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Lonesome Lake, Coppermine Col - page 2 of 2

The snow began to get a bit deeper as we climbed higher, but compared to an average year, there really wasn't much on the ground. Never-the-less, the sun was rising and beginning to filter through the branches of the thickening conifer forest, the day was warming up, and the woods and trail were bright and cheerful. I soon put the "Occurrence at Cascade Brook Crossing" behind me, looking forward now to our arrival at Lonesome Lake Hut.

The trail continued to hug the brook until we reached the junction with the Kinsman Pond Trail, after which we veered off to the north. The way was fairly easy, and we soon reached the shores of Lonesome Lake, where the views across the notch to Franconia Ridge and up to the nearby rounded dome of the Northeast Cannonball were clear and spectacular. We paused at the small dock below the hut so I could take some pictures and enjoy the views, and then continued the rest of the way up to the hut. I tied Muffin up to the railing outside the dining room door, and went in for a short rest.

Two girls were sharing the duties of caretaker, and it turned out that I had met both of them before, as they had been on the croo at Mizpah Spring Hut back in October when I was there to work on the Mt Clinton Trail. They only had a couple of days left to enjoy the mountains before being replaced by the winter caretaker. They warned me that the Lonesome Lake Trail down to the notch was much icier than the Cascade Brook Trail, mostly due to its heavier traffic. I bought a new hat and refilled one of my water bottles at the hand pump out back, wished them a merry Christmas, and then retrieved Muffin to continue our hike.

I still wasn't sure whether I wanted to climb all the way up to the Northeast Cannoball, but I wasn't ready to head back yet either, so Muffin and I hiked around the far shore of the lake, and then turned northwest onto the Lonesome Lake Trail toward the ridge. Looking up, the intensely-blue sky contrasted sharply with the snowy white branches of the balsam firs and subdued browns of the leafless birches.

The trail soon become rather steep, and the going slow. It was a bit cumbersome to climb in snowshoes in a mixture of snow, ice, and bare rock, but it was too slippery for bare boots alone, and crampons would have been overkill and probably even dangerous. By the time we reached the Kinsman Ridge Trail at Coppermine Col, I was totally bushed, and had definitely decided against tackling the Northeast Cannonball, even though it was only another 350 or so vertical feet higher. I wasn't trying for the New England Hundred Highest list anyway.

Muffin and I shared a power bar and some water, and then turned around and headed back down the trail. Returning to Lonesome Lake again, I paused for a few minutes on the northern shore to look back across the lake to the hut, while Muffin investigated the snowy and barely-frozen shoreline.

As the caretakers had mentioned, the Lonesome Lake Trail below the Cascade Brook Trail and Dodge Cutoff junction was decidedly slick. Aside from having to sidestep the ever-present rocks protruding through the thin snow cover, we made pretty good time back down to Lafayette Place Campground.

Near the bottom, past most of the ice, I removed my snowshoes, but soon found out how really slippery the trail was. As gentle as the terrain was at that point, I slipped and slid my way down to the bike path, managing to fall once or twice along the way. Thanks to a thin strip of bare pavement, the bike path was much quicker going, and we made it back to the Basin and our car in about a half-hour.

We hadn't set any speed or elevation records, and didn't even climb to the summits of any peaks, but the nice weather had made for a rather enjoyable pre-Christmas hike in the mountains.

Muffin on the Cascade Brook Trail. The snow began to get a bit deeper as we climbed higher, but compared to an average year, there really wasn't much on the ground.

Sun filtering through the trees on the Cascade Brook Trail. A sunny day always seems to make a day out the trails more cheerful

Northeast Cannonball from the shores of Lonesome Lake. Just under 4000 ft, the Northeast Cannonball is one of the New England Hundred Highest.

Muffin on the shores of Lonesome Lake. In the clear winter air, Franconia Ridge stands out vividly in the distance.


Franconia Ridge from Lonesome Lake. Mt Lafayette is on the left and Mt Lincoln is on the right.

Closeup of Mt Lafayette from Lonesome Lake. There appears to be a small plume of snow blowing off the summit to the left (north).

Muffin at Lonesome Lake Hut. A hood on a dog fleece doesn't quite work right. If I pulled it all the way down it would cover her eyes.


Looking up at the intensely-blue sky through the trees higher up on the Lonesome Lake Trail.

Coppermine Col. I thought about climbing up to the Northeast Cannonball, but changed my mind. I was a bit tired and wasn't trying for the New England Hundred Highest list anyway.

Looking south from the north shore of Lonesome Lake. The top of the hut and the dock clearing are just visible directly across the lake.

Closeup of the hut from the north shore of Lonesome Lake. The dock, at the left, is a popular place to sit and admire the views.

Muffin investigating the north shore of Lonesome Lake. The ice wasn't safe, so I had to make sure that she didn't wander out from the shore.


  Coppermine Col: