and ready to head back down
Lea and Matt, after weathering the cold night, are still smiling.
Lea, Matt, and Chuck with Hut
Lea, Matt, and Chuck with Hut
The morning warmed very slowly; it was a cold night.
Toward Kinsman peak from the Hut
Toward Kinsman peak from the Hut
South Kinsman peak overlooks Kinsman Pond and the Hut.