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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Cannon, December 31, 2009, winter 4K #7

Kinsman Ridge Trail, 4.4 miles roundtrip.

A few days ago, Alex turned seven. She had the traditional kid party with her friends in Massachusetts, but she also wanted to mark the event on top of our family's favorite mountain: Cannon. I put the word out, hoping a few people would be able to swing by and help us eat whoopie pies.

Alex and I were excited to embark on our first winter hike of this season. She and I both favor winter hiking over three-season hiking, especially when the trail is firmly packed down. [As she grows, I'll take her on hikes where we both have to break a good portion of the trail ourselves...but right now, that's too much for her to handle.]

We ascended slowly but steadily. Eventually, we seemed about level with the top of Sage's favorite peak, Bald Mountain (the peak in the center of the photograph).

Onward we climbed, enjoying the lovely view through the leafless trees.

What this trail lacks in distance, it makes up for in grade. The Kinsman Ridge Trail is a relentlessly steep climb with precious few flat bits during its first 1.5 miles. We both needed to stop frequently to rest and eat.

We were about halfway up the mountain when a friendly and familiar duo caught up with us -- Ed n' Lauky! Lauky was adorable and obviously thrilled to be out there. Alex and I were happy to have their company.

The trail finally flattened out. It was nice to be finished with the most difficult part of the hike! We moved forward into a peaceful winter wonderland.

Just before reaching the exposed, final two tenths of a mile, Bill and Sheep arrived. Sheep also looked happy to be out and about -- the two dogs together were the epitome of Joy, they were so obviously glad to be tromping about in the snow.

We layered up and stepped out into -- the wind! My goodness, what a difference the lack of trees make! The cold air hit us hard, but it didn't seem to bother Alex much. We've been in this type of arctic blast before, and, since she was well dressed and warm, she wasn't fazed in the slightest. Since we only had a very short distance to hike, I wasn't concerned either -- that being said, this kind of distance is my limit when it comes to taking her above treeline in windy, frigid conditions.

It took us perhaps fifteen minutes to get through the exposed section, and then we were back in the protection of the trees, very close to the summit. Alex scampered along and joyously climbed the tower. Here she is with Ed.

Snow was heading toward us...visibility was less than perfect.

Before going into the summit building, Alex sat on the official high point (a large rock directly underneath the tower).

Ed n' Lauky followed suit (Lauky was distracted by Sheep)...

We had to bid the dogs and their owners goodbye before entering the summit building, since animals aren't allowed inside. Thanks, Ed and Bill, for your company. It was great to see you both!

Bob, Geri and LawnSale were right behind us. They accompanied us inside, then Alex passed out the whoopie pies. Hugh and Sage were already there, having arrived earlier by tram.

Bob played with the kids for a while...

...then MadRiver and his friend Mynetta arrived. This was Mynetta's first winter 4K -- congrats to her!

I took many more pictures inside the summit building, but I'm afraid they didn't turn out. My camera kept fogging up, then I had water on it from my dripping gloves...arg.

I met MtnPa and a few other folks in the summit building as well. It's always good to chat with other hikers and put a few trailnames with faces.

After we were all properly infused with a ton of sugar, Alex and I bid our farewells to Hugh and Sage and thanked the others for their presence and well-wishes. Geri descended with us past the exposed portion of the trail, then she stopped to wait for MadRiver and Mynetta. Alex and I continued onward, Alex point-blank running and glissading her way down the mountain, and me rushing to keep up with her.

We had the pleasure of crossing paths with Paradox, Ishmael, and a friendly black dog during our gleeful descent. Good to see you folks!

As Alex's energy was extremely high and her spirits were soaring, we reached the bottom in a very short amount of time.

'Twas another great day in the woods! Happy winter hiking, everyone!

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