north and south kinsman hike: mountains make me happy

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My favorite time of year to hike is right now, November, when the trails aren’t crowded and there is a stillness in the air.  There is just something about November solitude in the White Mountains of New Hampshire that makes you feel alive.

On Saturday we hiked for the second time in two weeks! Since I’m still in my off-season, I’ve been taking advantage of not having a training plan and getting to the mountains as much as possible. Hiking is BY FAR my favorite off season activity. Hiking during the season can be difficult because of all of the biking on the weekends and also, it can lead to overuse of quads (which I have already).  Then again, there are also benefits to hiking during the triathlon season (variety, anaerobic work) and I might actually try and do more of it next summer while training for IMMT!

Over the weekend, we decided to hike North and South Kinsman Mountain.  Todd and I hiked North Kinsman years ago, but never combined it with South Kinsman i.e. peak bagged. South Kinsman marks our 35th (out of 48 total) 4,000 footer!

North Kinsman Mountain circa October 4 years ago


Several mountains in the Whites are close enough to one another that you can ‘peak bag‘ them, meaning tackle multiple peaks in one day.  North Kinsman is about 0.9 miles from South Kinsman, so we decided to add it onto our hike, keeping in mind that it would add almost two miles to the day. Sometimes the mountains aren’t that close to one another, and we still peak bag them… for example, we have hiked mountains that are three miles apart from one another. We often don’t make our peak bagging decision until we reach the first summit, where we reassess how we are feeling and what the weather conditions are like.

This time around, we took a different trail, the Mt Kinsman Trail to the summit of North Kinsman, then over the Kinsman Ridge trail to the summit of South Kinsman. We had a 9:30 start time with our friend Steve and his dog Aspen.  It was a COLD morning with temps in the mid 20’s to start.

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The Mt Kinsman trail was beau-ti-ful and covered in snow.  Not only was it beautiful but it was quite challenging.  Not super steep, but literally a steady climb for about 3 straight hours.  The good thing is, even when it’s very cold outside, as long as you have layers on and are moving at a good clip, you don’t get cold at all… it’s when you stop moving that things get cold!

Oliver did really well the entire day, the little champion that he is:) The snow wasn’t deep enough to warrant him wearing actual booties, but we did put protective wax on his paws… it makes a big difference for him! We love Mushers Secret for Mr Oliver’s lil’ paws.

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For about 4 miles we climbed, until we reached the North Kinsman Summit.  The funny thing is, we didn’t realize it was the summit and just kept walking towards South Kinsman.  We completely missed the lookout on the way up, but got it on the way back down! Oops:)

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The walk along Kinsman Ridge between the two summits was gorgeous.  The sky was blue and the sun felt warm on our skin.  Luckily we had sun, because otherwise it would have been realllly cold. From the Kinsman Ridge trail, you could see view of Franconia Ridge in the distance.

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Once we reached the South Kinsman summit, we had 360 degree views all around us.  South Kinsman (4,358 feet) is slightly higher than North Kinsman (4,293 feet). We also had the summit all to ourselves, which was awesome.  Although temps were in the teens, the sun was out and we were able to eat our PB & J sandwiches while taking a break.

Fun on the South Kinsman Summit:

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If you are wondering what we have on our feet, they are Micro Spikes and they are life changing! They slip easily over your hiking boots and allow you to hike in icy/snowy conditions, while giving you tons of traction. No slipping and sliding with these babies on. We use these in early winter, and will then transition to snow shoes and cramp-ons (more serious spikes) in mid-late winter.

We are also wearing blaze orange hat because it’s peak gun hunting season in New Hampshire… better to be safe!

Potential Christmas card here? 😉

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I was so excited, I couldn’t resist making a snow angel:

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We didn’t stay up there for too long, since it was quite chilly to say the least…

Soon we were on our way back down, back over Kinsman Ridge and towards North Kinsman.  Of course we couldn’t go back down without stopping at the amazing look out point on North Kinsman.  Just wow! Mountains look so much cooler with snow:)

North Kinsman Summit

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After taking some pictures and enjoying the view, it was time to head down the Mt Kinsman Trail…

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Going back down is always the hard part… it just always seems to take MUCH longer than going up…

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With 9 miles down and 1 mile to go, we decided to each have a hard apple cider… best idea ever! I have never had an alcoholic drink on a mountain before, and honestly, it was a game changer! It helped all of us get through that last mile. A nice way to celebrate the end of a long hike. I love this Downeast Cranberry Apple Cider!

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And eventually we made it back to the car… 6 hours and 10 miles later…

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No day hike is complete without a stop at our FAVORITE sandwich shop on the way home… Biedermans Deli in Plymouth, NH.

Post hike food coma, well deserved.

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  • Reply Kecia November 18, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    AWESOME hiking!! I’m so jealous of the scenery and adventures so close to home. We have a 12 hour drive to even see the mountains 🙁 I love the “potential Christmas card” photo and think you should use it!! Such a fun off season 🙂

    • Reply Kristin November 21, 2014 at 2:51 pm

      Thanks Kecia! I didn’t realize you were SO far away from mountains! But at least you have great roads for biking where you live:)

  • Reply Jamie @ Wandering Portlander November 19, 2014 at 1:10 am

    Awesome hiking! That Oliver is a real trooper and looks super cute in that little jacket.

    • Reply Kristin November 21, 2014 at 2:51 pm

      Thanks Jamie! We like to think he really enjoys it!!

  • Reply Lee@tri*inspired*life November 19, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Stunning photos Kristin and really looks like a great time!!

  • Reply Carly @The Next Finish Line November 19, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Great post, loved the pictures! So happy I stumbled on your blog. I want to do some more hiking, especially in the Whites, and picking peaks that are do-able (I’m experienced, but no expert) in the ice/snow can be intimidating. This was great!

    • Reply Kristin November 21, 2014 at 2:50 pm

      Thank you Carly, you are so sweet! Feel free to ask me any questions about hiking (especially winter hiking). The key thing is being prepared for any type of weather conditions!

  • Reply Abby November 19, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    Such gorgeous photos! There’s something so majestic about snowy mountains, especially with a crisp blue sky!
    I definitely say that’s a great Christmas card photo!
    Love that Oliver is such a little hiker, too! And thanks so much for the link to the wax. Harold refuses booties, so I’m sure this would be a huge help in the snow!

    • Reply Kristin November 21, 2014 at 2:50 pm

      Thanks Abby! Now I just have to decide on the christmas card design:) Definitely try the wax with Harold.. no more cracked, dry paws!

  • Reply erin December 8, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    Christmas card worthy photos indeed! Love seeing all your hiking adventures… it’s so beautiful in NH! What I wouldn’t give to be a little closer to mountains and the ocean 🙂 That cranberry apple cider sounds delish, too!

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