Franconia Notch Loop Hike

Mileage = 11.4

My brother Roy and I staggered into our campsite at Russell Pond at about 3:30 PM today. It was supposed to be a short day of 6.2 miles, but we ended up making choices that doubled it. So whose to blame? Neither of us, its the Polish way!
Camping with my brother Roy is easy. He gets up at 5 AM, even earlier than I do. We hike at about the same clip, enjoy a good honest day of exertion, both wear a rag on our heads tied into bandanas , just like me. We are sort of a matched set, like salt and pepper shakers.
Today we ended up on the AT again. Our original loop was, again from the Romano book, Loop Hikes .
We started out visiting The Basin, just off Rt. 93. The Basin is a carved recessed rock formation with a deep pool below it.


Henry David Thoreau visited this place in September of 1839. He must of stood right where I did, and wrote that “this pothole is perhaps the most remarkable curiosity of its kind in New England”. Samuel Eastman in his 1858 White Mountain Guide called this spot “One of the beautiful haunts of Nature, a luxurious and delicious bath fit for the ablutions of a goddess”. Pretty lofty observation, but we didn’t see any goddesses nearby.
Then we went up. Up to Kinsman Falls, then Rocky Glen Falls. Truth be told, we hiked in a stream bed most of the morning.

The weather was cool enough, low 70’s, but the humidity was 100%. Our shirts were quickly soaked from sweat.
We opted to extend our original route by swinging left up to the Kinsman Pond Trail, bypassing the AT. Kinsman Pond had a new shelter, at some 3,700 feet elevation.

We stopped there for a mid morning snack, but not for long, as the black flies were biting us like crazy. Humidity and water do that with them.
Our next decision was to extend the loop again. Instead of heading back down to Lonesome Lake Hut on the AT on the Fishin Jimmy Trail, we took the Kinsman Ridge Trail due east toward Cannon Mountain. We went over a series of rounded humps called The Cannon Balls. They roamed around the 3700 foot level, and were never ending.

We finally reached the last Ball where we looked across a deep valley out toward the summit of Cannon, with the big lodge on top. We were close to 3800 feet when we started a steep, unrelenting descent to Lonesome Lake.
We wanted to escape the flies and eat our 1 PM lunch at the Hut. We got there quickly, covering the 2 miles in less than an hour. It was pretty empty there, only three other people eating their picnic lunches in the big room. I passed on buying a $24 T-shirt.
Here we extended our loop a third time, and headed down the Lonesome Lake Trail to the Lafayette Place campground another two miles down. It was a much more gradual descent on this section.
We saw a number of parties heading up to visit Lonesome Lake from the LP campground. When we reached the crowded LP campground we worked our way through the crowded campsites to eventually start our final 2 miles push back to the Basin, where we started the day. It was easy walking, but we were tired . We were also surprised that there was nobody on the trail.
Roy surmised that folks who were staying at the LP campground were probably dismayed to learn that it was a whole 4 mile round trip from their site to the features around the Basin, so they probably took their cars. He and I stripped off our shoes and socks and soaked our aching feet for a very brief time in the ice cold clear waters of the Pemigewassett River.

Roy fell as soon as we started up from the mossy rock. Long day.
Just as we were about 5 minutes from reaching the car, he approached a big wet room sized ledge we had to cross, when he turned to me and said, “Be careful, this looks slippery.” The second step he took sent both legs out from under him and he fell on his left hip, hard. He was in big hurt, and I half expected him to have a broken hip. He was wincing in obvious pain and I encouraged him to just lay there and wait until he settled down. Some 5 minutes later I helped him up and we made it back to the car, tentatively.
Ibuprofen time.
Back at the site, we slowly put together a feast. I’ll let Roy explain.

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