Last Saturday I ditched my bike workout for a hike instead! I could not have been happier with this decision, coach approved of course:) Truth be told, if I were not training for an Ironman, I would probably hike every single weekend.
We were a little weary of the conditions, since it was supposed to snow Saturday in Massachusetts, but saw that in New Hampshire conditions looked pretty calm, so we took a chance. The White Mountains (aka The Whites) are about 2.5 hours from where we live in Mass, so the conditions can vary drastically from one location to the other. Usually it’s more stormy in the mountains, but this time it was the reverse. We lucked out with temps in the 30’s, no wind, and perfectly well-packed trails. Even though it was a cloudy day, visibility was still very good. It’s always a gamble when you hike in the White Mountains (or any mountain for that matter). Of course, it’s nice when you have one of those ‘bluebird sky’ days, but sometimes the cloudiest days make for the most beautiful hikes…and the starkest contrast. This was the case with Cannon on Saturday!
We picked Cannon mountain because it’s known for it’s views, challenging trails and it’s a convenient location with lots of parking (right off the highway). Also we had never done this hike before and we are working on our 48 list. The plan was a 9:30 AM start with Todd, our friend Steve and our two pups.
Cannon is also a Ski Mountain, but where you hike is on the other side (not up the ski slope:)) I had always heard the conditions on Cannon can be very treacherous (steep trails, high winds), so we lucked out with the conditions we had on Saturday.
Here are some facts about Cannon Mountain:
Cannon used to be the home to the Old Man of the Mountain site until it collapsed on May 3, 2003. The mountain appears to be ‘layered, like an onion, due to its exfoliating granite dome formation.’
Elevation: 4,100 feet
36th Highest 4,000 footer in New Hampshire (out of 48)
There are a few different ways to hike up Cannon. We chose the Lonesome Lake Trail to the Kinsman Ridge Trail. This trail approach was 3.1 miles one way, equaling 6.2 mile round trip.
Here’s a flashback… This is a hike we did this past Summer (Mt Liberty and Mt Flume) where we could see Cannon from the Summit. The rocky mountain face behind us is Cannon:
At the start of the hike, the Lonesome Lake Trail climbs moderately, until you reach Lonesome Lake. When we got there, we were literally the only people at the lake, it was so peaceful!
It was approximately 1.2 miles from the Lafayette Campground parking lot to the lake. It actually climbs quite steadily the entire way to the lake, which I wasn’t expecting (ensue quad burning). We enjoyed a quick snack and continued on our way towards the Kinsman Ridge Trail.
The Kinsman Ridge trail continued on for 1.9 miles until reaching the Cannon Summit. Honestly, this trail did not really let up, AT ALL until we got .5 miles from the observation tower. At some points it was straight vertical and it felt like it was the steepest trail I’ve ever hiked (seriously). We wore microspikes over our hiking boots, which helped with traction. Snowshoes weren’t needed as the trail was completely packed down. We had wished we brought out more serious crampon spikes for the VERY steep and icy sections. Todd actually had to carry Oliver at some points because it was too steep for the little guy! It was almost too steep for us too, ha! When the trail is super steep like this, it’s a constant calf stretch, at least it feels that way. I’m also pretty sure I was working at a high heart rate for most of this hike, definitely anaerobic most of the time going up.
Total elevation gain over the hike (6.2 miles round trip) = 2,350 feet! That is a lot of climbing over a short period of time:)
Here are some of my favorite photos from the day… it’s more fun with a go-pro and a selfie stick! The Summit has a great look out tower, which made it extra special. Views were 360 degrees and we had a clear view of Franconia Ridge in the distance.
Snowy pup… Oliver is wearing his Ruff Wear Quinzee jacket over his Ruffwear Cloud Chaser Jacket. For his little paws, we have Pawks socks underneath, with PAWZ rubber booties on top. I’m happy to say we’ve finally found the perfect combination for keeping him a warm & happy pup!
Observation tower happiness
“I’ll look back on this and smile because it was life and I decided to live it.”
The way down was A LOT faster than the way up. Partially because we slid on our bums going down for some of the steep sections… dangerous, but fun! I don’t think I could have gone down without sliding on my a$% for part of the way. I actually slipped at one point, while trying to walk down the trail and ended up crashing down, my leg whacking against a tree. Luckily I just walked away with only some scrapes and bruises.
Winter hiking can be dangerous, and you have to be so careful (and VERY prepared). Conditions can change within an INSTANT you need to have extra clothing and supplies on hand. We keep our water in our packs this time of year so it’s doesn’t freeze.
After four hours in the woods, we reached the parking lot. What a fantastic day it was! We reached out 37th 4,000 footer (Oliver reached his 34th!).
Until we meet again White Mountains… 🙂