Lonesome Lake Hut and Kinsman Pond Winter Hike
Tim and Valerie Charboneau

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We parked the car at Lafayette Campground at 1:30pm on Friday afternoon. It was 27 degrees F at the time (balmy!). Just as we pulled in, so did another car. It was the other two guys who would be staying at the hut with us that night. The conditions were great for walking, but low-hanging clouds shrouded the views of Franconia Ridge.

The trail is about 1.6 miles and 1000 feet of elevation gain to get to the hut. We were there by 3pm. We really think that the hike is easier in the snow than it is in the summer. We argued with a red squirrel on the way up the path. Thought he was going to jump on our heads.

The caretaker wasn’t around when we arrived, so we unpacked our food in the hut, then went off to pick a bunkroom. We chose #8 in the upper bunkhouse. It only had 2 outside walls, but there was duct tape holding the window-glass together. It was a 4-person room, but frost covered the top two bunks (as well as the ceiling). We puffed up our sleeping bags on the lower bunks, prepped our “warmers” and our sleeping clothes, then headed back over to the hut.
The upper bunkhouse
bunkhouse ktsfloor
Snow didn't melt inside
bunkhouse timprep
Tim preps for a hike
bunkhouse timsbunk
Tim's bunk
bunkhouse valsbunk
Val's bunk
The upper bunkhouse
Back at the hut, we met Jeremy, the caretaker. Just a couple words about the hut: we heard it was “heated”. Ha Ha. From 4pm until about 9pm each night, Jeremy runs the wood stove. Other than that, no heat. That *does* ensure that it’s warmer than the bunkhouses, but the warmest we saw inside the hut was about 47 degrees F at 9pm on Friday night. And that reading was taken fairly close to the fire. Due to this lack of heat, there’s no running water in the winter. Jeremy kept a pot of water close to boiling all the time so that we could make hot drinks. There was a propane-based stove and fridge in the kitchen. The fridge is where you keep anything that you don’t want to freeze.

We made ourselves an appetizer of sliced apples, cheese and crackers, and we had a couple cups of warm liquid (tea, hot chocolate). By this point, the two men we’d met in the parking lot were also settling in.

Dinner was whole-grain rice-a-roni with an envelope of cooked chicken in it. We also had these great individual cheesecakes given to us by our neighbor, Linda. They were frozen when we left home, and defrosted nicely in the fridge.

We sat around the wood stove and chatted until about 9:30pm. After that, it was back to the bunkhouse and into our sleeping bags. We have *great* bags, and we both stayed warm. Tim had a few issues figuring out how much clothing he needed inside his. Valerie had some strange paranoid issues regarding asphyxiation. She kept waking up every couple hours and couldn’t breathe (because the bags are meant to close up completely at the top). Scrambling and clawing to get out and breathe. Then realizing that she needed to go to the bathroom. Time to get out of the warm sleeping bag, put on lots of clothes, including hat, coat and boots, then go outside and walk to the latrine. Tim graciously got up and went each time with her, and the snow was coming down so hard that our footprints were gone each time we went out.
Hut from our bunkroom
hut dinningtables
Dining room
hut kitchen
hut woodstove
Around the wood stove
Hut again
We woke up around 7:30am. Had a quick “boiled water” breakfast – oatmeal, grape nuts, hard-boiled eggs, coffee and tea.

We were hiking by 9am. Our goal was the shelter at Kinsman Pond. It’s 2.1 miles each way, with another 1000 ft of elevation gain. It was 4 degrees F outside, with 5 mph wind and occasional gusts when we left. We wore our KTS (Kahtoola Traction System, i.e. “baby crampons”) all day. It was nice walking up the “Fishin’ Jimmy Trail”. Most of the time, again, it was easier than summer. Strenuous uphills at the end, several places where springs had covered the trail like a frozen waterfall and we had to bushwhack around them.

At the Kinsman Pond shelter, it was -7 degrees F with stiff, continuous wind. We ate the quickest snack ever as our hands turned to ice. We didn’t take any pictures at the pond. We learned a lesson that we need to take the pictures BEFORE we stop to eat, because once we start to get cold, we need to start walking again quickly.

Back at the hut, it was 1 deg F with more wind. There was a winter wind advisory for the entire valley that day. We had some warm drinks and a snack. We packed up our backpacks and hiked out at about 2:30pm. It took an hour to get to the car. The windchill worsened as the day progressed.
View of trail
View of trail
Frosty Tim
Smiling Val
Frozen waterfall (spring)