In planning out the rest of the fall and my winter, I placed the Kinsman’s on November. These two peaks were to kick off my November count and I’d get the red line for the Mt. Kinsman trail too. This set of peaks is not a favorite by any means so, I was feeling as though I was going through the motions in my week between hikes. The winds of change seemed to be picking up though and by the time Friday came around, I was excited to hit the trail with good friends and good news. I was excited because I had the chance to reverse my course that I was set on when I was sucked down to the left on that trail to disaster a little over a year ago. Silverfox, Val, and myself along with Isis, met at the Burger King in Ashland for a carpool to the trailhead. It had been a while since I joined Silverfox for a hike so, the company was welcome. The addition of Val would be equally nice. The more the merrier on the trails.
Isis got herself loved from everyone and we headed off down the Mt. Kinsman trail. Quite the difference from last weekend’s snow covered trails and still a little cool out. The trail itself was well maintained and as we walked, Isis and I watched our surroundings. The trail was wider than the usual trail and easy to navigate past a sugar house. Silverfox did a great job as usual of pointing out different sights of interest. We skimmed over the water crossings and were on target to make good time to the summits. We made one stop over at Bald Mountain for a possible under cast which we missed. The view however was still beautiful. The trail eventually became less wide and more trail like and also added the elevation gain (Mt. Kinsman trail has an additional thousand feet of gain). We all laughed about our “love” of the Fishin’ Jimmy trail (we call it the F’in’ Jimmy trail for a reason), so the additional gain was not an issue. Isis and I made a point of not stopping as we climbed. This had been our downfall to time the last few hikes so, I was determined to push through and not stop until the group stopped. We did just fine with Isis fairing a little better than I did. Having just gotten over a head cold, my lungs were a little tired. Mt. Kinsman trail was a great combination of dirt, water crossings, rocks, and roots. There were a lot of blow downs that we noted for cleanup and trail maintenance.
We joined the Kinsman Ridge trail which I had been on so many times before. The trail maintainer was on it today and we complimented his work. The trail was in great shape and easy to navigate to the summit of North Kinsman. I will say that since I was on the Mt. Kinsman trail for the first time, I felt a little turned around approaching for the other side. We took a break for water and a snack on North Kinsman. Isis climbed up the true high point and claimed her number twenty three. She was as always blissfully unaware of what she was doing and I was ever conscious of her mood and how she was handling the journey. She had become a great hiking partner but, one that would follow me until she could not without so much as a bark of disapproval. It was up to me to pay attention to her.
Heading over the South Kinsman, we laughed and shared stories about hiking. This part of the ridge never seemed to be too bad and today, it seemed that I was on auto pilot. Typical, there was a lot on my mind and I craved a thought free hike. Thankfully I had Val and Silverfox to distract from time to time. There were lots of changes on the horizon and lot s of peaks coming up through the winter. We made our final approach to South Kinsman in the sun and warmth. This was a great summit for one that was not really a favorite and as we approached the cairn, I noted the changes in it. From the pile of rocks it once was, it is now a well formed cairn with a seat in it. Isis climbed up and we all snapped pictures of her on her half way point summit. Just twenty four peaks left for her multi season 48. We had been joking about her grid all day too. The four of us took a nice break on the summit and ate as well as talked. We looked at the surrounding peaks and I listened and watched as they were pointed out to me. I always have trouble remembering little facts although I was determined to learn the peaks by sight.
We soon made our way back the way we came over the ridge trail and made a stop back at North Kinsman to check out the view. Val got some good Isis love as we sat and chatted. Silverfox checked out the lower ledge. Soon, we were on our way again and heading back down the Mt. Kinsman trail. It was slower going due to footings and trail maintenance. We made a few other sightseeing stops along the way and checked out a serious blow down where Isis and I got our picture taken and the Flume which was off the last major water crossing on the way down. Once the trail widened again, Isis and I took point and I zoned out for a while. My mind was still and I was just enjoying being in the woods. I had enough craziness coming up over the next few weeks and I wanted to savor it as long as I could. As we approached the parking area though, the road noise was jarring and loud. We had landed back in civilization. Fist bumps were passed out for a job well done and we piled into Silverfoxes car to head back to Ashland. Tomorrow would bring a search for a cave and the following weekend would hopefully see me on my first Presi.