North Kinsman (4293')
South Kinsman (4358')

2003 October 04

After the hike, I was laying on the floor of my living room letting my spine stretch, crack, and snap back into place while I thought about how to describe this day. Earlier, I had suggested "herendous" may be an adequate and accurate depiction. It is one of only four words in the English language that end in "dous" and we were probably the only four hikers plodding down from the mountain in the dark. The tenuous, and rather silly, connection between our hike and my choice of adjectives will have to suffice. Certainly, the conditions could have been less pleasant, but had they been, we may have simply ended our trek prematurely. As it was, the idea of turning around was mentioned more than once. Alas, we braved the rain . . . and the cold . . . and the wind . . . and the icy trails . . . and the soggy clothing . . . and the dark. Yes, we climbed to a new standard of day-hike discontent last Saturday, but at least we all laughed about our misadventure over dinner that night.

Way joined Elleing, Ash, and I for our trip up the Kinsmans. His choice of days to join us could have been better. We have hiked in the rain and in the cold and in the wind and on icy trails, but this was the first time we covered all of the above in one shot. The entire hike is wooded, so the wind wasn't much of an issue. The icy trails were limited to some snow that had fallen on timber puncheons the night before, so that wasn't very hazardous either unless you weren't careful. No, it was really just the combination of rain and cold the dampened and chilled our spirits. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the day for what it was.

We started up the Lonesome Lake trail which, for the first time since we started hiking the 4's, retraced our steps in the White Mountains (from the trip up Cannon on May 31st.) I was already a bit cold. I prefer to be warm enough so that if I'm not moving I can still keep warm. That wasn't the case for any of us, so we kept moving. We had lunch at the hut, with Lonesome Lake looking more like Loch Lonesome on this hike, and debated whether we should have made other plans for the day. We decided to continue on, following the Fishing Jimmy trail to the shelter 0.7 miles from the summit of North Kinsman. This was when the elements really started to wear on us.

The rain really picked up after we left the hut. Clothing that normally stays dry in light rain started to absorb water. It was around this time that we seriously started to consider if it was worth it. The trail wasn't strenuous but we weren't mentally prepared for the conditions. Our progress was also very slow. By the time we reached the shelter, it was 2:30 and we were already 4 hours into our hike. Way decided to pass on summiting and hung out at the shelter with some other hikers for the 2 hours it would take to make the round trip. This was a much appreciated offer, so we continued to the summits of North and South Kinsman. Near the North summit, tremendous winds bent the trees over at sharp angles. (I later learned that Greenleaf Hut on the other side of the notch clocked the wind at over 60MPH.) The summits seemed farther away than they really were and more than once we considered saving it for another day and making a quick departure.

elleing_fab_hat loch_lonesome

Eventually, we made a simple decision. We had told Way we would be 2 hours. If we didn't make South Kinsman after 1 hour we decided we would turn around. Period. We were already going to be hiking in the dark as it was and we didn't want to keep Way longer than promised. We made South Kinsman in just over 59 minutes and we were very grateful for it. The thought of having to rehike North Kinsman just to bag South Kinsman was very unappealing. We made quick progress down to the shelter and arrived 5 minutes early.


We were wet, cold, and tired but at least we were going down. The rain drenched terrain slowed our return, but we made steady progress. After a brief stop at the hut, we continued. By the time we reached the other side of Lonesome Lake it was dark. Half an hour after that it was impossible to see anything with the flashlights off. I had just purchased a headlamp the week before simply because it was on sale. It proved so superior to the flashlights that I bought another one already so that Elleing and I would both have one on the trail. We saw the headlights of passing cars on I-93 long before we reached the end of our stupendous journey.

Even in the parking lot, it was so dark we were able to just turn off our lights and change clothes beside the car. Dinner at Truant's never tasted so good. And, if you're wondering what the other 3 words are that end in "dous", they're on this page.

shawn_way_rock tunnel_of_light way_walking

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