The Mission is Clear

Our goal is to hike all 48 of the 4,000 ft peaks in the White Mountains. This is the place to be for inspiring photographs of the journey along with dramatic narratives and excerpts from the field notes. You will laugh. You will cry. But above all else, you will CARE.

Coming real soon??? The breathtaking photography.

Keep reading below for the dramatic narratives.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cannon (Profile) Mountain

Cannon (Profile) Mountain - April 25th, 2009

Guest Appearances: Jen “Magic Backpack” Mason and Jeremy “Ice Man” Onysko

After our November hike, Lt Rockstomper, Big Tuna and I took the winter off to pursue our own individual adventures. All winter long however we were itching to get back out to the Whites and continue our glorious quest! When we heard that the weekend of the 25th was going to touch the 80’s, we immediately decided to try and plan a day hike for Saturday.

We decided on Cannon Mountain for a couple reasons:
1) It would give us a chance to exact revenge for missing it on our November overnight
2) It was easily accessible from the road (we had no idea what roads were still open/closed from winter, and didn’t want to run into any surprises)

We had a couple of special guests that we gathered along the way – Jen, a friend of mine from the good ol’ Ithaca College days who lived within 25 minutes or so of Cannon, and Jeremy, Lt Rockstomper’s ice-climbing friend and coworker.

The morning of the hike, I left Portland at 4:30am to pick up Big Tuna, whose car was at the shop with a bum transmission (Big Tuna could probably write an entire entry about this fiasco, so I will leave the details of his ordeal out for now). Big Tuna and I arrived to meet Lt Rockstomper and Jeremy in Portsmouth at 6:00am. Both had separately gone out the night before until the wee hours, Rockstomper didn’t even get to bed until 3:30am. So what did we do? Make Rockstomper drive of course. Needless to say, everyone was tired in some capacity. We got up to Lafayette Place Campground and met Jen in the parking lot by about 8:30am. Everyone was introduced, and we hit the trail by about 9am.

We had an inkling of how much snow would be up there (and I say inkling because as it turned out, the actual amount of snow on the trail dwarfed any previous notions we had). So we had planned on bringing some foot traction – well, at least most of us had – and I had decided to splurge and buy a pair of gaiters finally, in case the snow was loose enough to post-hole through.

What fantastic decisions. The first half mile or so of trail was a little wet from the previous night’s rain, but aside from the occasional patch of ice it was snow free. Once we got up to Lonesome Lake (about 75 percent frozen) it was a completely different story. After some retracing of footsteps (yes we missed our intended trail) we got onto Dodge Cutoff which would meet up with the Hi-Cannon trail. This was probably the most ridiculous .3 miles of the entire trip. I put on my gaiters and led the way, and all 5 of us plopped into the 4-foot deep snow COUNTLESS times (luckily there was a stream running underneath the snow to stop us. Wait…). It’s a little hard to describe what it was like having one leg fall through the snow up to your knees or waist… especially once every 25 feet or so (more often for others!). But each time undoubtedly involved laughter; everyone really took it in stride.

After an agonizingly slow start, we made it onto and up Hi-Cannon. The snow was better packed further up, and we finally reached the summit of Cannon by about 1pm. We stopped for lunch at Profile Clearing, which had unbelievable views over to Franconia Ridge (Mt Lincoln, Lafayette, etc). Temps were hovering in the 80’s and there was a warm breeze – probably as nice a day as any of us could have imagined. We ate some of Magic Backpack’s massive supply of trail mix (“Magic Backpack” comes from the realization that she packed EVERYTHING in her pack. You name it, she had it; which unfortunately also led to her post-holing the most out of any of us), and soaked in some sun.

One new tradition conceived on this trip was to toast a different beer on each of our 48 peaks. Some of you might remember we toasted bud-diesels at the top of the Kinsmans. Well the brew on tap this day was Old Milwaukee’s Best Tallboys. We cooled them down in some nearby snow and toasted about 20 minutes after arriving at the summit. Let me just say, they were delicious.

After exploring the Cannon Tower and taking some photos at the top, we made our way back to the trail junction and headed down the Kinsman Ridge Trail, where we aimed at summiting the NE Cannonball (NE Hundred Highest #100) before heading back down to the parking lot.

One thing we did not account for was the effect of the melt throughout the day on the trail. By the time we descended the Kinsman Ridge Trail, portions of it (and as it turned out, the STEEPEST portions) had turned to pure, slick ice. This brings me back to traction… Magic Backpack, Big Tuna and I all had Yak Trax Walkers (not much traction, but believe me it helped) and Lt Rockstomper and Ice Man (avid ice climber) had nothing. Well the Ice Man reveled in this new discovery. While the rest of us slowly made our way down the trail, he proceeded to whip around the trail, seemingly more comfortable in the dangerous icy conditions than the snowpack. We endured a couple lengthy sections before the trail evened out, and in no time we were on our way to NE Cannonball.

We hit the summit of NE Cannonball some time around 4pm, stayed long enough to take a picture or two, and headed back down the Kinsman Ridge and Lonesome Lake trail to the Campground parking lot by about 5pm.

What a day!

-Hard to Handle

Check out an album of the trip below:

Cannon Mountain

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