Sage Dylan Herr

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cannon Mountain (4K #9). February 20, 2011

Kinsman Ridge Trail (2.2 miles one-way) and various downhill ski slopes.

Last summer, Sage declared that she wanted to hike up Cannon and drink hot chocolate at the summit building, then ski down the slopes. This plan sounded fine, but we had to wait for the snow to fly.

Winter rolled around and DaveBear announced a summit party to celebrate both his birthday (21st) and his second round of the NH48. Sage and I decided we would time our hike to his celebration.

The day arrived and we set our boots on the trail.

Sage was ready, determined, and in fine spirits.

Up we went...

...and up...

...occasionally taking quick snack breaks...

...until we reached treeline.

Frigid air barrelled through the trees; a windchill advisory was in effect. Time to gear up.

We stepped out onto the open ridge and fought our way through the cold.

About a tenth of a mile below the summit, the blazes and cairns disappeared. I've been on this trail a half dozen times, twice before in winter, yet I couldn't figure out exactly which way to go. I knew the general gist of the path, but the snow had drifted and I didn't want to risk falling into a spruce trap. I stood there for a few minutes, blocking the wind from Sage, and weighed our options. Push forward and find the trail, or follow what looked like a packed bushwhack to the right. I chose the latter, feeling it was more important to get out of the wind pronto than carve out the official path for whoever followed. We took the short 'whack and within seconds found ourselves looking at the summit building.

Up and in we went. Sage was happy and proud of herself for making it.

We took a rest, drank some hot chocolate, then went back out to tag the official summit.

Normally, the path from the summit building to the tower is straightforward. Not today. It began in its usual obvious manner, then it degenerated into a mess of blow-downs and drifts. We pushed our way through snow and branches and eventually ended up where we wanted to go.

The wind was howling; we half walked, half crawled up the stairs. Finally, we made it. 4K number 9 for Sage!

We didn't linger; the warmth of the summit building beckoned. Back we went, where we waited for the others and enjoyed some refreshments.

DaveBear soon arrived...

...followed by Hugh and Alex (they ascended via tram).

The other revelers soon showed, and we all offered DaveBear our heartiest congratulations.

When it was time to go, Hugh and I traded kids. Sage swapped hiking gear for ski equipment, then she and Hugh took off down the slopes.

I trammed it down with Alex, then drove to the bottom of the ski area to pick up Hugh and Sage.

A couple of notes:

I'm proud of Sage for doing exactly what she said she was going to do. Kinsman Ridge Trail is extremely steep and it never lets up. It's not an easy hike. Sage did it without complaint, and her pace was much faster than I had anticipated. This was also her first hike in extremely cold weather (-10 at the top, -35 wind chill). She handled herself very well.

I learned a lesson out there -- my backpack tends to push my pants down a bit, and I walked above treeline without making sure every inch of my skin was completely covered. I was so focused on Sage's well-being that I neglected my own. I now have superficial frostbite on a patch of skin over my right hip. I was not aware of this happening, I didn't feel much of anything at the time. Moral: Don't neglect your own well-being while taking of others. You can't be of much use if you're the one succumbing.

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