Cannon Mountain: November

With the winter fast approaching I’ve been more or less hell-bent on getting in as much hiking and other physical activity as possible.  With that in mind a short, steep, late fall hike with some superfluous gear in my pack seemed like just the ticket to get me warmed up for winter.  This time I went with Mike, a veteran 4 season hiker and old friend.  We met at the Lafayette Place Campground ( a primitive tent site) at 10 AM.  We were on the trail just a few minutes later.

View Cannon in a larger map

Pretty serious business…  Photo credit: Mike.

I’ve hiked Cannon several times in the past, but it’s unique terrain, steep ascent and variety of routes up and down make worth the repeat visits, especially as the seasons change.  Despite the forecast of ‘partly cloudy’ it as entirely cloudy in Franconia Notch.  At face value this is disappointing, but I’ve found that such weather, while nixing the view, really puts an emphasis on the remote, forbidding and exciting nature of the mountains.  Also, at this time of year it can create rime ice over nearly every surface – really cool looking.

The trail leads right out of the parking lot and ascends steeply up the southeastern flank of Cannon Mountain.  It’s a short distance as the crow flies, but it’s steep enough to mandate switchbacks and can be slow going.  As we gain elevation the air cools and the foliage becomes more and more encrusted in ice.

View Cannon in a larger map

The way to
Lonesome Lake.

Eventually we begin to find that even the well traveled trail is holding onto a dusting of snow.  With the rain and fog experienced earlier during the week I thought that any snow would have since melted, but the temps were hovering around freezing and the beginnings of solid snow pack were forming on the top of the mountain!

The Rim Trail.  Photo credit: Mike

By the time we summit, the everything around us is coated in a layer of rime ice or snow.  We use our crampons for extra traction, although micro-spikes would have been the most appropriate tool for the conditions – without deep snow or ice, the teeth are slightly too aggressive for comfort.

Enjoying the weather on the
observation deck.

Along the way down we encounter a couple working their way through New Hampshire’s 4000 Footers and they join us for the hike down.  To our surprise, the south and west aspects of the mountains actually hold quite a bit of snow and the crampons turn out to be really helpful.  As we descend the cloud cover breaks from time to giving us great glimpses of Franconia Ridge to the east and Cannon Mountain to the north.

Lonesome Lake with a glimpse of the ridge!

We pass Lonesome Lake under sunny snow-showers and watch snow eddies blow across the most frozen lake.    After a brief rest in the Lonesome Lake Shelter we cruise down the remaining 1.5 miles back to the cars.  It’s a relative short hike, but the constantly changing conditions make it rewarding.

Gear List (click links for more product info):

Black Diamond Sabretooth Clip CramponsKahtoola MICROspikes Traction SystemBlack Diamond Raven Ice Axe Gray, 55cmBlack Diamond Axe Protector Bd Orange, One SizeBlack Diamond Spike ProtectorBlack Diamond Guide Glove - Men's Natural, LPetzl Cordex Belay/Rappel Glove Tan, LBlack Diamond Trail Trekking Pole Cinnamon, One SizeFree Shipping on Orders over $50

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