Breakfast with a View at Zealand Hut.

Zealand (4260')
West Bond (4540')


2004 October 9-10

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Another outstanding trip in the mountains. Elleing and I decided the hike to West Bond would be long enough to justify staying at Zealand hut for the night. We had both wanted to stay at a hut for a while. On this trip we got the added bonus of 2.8 miles less hiking to do in one day and the benefit of a very early start. Since we don't own backpacks, and I don't even own a sleeping bag, we were faced with a dilemma just two days prior to our trip. We could borrow gear, buy gear, or make do with what we had. After some great input from the Views from the Top forum and the staff at EMS, we opted to just bring fleece liners. We left work early Friday afternoon and started our much anticipated trek at about 4:30pm.

We started up Zealand trail, highly motivated by the 6:00pm dinner that awaited us. Our day packs, stuffed to the limit with the addition of the fleece liners, were a bit heavier than normal, but we hardly noticed on the short, flat trip in to the hut. It was our second time on this trail having hiked out Zealand trail when when we hiked Hale. This time the weather was better and we were able to better see the incredible scenary.

zealand_trail3.jpg zealand_trail1.jpg Zealand from Zealand Trail Mount Tom from Zealand Trail?

Our hut experience went well. We arrived at the hut plenty early for the evening meal and selected a couple bunks for the night. The view through Zealand Notch was stellar and the stars that night were brilliant. Dinner was an all vegetarian combination of soup, calzones, and cheesecake shared with some folks from Rhode Island and Cambridge. After dinner Elleing and I realized that neither one of us knows how to play cards, so we talked a while then tried to sleep. (We were wise to bring earplugs.) The fleece liners did the job perfectly and served as an effective barrier between us and the bunks. We slept well enough, ate a breakfast of cream of wheat, cereal, pancakes, and bacon, stashed our non-essential gear for the day, and left for West Bond about 7:30am.

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Our first stop would be Zeacliff which immediately follows a steep climb up the Twinway trail. It was early and we were well rested, so we made it up there quickly. (I'm not sure how quickly since I accidently deleted all the timestamps for the trip.) The view from Zeacliff was spectacular. The entire valley was vast and wild. Ethan Pond trail could be seen cutting across Whitewall Mountain and there was no mistaking that it used to be a railroad. It's hard to imagine that 100 years ago, so much human activity was present there.

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We continued to the summit of Zealand mountain, deciding to forego a side trip to Zeacliff Pond. The climb was much more gradual and relaxed and generally a nice walk in the woods. We stopped to feed some Jays. They were very uncooperative. I suspect the birds knew if they could keep dodging the camera, they would get more food. The peak was a short trip off the main trail and far less than breathtaking. It served as a good spot to snack and with Zealand bagged, we set our sights on West Bond.

zealand_marker.jpg on_zealand.jpg waiting_birds.jpg shawn-bird.jpg Bleepin' birds won't stay still for the pictures.

The rollercoaster effect started with our descent off Zealand. Down Zealand, then up Guyot, then down Guyot, then up Guyot, then down Guyot, then up, then down, then up, then down, then up West Bond. I hadn't really picked up on this when looking at the map, but it added some character to the trip. It also had us adding and removing layers on a regular basis. We thought the summit of Guyot would never come, then we emerged from the scrub to a great view of Guyot's shoulder with West Bond in the background. Guyot may not count as a 4000 foot summit but it felt like it should. Some weather was starting to move in and by the time we traversed the 1.3 miles along the Bondcliff trail and past Guyot campsite to West Bond, it was mostly cloud soup.

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We ate lunch on our 40th 4000 footer. There's a certain psychological effect and gratification that comes with being in the forties. It was a bit windy and the only view was of Guyot but we had the summit to ourselves most of the time we were there. We rested a while, enjoyed the moment, and started the 8+ mile trip back to the car.

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When we reached the hut at about 4:20pm, there was a wedding reception underway. It looked like a good time, but we couldn't stay for the party. We ate some hut soup and Swedish bread, grabbed our overnight gear, and headed to the car before the rain got us. We passed three elderly ladies making their way down the Twinway trail past Zealand Falls. They were going VERY slow, yet they made it to the road just as we were leaving. Impressive.

We finished that Saturday's 13.6 mile journey about 10.5 hours after we started and just as the rain started to come down hard. An absolutely great trip (16.4 miles, 3250'). Great weather, people, location, and trail. What more could you ask for? Well, you might ask for steak. We stopped at the Longhorn Steakhouse in Nashua to replenish our much depleted energy levels.


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