Sunday, June 06, 2010

Solo, wet, misty Kinsman Ridge Traverse and a few life lessons

Do what you love
Driving along I-93 North I glance down at the White Mountain NF Trail map and trace my finger along the 16.9 mile Kinsman Ridge Trail anticipating the day’s adventure. The Kinsman Ridge Traverse has all the characteristics of a classic mountain run lush green forest, steep rocky terrain, flowing cascades, alpine ponds, and plenty of peaks.
Enchanted I stand -

You Get What You Get and You Don’t Get Upset
Dreary weather outlook - An area of low pressure centered west of the region will ride along the front, spreading rain showers over the summits.
Covered in a dense mist a quick dose of reality settles over me as I begin the morning traverse. Spring conditions are in full effect rain, wet rocks, slippery tree roots, mud and a dozen blown down trees. It was more like trail jogging and this over/under/around business was slowing my pace considerably.

Mistakes happen
About a mile in I wandered off trail and when I emerged ran southward.
2 miles into my traverse and there I stood at the beginning of the trail in a low state of mind. Hence the interesting nature of karma - "All living beings have actions (Karma) as their own, their inheritance, their congenital cause, their kinsman, their refuge. It is Karma that differentiates beings into low and high states." The Buddha

Grin and bear it
Smile, breathe and go slowly.” - Thich Nhat Hanh

11 miles in and climbing up to Kinsmans was a memorable long steep rocky climb. In my misery I take deep breaths and move upward slowly patiently. According to Buddhism, We ourselves are responsible for our own happiness and misery. We create our own Heaven. We create our own Hell. We are the architects of our own fate.

Enjoy the moment
When I finally arrived on South Kinsman visibility was about 50 feet. On a clear day South peak offers up grand views of Franconia Ridge to the east, Mt. Moosilauke to the south, North Kinsman and Cannon to the north. Photo. David Metsky 1994-2009

I took a self timed snapshot to capture the moment – 4000 feet up in the mountains, alone, surround by mist, getting pelted by hail, soaked to the bone, covered in mud, scraped and bruised from numerous falls, and I there I stood regardless of the elements of nature in a high state of mind overcome with joy and happiness.

Know your limits
If the up’s and down’s of the southern portion didn’t steal my vim and vigor I knew pushing on to Cannon mountain over the three mountain ridges nicknamed cannon balls and out of Coppermine Col. certainly would. I made a hard decision to pull my primal self from the ridge and back into reality. The Fishin Jimmy Trail which conveniently lies in a col between the Kimsmans and the Cannonballs leads steeply off the ridge to Cascade Brook Trail near the AMC Lonesome Lake Hut and then down to Lafayette campgrounds.

Here I sit sipping my morning coffee thinking how 16 miles felt like a lifetime and yet in six hours I experience the full grandeur of the White Mountain National Forest and all its highs and lows.

There are some people who live in a dream world,
and there are some who face reality;
and then there are those who turn one into the other
– Douglas Everett

Happy Trails -