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Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Fiftieth and a First -- Cannon Mountain, Oct. 17, 2009

Lonesome Lake, Cascade Brook, Around-Lonesome-Lake and Kinsman Ridge Trails, 7.2 miles roundtrip.

Alex and I awoke Saturday morning unsure of which mountain to hike. We decided on Cannon, thinking perhaps Sage and Hugh would ride the tram up and meet us for lunch at the summit building. We scrawled a note for the two sleepyheads, propped it up between two bananas on the kitchen counter, and headed north.

We could see the snow glistening off the peaks of Lincoln and Lafayette as we approached Franconia Notch. Alex gasped with delight and asked if we could do those two mountains instead of Cannon. It was tempting! I knew today's wind speeds would be minimal, and the sun was so bright! However, just as I started to pull into the Old Bridle Path parking area, Hugh sent a text message informing me that he and Sage were looking forward to our lunchtime rendezvous. Cannon it was.

It was a fine, crisp, clear autumn day as we started up Lonesome Lake Trail.

We moved quickly, Alex setting an adult pace and happily chattering every step of the way.

Snow appeared about a mile up the path. It was a welcome sight. Alex frequently commented on how beautiful everything looked.

Before we knew it, we were at the Cascade Brook Trail.

The walk from here to Lonesome Lake's western shore is flat, straightforward, and quick. We arrived at the water's edge in ten minutes.

In addition to the beautiful views, we found a mother and son hanging out, throwing various rocks and wood chips onto the thin layer of ice now covering the water. The boy, we discovered, was almost 9 years old. His name was Raymond, and he was on vacation with his mother, Juliet. Alex spent a few minutes tossing things onto the slightly frozen lake with Raymond, while Juliet and I made our introductions. She had been considering taking Raymond up Cannon, so, since the four of us were hitting it off so well, we decided to ascend together.

Around-Lonesome-Lake Trail was flat and scenic, just as it was a few weeks ago when I walked it with Sage.

A few tenths of a mile later, we turned left and resumed hiking on Lonesome Lake Trail. The grade was easy...for about three seconds. Then, the pitch steepened significantly.

As we climbed, the season seemed to change from autumn to winter.

Our ascent was made easy by wonderful conversation. Alex and Raymond happily chatted with each other, trading jokes and sharing laughs. Those two were a good match, and I had a fine time speaking with Juliet.

Alex and Raymond celebrated our arrival at Kinsman Ridge Trail by eating icicles.

It truly was a Winter Wonderland.

Walking along the ridge, just before we reached the summit, I asked Raymond if he had ever hiked up an entire mountain before. He answered in the negative. Alex and I enthusiastically congratulated him and explained that he was about to reach the peak of his first 4K.

Soon afterward, we arrived.

Congratulations, Raymond -- your first 4K!

And for Alex, congrats on number 50!

Ceremonial kid pictures taken care of, we relaxed, looked around, and -- my oh my. Clear skies, views galore, and no wind whatsoever.

Juliet and Raymond were properly amazed with the views, and rightfully proud of themselves for making it all the way up. We hung out for an hour or so, then went inside the summit building to wait for Hugh and Sage.

While we waited, Juliet made an interesting discovery. Alex had offered her the green M&Ms from her trail mix, saying, "I don't like this color." I've heard this kind of statement from Alex before, but I never really thought she could taste the difference between, say, brown M&Ms and blue ones.

Well, I was wrong! Juliet asked Alex to close her eyes, then she fed her one M&M after another. Alex guessed every single color correctly -- brown, blue, red, orange, yellow and green. When asked how she could tell which color she was tasting, Alex explained that each food dye combination interacts specifically with the chocolate, giving each color M&M a distinct taste.

Soon after Alex ate her weight in candy, Hugh and Sage arrived. The six of us relaxed and conversed for a while, then Juliet, Raymond, Alex and I began the hike down.

Alex and I wore our microspikes, not wanting to take a nasty tumble down the slick, steep path. Neither Raymond nor Juliet had traction, but they both moved slowly and carefully. Everyone made it down without incident.

Once back at Lonesome Lake, Raymond and Alex resumed throwing things into the water.

Soon it was time to say goodbye to our new friends. We once again congratulated Raymond (and Juliet!), exchanged contact information, and then went on our way.

The season changed back into autumn as we neared the trailhead.

What a lovely time we had! It was so nice running into Juliet and her son, Raymond. We had so much fun hiking with them.

Alex and I won't be able to hike again until November. So until then, happy trails, everyone!

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