We assumed that this 6.5 mile hike would be reasonably easy as it was only a 4,100' summit. Mistake #2.
The listed elevation gain was only 2,350' which is less than we have been doing of late. Piece o' cake. Mistake #3.
Being tired from yesterday's hike, and again thinking this hike would not be too difficult, we had a leisurely morning and did not start out from the trailhead until 9:30 AM. Mistake #4.
When planning any hike I typically read the AMC White Mountain Guide Online, trail descriptions on several sites (a dozen or so sites I have saved as favorites) and I Google for blogs like this one to read the experiences of others. Didn't do that for this hike. Mistake #5.
It was hazy, hot and humid today. The man above made mistake #6.
Okay - let's move on to the hike itself.
We started our hike from the Lafayette campground in Franconia Notch. From here we would cut thru the campground to access the Lonesome Lake Trail. This is a short but reasonably challenging climb to, of all things, a lake nestled on a plateau to the South side of Cannon Mountain. "Lonesome Lake" seems like an appropriate name. The AMC's Lonesome Lake hut is on the backside of the lake but we were not going in that direction (though we have been there before).
An intricate system of logs and planks encircle almost the entire 1.0 mile circumference of the lake. These walkways help to protect the wetlands from the foot traffic and they also serve to keep everyone on this single path.
We skirted one side of the lake and headed to the junction of the Kinsman Ridge Trail. This portion of the hike was a mix of challenging and normal. That mix was soon to end.
The Kinsman Ridge Trail from this point to the junction of the Hi-Cannon Trail is one of the most challenging I have ever climbed. It was relentless. It was steep. It was hot. It was slippery. It was difficult. Did I mention it was tough?
Oddly enough, if you research this trail you will find extremely varied opinions from those who say it is challenging to those who say it was just fine. Let this 57-yr old, asthmatic, 245 lb. hiker give you his opinion (note how I made sure to take credit for that 5 lbs. below the magic 250 mark).
WOW! It was tough. The worst I have ever climbed. My wife Sue, who is vastly more fit than I am, said to me; "When you post your blog, feel free to mention that I said I will never, ever do this hike again." And that was before we took the Hi-Cannon Trail down which is also very challenging (to say the least).
The views at the summit were stunning but all the people who were riding the tramway to the summit certainly detracted from all the beauty and peacefulness one typically experiences on a mountain summit. They were pleasant people. I am simply accustomed to enjoying serenity on a mountain top.
It was also nice to have the observation tower at the summit. That made the views even more spectacular and unimpeded. Several of the pics below are from the top of that tower.
On the way down, using the Hi-Cannon Trail, there were two noteworthy items. The first was the cliff overlooking Lonesome Lake. There is a photo below of this view but rest assured that it doesn't do the actual view any justice at all. The second item is the ladder needed to climb down one section. This mountain hiker is afraid of heights (odd hey?). I can tell you that I sweated about a quart while approaching and getting down this ladder.
When we climb the Whites the second time around in another year or two, this hike will not be on our to-do list. But, I will still admit to having enjoyed myself on this 7.5 hour endeavor.
A mere 40 minutes into our hike I am sweating bullets and checking my GPS to see how much further we have to go. :-)
We are walking on the 'boardwalk' around Lonesome Lake. Someone put a TON of work into this walkway.
Lonesome Lake in the distance.
A rather odd tree. Did the Indians do this?
Part of the climb from Lonesome Lake to the Kinsman Trail
One mile to go to reach Cannon Mountain. This last mile would feel as though someone had misplaced the decimal point in this sign. It was TOUGH!
Yes, this is what much of this 1-mile segment looked like. Trust me, the picture does not do it justice.
This tough section continues. Look very closely over Sue's shoulder (to the right) and you will see someone just coming out from behind the tree. This provides some perspective of how steep this trail is...
Finally, we reach the summit.
On the left hand edge of this shot is Mount Lincoln. We climbed Lincoln last week as a part of the Lincoln-Lafayette loop.
Looking across Franconia Notch to Mt Lafayette.
Route 93 through the notch.
The tram arriving at the summit. This would have been a vastly easier way to get here! The next time I will pay the $30 (or whatever).
The next two shots are of an interesting wall of stone we passed on the way down on the Hi-Cannon Trail.
Much of the Hi-Cannon Trail does not seem to get a lot of use as it is very overgrown. Sue is only 20' in front of me and you can hardly see her. I wonder why this trail is so overgrown? Hmm...
A view from a cliff overlooking Lonesome Lake. If you look very closely on the lower RH side of the lake you will see a portion of the boardwalk we were on earlier.
Do I look happy? Could I parachute down from here honey?
We arrive at the ladder section of the Hi-Cannon Trail. This was NOT fun for either of us. Especially the one of us who is afraid of heights - ME!
I found this tree to be amazing. It clearly had toppled only part way over and the root system was able to seek its way back to the soil for moisture. Is there intelligence in wood?