Lafayette, Lincoln & The Spungie Day Loop

Route:  Franconia Ridge Loop (clockwise) via the Old Bridle Path and Falling Waters

Date:  1/21/2012

Team:  Spungie, tMail, Wildman, g-$$$, Mutha
Conditions:  No snowshoes needed.  Snow depth below treeline on the packed trail was deep enough for crampons all day except bare-booting the descent.  All trails well-packed out, some drifting on the ridge.  Traction is necessary on the Lafayette ascent but Wildman and g-$$$ were in microspikes all day and never changed into their crampons.


Mutha's Trip Report:  As part of our annual 'Spungie Day' celebration we took a more-or-less standard route for this event, although in part we were motivated by a forecast of low visibility in blowing snow and fog.  Conditions turned out to be quite easy, although the flat, grey light made photography challenging.

One of the more startling facts:  the snow on top was soft, dry powder everywhere, even in drifts.  It was as if none of it had been subjected to high winds or other consolidating/transforming effects.

Wildman showed off his shoulder-mounted, water-proof video/still camera and Spungie brought an expedition pack filled with gear for a few nights (see pic above).

Unexpectedly caught up with a huge group of 20 (more or less) Koreans from Virginia.  This was their second, annual, adventure up Lafayette.  Their skill levels were mixed so they were spread out all over the mountain.  One young woman seemed to have the motivation to break some record to the summit.  Weird times ahead.

Great day, great conditions, great group.
g-$$$'s Trip Report:  Upon further reflection, discussion with Lisa and EZ-E, and the sheer realization that I descend like shit (or is it my shit descends) and I have been displaced by Dumi Sok Mi as the token Asian. I am hereby hanging up my crampons and going to embark on a new business initiative, Kitchen Remodeling...as it appears that is the only skill I have competence in at the moment.  I will be bringing my gear to the Bad Boy and auctioning off my slightly used/almost brand new stuff to anybody with cash, paypal account, and/or coffee rolls.

Thanks for your years of support, friendship, and trailside camaraderie...

With that note I thank all who participated in Spungie Day 2012.

After PM's scolding about how he didn't want to be bothered by a message while in Chicago that 6 dudes got lost in NH....and for the record it would have been ONLY 5.....we opted to stay off the Castles and hit the standard fallback, Franconia Ridge Trail....FRT is never boring in the winter.
Notable points of the day:
The two fittest guys carrying the smallest packs......
F'in Koreans only have one speed..just fast enough to slow me down and piss me off....
Spungie knows his weather...for at least a couple of hours
Two newest pieces of gear....my GPS and Wildman's GoPro camera....neither of know how to use them....
Dumi Sok Mi is one beast of a climber
Proposed nickname for K4/Brian...Northern Belle
By summertime we are all buying Harleys and will have license plates to match SPNGY and BRO
The Spungie/Wildman renenactment of famous historical proposals was deeply touching and it certainly was not the wind strewn snow crystals pelting my face that were causing me to tear up
I descend like shit, ascend like shit, and eat like shit ergo i am full of shit.
K4 or Winter Presi Traverse....it's all good!
Chicago Basin...book it.
Woodstock Inn....great eats before the Loon crowds arrive
Highlight of the trip...not spending a cent in Lincoln!
Happy Spungie Day!  Good times.
tMail's Trip Report (pics here):I believe this was the 4th Spungie Day off of which have been held on Franconia Ridge, weather usually dictates as does snow conditions.  What we thought would be a little bit of a beat down with wind and visibility turned out to be a calm day.

We did the climb in the counterclockwise conditions was the wind was coming out of the Northwest, if you can call it wind, but enough to warrant a facemask and goggles for some.  The trail conditions are in good shape there is a good base and I would imagine where there is a good base on other trails and lots of traffic the conditions are the same.  There is not a lot of snow, but what is there will pack and freeze nicely in the coming weeks.

We had a great run in with the Korean team and there desire to latch on to whoever is around to keep up and route find.  DOO MI BOO TE was hot on Spungie’s heals for the ascent to Lafayette.  She was determine to summit with our team.  Once arriving on the summit she laid down on the ground, it was impressive.

The hike along the ridge had visibility of .5 – 1 mile at times.  The snow on the ridge does not appear to be windblown as there are clear billows of low density snow in pockets which is unusual.  This matches the Avalanche forecast comments of powder like snow, that is just sitting on steep stuff waiting for a heavy load or rain to make natural avalanches occur.

Be interesting to see the video that Wildman recorded.  Picture from Mutha, Spungie and myself are pretty sweet.

Awesome day overall stuck together as a group and no child was left behind, separated on the descent off of Falling Water as the boot skiing, running was awesome.  Mutha and I waited down near the water cascades and we all hiked out together from there.

Looking forward to low key weekend next week and a big Saturday shake down at The Louie Chinese New Years Party and then BAD BOY weekend!!!!!


Cannon Mtn And North Kinsman

Date:  January 14, 2012
Route:  Cannon via Hi-Cannon, Kinsman Ridge and Cannon Balls to North Kinsman, Fishin' Jimmy to Lonesome Lake.
Team:  tMail, DogMan and me.
Conditions:  Hi Cannon and Kinsman Ridge were unbroken, but with a base of only at most a foot, travel was easy in crampons the entire day.  Temperatures never got over -5°F so the snow stayed soft and manageable.  Snowshoes were unnecessary unless it was only for traction.

DogMan's Trip Report:  Two curious couple sightings.

First the "grumpies" heading into Cannon Balls. The more I reflect on that, could not have been a good end result.

"All your losing is a little mascara!"

And then the "fashionistas". WTF was that????

Great day. I am tired and stiff. But then I have more body fat than TMail or Mutha, and not as good of equipment (although TMail does his best providing my hand me downs). But my hands still froze into useless pain generating nubs at the car. That was freaky.

Thanks guys! Missing everyone else.

tMail's Trip Report:
My trail runners worked great.
My jeans worked better.
My boots with fur sticking out have great traction.
My rope I was carrying "just for the look" was awesome.
Great day!!!
Mutha's Trip Report:  Yeah! Wish you all could have been there. It never got above -5° all day, though we were sheltered for the most part and only got hit with a cold breeze a few times.

We all had great success with clothing/gear - no changes the entire day (9am to 4pm). We stayed surprisingly uninsulated and surprisingly dry (I'm still in my hiking clothes as I type this). Given our vertical assault up Hi-Cannon to the summit and the ass-dragging over the Cannon Balls and the bitter cold wind, it was quite surprising.

Crampons all day. Perfect gear.

One quick anecdote: on arriving back at the cars at the Lafayette Place Campground Parking Lot, we started to go through the simple gestures of pulling down jackets out, removing boots, etc., and each of us, like synchronized swimmers, got hit with a massive wave of bitter cold, bone-chilling finger loss. We nearly died there in the parking lot. In under three minutes, at 2°F with a very light breeze, we all lost the use of our fingers in one of the most painful episodes I can remember.

For me, I had just removed my pack, set it on the ground, lifted the top pocket and dug in for my down jacket. In the span of time it took me to pull it out of the pack & unzip the storage pocket I nearly lost the complete use of my fingers. I had great difficulty unfurling the jacket and almost couldn't get it on me. Unbeknownst to me, DogMan and tMail were getting hit with the same thing.

I've never experienced anything like it. It reminded me of the tsunami videos where it just comes on in an unstoppable assault. It was like the gates of hell opened and released the demons and sucked us into the vortex of cold hatred to die there just outside the parking lot. It was like being doused with gas and having a match thrown on us, only with cold, not heat. It was an explosion of numbing extremity-loss.

It took a while to recover.


The Hancocks

Date:  1/8/2012
Route:  Standard route from the Kanc on the Hancock Loop Trail (North then South)
Conditions:  The fastest conditions on this trail ever.  Packed snow w/ ice underneath, some icy spots.  In microspikes we could go as fast as we were physically able, not slowed down by trail conditions.  Water crossings were easy (mostly frozen over).
Dogs:  had two experienced winter climbing dogs - plenty of water down low.  No problems for the dogs.
Specs:  9.8-ish miles, 2,650-ish feet of gain.

Mutha's Trip report:  tMail, Dogman, Trudy, Spanky and I ran the loop.  tMail disappeared, returning around 2:20 or so but credited for the waiting around he did for me and Dogman, he pulled off a sub-two-hr run.  What an animal!  Dogman, the dogs and I hit the cars at exactly 2:40.  I doubt we'll ever have conditions this fast in there.  We spent so little time out there that I didn't eat or drink anything.  Got back to the car with a full liter of water.

Afterwards, hit the Cascade Cafe in Woodstock for portabella wraps, grilled ham sandwiches, cookies and lattes.

Fastest.  Conditions.  Ever.

If you're thinking of doing this loop in the next few days, now's the time.

Pictures here.

tMail's Trip Report:  This was a fascinating trip on a couple of fronts.

The trail conditions have been ideal for these "speed" hikes.  Its a weird concept "winter hiking" with running gear.  I actually took a pack this trip that had two jackets a Patagonia Nano Puff, MH Effusion Hood Jacket, Brooks Fleece Mittens and HH Hat.

I had a 26oz of water and two gels.  The conditions are fast and with spikes you get excellent traction, thanks also to Mutha who sharpened mine.  Even on hard ice I got purchase to push off.  The day was fast all day, we pushed hard.

DogMan was cursing in the parking lot, Mutha and I poisoned him, pulling stuff out of his bag, "am I allowed to bring this?" was uttered at one point, answer was "No".  The rule in all of this is you have to keep moving there is NO stopping, but if that is what you want to do that day, then that is acceptable.

I think we all enjoyed it and fought our own discomforts all day, mine was going up Hancock, brutal and the last 1.5 miles out cramp city and the ice was hard on the feet with micro-spikes.

After all was said and done we were all laughing at the parking lot about the battle, the dogs were still barking and jumping up and down.  We didn't talk much during the day BUT we had an awesome lunch at DogMan's Cafe find that serves excellent food, link here.

We caught up on the week, talked about card games, I am learning Mah Jong, business in the Northeast Kingdom, the pros and cons, upcoming trips, 2012 presidential election.  It was actually awesome, it was casual in a way after the track meet we had on the Hancocks, something we rarely get to do.

DogMan wanted to be home before dinner, that was his request.  If we didn't go to lunch he could have been home for lunch.

Great Day, missed the rest of you guys!!!! 


Cannon And Liberty Double Header

Date:  Jan 1, 2012
Route:  Cannon via Hi-Cannon (speed hike up and down), drive to Liberty trailhead, hike Liberty Springs up and down.
Hikers:  tMail, Mutha
Conditions:  The lonesome lake trail was packed ice. Hi-Cannon was in the best shape of any trail:  ice with a thin bonded layer of snow (an inch or two).  Snow softening in the warming weather.
Gear of the Day:  trail-runners w/ micro-spikes.

tmail and Liberty Summit
Mutha's trip report (pics here):  unbelievable conditions.  the liberty spring trail is a douche and was kind of slog down, but overall it was a great day indeed.  in this warm 'spring' weather, the trails (especially Hi Cannon) were nearly perfect.  i had been planning on using the excuse of shitty/icy trails to explain why it was hard to haul my lard-ass to the top, but even i had to admit that there's little that could've been done to improve on the conditions.

we spent much of the day in running tights and t-shirts.  seriously.  on Liberty summit we had to layer up to hang out, but there was only a light breeze.  the summit was enshrouded in clouds so we didn't have warming sunshine but this was a May hike for sure.

liberty spring trail was kind of crappy - the trail was basically all ice, so the ascent was fine but the descent was annoying.

note to future self:  if everyone bails and i'm stuck w/ tmail, don't go... or pretend i have the flu or something.  it's unbelievable how that guy just dis-a-fucking-ppears going uphill.  it's like chasing an F4 on a tricycle.  buh-bye.

dogman, remember on our hike w/ the dogs around Thanksgiving when we ran into the couple on Mt. Tom?  she was belching really loud and he looked like he had no idea why he was with her.  we ran into them on the Hi-Cannon trail.  we passed them on the way up, and at the summit tmail pointed out that they were one and the same.  i actually recognized the guy, but didn't place him.  i muttered 'have a great hike' as i passed and she said 'you too, darling'.  that weird phrasing put me on the edge of figuring it out.  tmail nailed it at the summit and we chatted when we passed them on our way down.  they remembered the dogs, one young guy and two old guys.


wish you all could've been there to share the pain.
tmail's trip report (pics here):  Mutha and I had an awesome day peaking bagging, griding, assaulting call it what you want.

Cannon was every man for himself blitz assault via Hi Cannon trail AND conditions are epic for trail running with spikes.

Liberty was our 2nd assault we actually carried packs for this albeit ultra-lite had a "leisurely" pace talked and had a great time.
Conditions are spring like. Mutha is going ultra lite for 2012, watch out!

Wished you guys all made it.