Zealand Road: 3.5 miles
Zealand Trail: 2.5 miles
Twinway, Buswhack, & Zealand Spur: 7.9 miles
Lend-a-Hand Trail: 2.7 miles
Hale Brook Trail: 2.2 miles
Zealand Road: 2.7 miles
Total Miles: 21.5 (elevation gain 4,300)
- Initially my plans were to attempt a Pemi Loop (32 miles of ups and downs) however while driving up to NH the night before the hike I started to have a bad feeling that with the recent snow (18 inches during the week) that the dreaded Garfield Ridge Trail was out to get revenge on me for kicking it's A$$ last June for payback after it had made me cry when I was nine years old. So I played it safe (or if you ask the Garfield Ridge I wimped out) and decided to Hike up to Zealand Mountain with plans on hiking up to Mount Guyot.
- I started hiking at 6:45am on Zealand Road which is still gated for another week or two so I had to hike up the boring road, I was hoping to see a moose which I did only it was being pulled behind the back of a WMNF vehicle...obviously it was dead and very smelly.
- I hadn't hiked on the Zealand Trail since I was really little and it was a very easy walk with good views from Zealand Pond and some pretty nifty pond dams built by some eager beavers as you pass around the pond.
- At Zealand Falls Hut is when things started getting interesting, the caretaker told me how the trail up to Zealand past the Zeacliff trail junction is not broken and would be hard to follow. There were two groups of two ahead of me but I passed them before the lookout on the Twinway, however the trail seemed to be broken out past zeacliff and I was thrilled until I realized I was on a bushwhack and then before I knew it it completely stopped about .5 miles from the last white AT blaze I had saw.
- I backtracked to the last white blaze which was located above the steep sections past the Zeacliff Pond trail junction and searched for the next blaze, it took about ten minutes to find the trail "corridor" and that's when I realized what the previous hikers had missed. They where going along smoothly but veered off to the right of the trail and within 100 yards they actually crossed the trail but kept going off to the left then straitened out and then wandered to the left again before coming to a dead end. I cut off some dead branches and put them over the bushwhack to help prevent people from following them.
- From here to the summit of Zealand I was breaking trail, anywhere from six to eighteen inches of wet, heavy, spring snow which made for slow going hiking blaze to blaze. I decided at the summit to head back down and not continue to break trail up to Mount Guyot.
- On the way back I ran into two groups of two doing a Zealand-Bonds Traverse! (Big Earl & Sue, LRiz & Una-Dogger, and Terra the trail breaking dog!) This hike is done with a car spot (Lincoln Woods off the Kanc and Zealand Trail/Route 302) is a great hike with the terrific views while asecending and descending the Bonds.
- The Twinway has this awesome outlook into Zealand Notch all the way to Carrigain Notch, with Mount Washington and Monroe looming large over Mount Tom, Field, and Willey. I stopped for lunch here, and shed layers because it was very warm out.
- On the hike down I was pretty disapointed that I had not continued to go up to Guyot, so I made a quick decision when I came to the Lend-a-Hand Trail junction to hike up to Mount Hale. This was 2.7 miles of unbroken snow trail with the same conditions on the Twinway except more wet muddy post-holes. It was about 60 degrees out by this time so I was in a t-shirt with snowshoes on mashing away at the snow! Luckily the blazes on this trail are much easier to locate, whoever painted them should be given an award, they are perfectly placed!
- The hike down Hale Brook Trail was fast and uneventfull, however the hike back down Zealand Road was beyond boring, it's worse than Lincoln Woods/Winderness Trail, at least that trail the RR ties keep you semi alert. I did run into a skier who had been skiing down Mount Hale which was pretty cool. I also passed about a dozen girls from Gordon College (or as I call it "our lady of perpetual sorrow") hiking up to spend a night at Zealand Falls Hut!
- In the end it was a long day...Started at 6:45am, Zealand Summit at 12pm, Hale Summit at 3pm, back at car at 5pm. Temps started in 30's quickly rose into 50's higher up and 70's down below, high clouds and hazy, but very good visibility. Fell twice on Twinway, one nasty face first fall on Lend-a-Hand trail almost into a shallow brook (I blame the snowshoes for these three falls!). Took about a dozen direct shots to arms from branches due to high snow on Twinway that left a few marks. All in all an awesome long hike!
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