Kinsmans in the Rain

Green, rocky, and water everywhere.

Peaks
North Kinsman (4,293ft), South Kinsman (4,357ft)
Trailhead
Lafayette Campground Trail Parking
Trails
Kinsman Ridge, Fishin' Jimmy, Lonesome Lake
Total Distance
10.39 miles, 3,543ft elevation gain
Time
Start: 10:30am, 6:08 Round Trip
Weather
Wet, rainy, and warm
Trail Conditions
Wet trail with only tiny patches of monorail and some very slippery ice sections above 3,000 feet
Gear
Summer gear! (Small pack, no super warm layer, no spikes)
Partners in Crime
Cody, Doug, Rye.
Crossing the trail waterfall
Crossing the trail waterfall

The forecast called for gusty wind and rain all day, but we decided to go out anyways because it was Cody’s birthday, Doug was in town, and we had gotten the best of the forecast in the past.

The hike up to Lonesome Lake was crowded, as usual, with many groups heading down after a stay at the hut. The trail here is totally free of snow and ice and smelled wonderfully like summer, especially through Lafayette campground with folks keeping warm and dry around their campfires.

The trail around the lake to the hut had some awkward steps as a deteriorating monorail of packed snow still remains on most of the plank bridges, so it was a balance between chancing things stepping on top of a shaky snow bridge, or risk slipping off the plank bridge into the water.

Taking a break from the rain at the AMC Hut
Taking a break from the rain at the AMC Hut

By the time we got to the hut (~2 miles), the rain was really coming down. We took shelter in one of the platforms and re-adjusted our rain gear, Goretex sticking to our bare skin, before carrying onwards and upwards (and sometimes downwards, as is the case on Fishin’ Jimmy trail).

Hiking through the rain, hopping boulder to boulder to avoid a wet and muddy trail, was very introspective. I would have hated this situation in the past – wet feet, sweating under a non-breathable coat, chilly when the wind blew – but I’ve learned to appreciate being outside in the rain. It sounds and smells amazing (as long as you don’t get a whiff of yourself) and you get to experience the trail through the fog and mist, looking impossibly verdant, and literally cascading with water.

Rushing trail waterfall
Rushing trail waterfall

Fishin’ Jimmy trail, which leads from the Hut up to Kinsman Ridge trail, is two miles of the stuff the Whites are known for. There is no semblance of a traditional dirt “trail” through the trees, but instead it’s one boulder after another broken up only by boggy flats that, thankfully, have log bridges strewn through the wettest bits, and huge boulders that, also thankfully, sometimes have constructed steps or what I call “rock staples” built impressively into them. And sometimes you’re literally walking up a waterfall. If this isn’t your kind of thing, come back in the winter.

As we got closer to Kinsman Ridge, there were patches of pretty stable monorail, and some deadly slippery ice. We pretty easily avoided this and so didn’t have to use our microspikes.

Kinsman Ridge trail was more navigating around monorails and ice. We had a snack at the top of North Kinsman on the rock ledge that provides such beautiful views of Franconia on a clear day. Today, we stared thoughtfully into the clouds.

No views on North Kinsman today
No views on North Kinsman today

We tagged South Kinsman, turned around, and headed down. Looking at the data, I know this to be false, but the decent certainly felt slower than the ascent down Fishin’ Jimmy as we carefully stepped from one soaking wet boulder to the next, carefully avoiding that ice.

After the hut and sidestepping for one huge family group after the other, we made our way quickly back to the car down Lonesome Lake trail, off to pizza and beers.

Map

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