Cannon & The Cannonballs | 5/25/22
Updated: Nov 6, 2022
The first time I’d heard of the Cannon Balls was about two years ago on the summit of North Kinsman. My hiking party had ran into a man who told us that years ago he had traversed all the way across from Cannon, going over three “cannonballs” for which he thought his wife was going to divorce him for making her do. So, with that in mind, I went ahead and soloed a Cannon Traverse on my way back home from Wilderness First Responder training with a smile on my face.
I left the ever-so-charming Senior Hall at Saint Mike’s at 5 am and journeyed across Vermont to the Lafayette Campground. Setting off at 7 am sharp, I took to the Lonesome Lake Trail and for the first time, it didn’t gas me. In some combination of living on the top floor of my dorm building, squatting high reps, and running up smaller mountains, I finally felt like a hiker and not a runner or weightlifter who hikes. Progress!
Once I got to the lake, I kept right and took Lonesome Lake to the ridge, a section I had never done before. The mile flew by and once I got to Kinsman Ridge, I decided to out and back the 0.6 miles of the ridge between the Lonesome Lake Trail junction and Hi-Cannon junction for the sake of tracing. Those 0.6 miles quickly turned into the hardest thing I’ve done by myself, with scrambles of up to 66% grade and wet rocks. Moreover, the drop off the side of the ridge was so steep that I could hear Bridal Veil Falls below me… sort of freaky. Once I got to the junction I had planned on just turning around from, I didn’t feel ready to face that again. So I carried on to Cannon just to stall going down the scrambles.
Once I hit Cannon, I anxiously headed back to the dreaded section and talked myself through until the worst part, where I started to hear other people. I briefly talked to a woman on my least favorite part before seeing two familiar pugs come up behind her. After the dogs came one of my high school cross county coaches and boy was I relieved to see a familiar face in that section which was scarier after a whole week of learning about death in the backcountry.
After running into Erin & company, I made it down the out and back well and then carried on to the Cannon Balls. East Cannonball was a piece of cake, but after that, I started to understand why that man’s wife was considering a divorce. It was sort of relentless but I can’t gauge how hard it was because I ate so little before this section that I was losing steam quickly and the Still Woozy blaring from my hip pocket was not enough to get me through with ease. Nothing technical though, so I am thankful for that.
After stopping for a much-needed snack at the junction of the AT and section of Kinsman Ridge I’d just come from, I soon ran into Denise, the hiker behind #followthetutu, on Fishin’ Jimmy Trail. We ended up hiking the whole two miles down to the lake together which was much appreciated after so many miles alone that day. Once we got to the water, I hopped onto Around the Lake to finish up some trace sections before going back down to the parking lot where I made good use of the ice cold water in the Pemigewasset to cool off before my ride.
On trails old and new, I was thrilled to put down 9 miles and about 3,100 feet of elevation gain in a (mostly) solo day’s work. May my summer of traverses begin!