Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Lonesome Lake

As promised, here's an update of our latest winter adventure at Lonesome Lake hut in the White Mountains (with pictures). It started, like many trips to New Hampshire do, with a stop at the Liquor Store right off the highway. We had to stock up on "nips" to keep us warm in the hut, and we also wanted to pick up some Sortilege, that super-yummy Maple Canadian Whiskey that our Canadian couchsurfers brought us a couple months ago. We couldn't find Sortilege in Massachusetts, but we'd heard it was available in New Hampshire. Sure enough, they had a huge display of it, although they were the small 375mL bottles which was disappointing, but it just meant that we got two!

The hike into Lonesome Lake hut is fairly short, a little over a mile, but like many trails in the White Mountains it is very steep - it gains about 900 feet in that one mile so it was a good workout. The lake was completely frozen over so we could take a shortcut across it to get to the hut:
The setup of the hut is a large main building where the caretaker keeps a wood fire in the evenings surrounded by two unheated bunk houses separated into rooms with four or six beds each. The entire compound sleeps about 45 or so, but when we got the hut, the very nice caretaker told us it was only us and one other couple that night. So we had privacy on our anniversary after all. We soaked it up that first night because on Saturday night the hut was filled to capacity, half of them a "Women of Newburyport" group. They certainly took advantage of the short hike in as they carried in at least a dozen bottles of wine.

Our friends Michael and Liza met us at the hut on Saturday morning and we did a day hike of two 4,000 foot peaks in the area. The conditions were amazing. The trail was already packed out by other snowshoers and although there wasn't much sun, there also wasn't any wind so it wasn't all that cold (as long as you kept moving). It truly was a winter wonderland. We summited both North and South Kinsman, making it peaks 17 and 18 in my quest to hike all 67 4,000 foot peaks in New England.
Even though supposedly the hut was packed the second night, no one shared our bunk room with us so we had the room to ourselves again. Of course, the temperature in the room was in the single digits so we didn't spend too much time in the room itself; mostly we were bundled up in our sleeping bags. I'm a pretty warm sleeper so I was comfortable in my 25 degree down bag, while Jaimee had borrowed her dad's 0 degree bag. It took up most of her backpack on the hike in and out but she claims it was totally worth packing in.
We had a great weekend at the hut, and I'd totally recommend Lonesome Lake as a place to try out "winter camping" as it's a short hike in, the hut is very comfortable (even with 40 or so people), and the setting is beautiful. We're already planning our next outing, probably to Carter Notch Hut at the end of February. 

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