While I’m not sure it is the proper name, I called our hike on Thursday, December 26 the Pemi Traverse since we hiked 25 miles through the heart of the Pemigewasset Wilderness and didn’t loop it. It seems like the right name, though.
The day started with a car spot coordinated by Ross. The four of us left from Route 302 and walked 2.5 miles on Zealand Road to the Hale Brook Trail. The hike was steep in section but spikes were the right choice. The temperature was warm enough to warrant wearing just a wind breaker, hat and gloves. We were the only ones on the trail and at the summit, so far. I don’t remember ever being at the summit of Mount Hale alone; it’s usually crowded.
Mount Hale, 4054, done!
Now onto Zealand via Twinway. While hiking through the low laying areas, the snow was sand-like. The streams weren’t frozen, but icy, and at one point I stepped the wrong way over a stream, lost my balance and face-planted into a pile of soft snow. There were a few false summits and I was glad to reach the junction for a right hand turn and a .1 mile hike off Twinway to the summit.
Zealand, 4260, done!
We hiked over Guyot, 4580, but unfortunately it doesn’t count as one of the 48 4,000 footers.
Onto the Bondcliff Trail and a short 1 mile diversion over to West Bond, 4540.
Originally I was going to bypass it and keep on with Vicky who was having leg cramps, and didn’t want the extra miles. I bypassed this peak on the summer Pemi Loop run because I was exhausted. But on this hike I felt great and wanted to go for it once I saw the trail sign. It was soooooo worth it. Great views, no clouds and no wind. I hit my head twice on tree limbs dangling across the trail (Stop staring at your feet while hiking!) while on the final 10 miles of this hike. Ouch.
I hiked up Bond as fast as I could to catch up with Vicky. Hiking above treeline is amazing. By 4:15pm there was still no wind and the temperature seemed to be staying steady but I was losing light. Bond, 4698 done! I took a video and some pictures and continued on to Bondcliff.
I wanted to arrive at Bondcliff at sunset because it is my favorite mountain. I missed the sunset but it’s okay. Vicky was waiting at the top. I took in the amazing view and the colors to the west. I just love the rock formation and the feeling of being in the middle of a protected wilderness. There was very little snow and I could’ve taken off my spikes but I opted to keep them on; they made me feel more confident despite so many rocks. Dark was approaching and I wanted to hike the difficult descent off Bondcliff with Vicky so we headed down.
Bondcliff, 4265, done!
The slogfest back to Lincoln Woods began in the dark. It was my first time hiking with a headlamp in the White Mountains. We ran some of the trail and then really picked up the pace the last four miles. We made it safe and sound to our cars.
Things I learned on this trip, luckily not from difficulty but just knowing that so much could’ve gone wrong, and always thinking about worst case scenarios:
- Always carry extra batteries for your headlamp
- Never hike long distance that begin and end in the dark, alone
- Hike with more gear and more food than you need
- Stop staring at your feet and look around while you hike so you don’t get a concussion from running into trees
What a day! Here’s the crew stopping at Zealand Hut for some water.