Juuust A Bit Outside . . . Missing the Target on a Bushwhack to West Bond

Date of Hike: 10/11/15

Lincoln Brook Trail: 3.0 miles / Franconia Brook Trail: 2.3 miles / Bushwhack: 3.7 miles / West Bond Spur: 0.5 miles / Bondcliff Trail: 7.5 miles / Lincoln Woods Trail: 3.0 miles
Total Miles: 20.0 miles (4,385 feet elevation gained) Garmin Forerunner 910XT

Trip Report:
- I consider myself pretty good at finding off trail targets without a GPS mapping device or compass (slides, ponds, waterfalls, logging camps, abandoned trails). However, there is one slide that I am now 0 for 2 in climbing, and it's one of the easier ones to find, too! I don't know how I pulled it off but for the second consecutive year I missed West Bond's Guitar Slide. In May of 2014 I overshot it and went up the super steep Monster Slide, and Sunday I undershot it and whacked initially through a beautiful open forest that eventually closed all around me, and then I went fern swimming.
- The bushwhack along the bottom of Hellgate Ravine is pretty easy, I hooked onto an old haul road which I followed for a good distance, then followed a herd path for a little bit.  Initially I had planned to cut up around mile 7.5 but started uphill around mile 7.0 at an angle to cut off the Guitar Slide.  However, I ran into what I thought was the start of the slide track when I came across a few boulders above and below moss.  I thought there was a clearing in the woods above me which I took up, wrong decision!
- Soon the grade became really steep...excessively steep, and the nice open pine and birch woods closed in all around me and became and ugly and tangled mess of thick and nasty looking pine trees.  The highlight of this stretch was I hit a tiny batch of talus that had an interesting view across to Bondcliff.
- I knew I had screwed up but figured I was close to the slide, within a quarter of a mile, however the thick, steep, and rotten footing made heading to the right exhausting, so I just decided to 'swim' up through the nasty stuff until gaining the secluded western ridge of West Bond.  From here I whacked over to the true summit through some dense woods mixed with ok woods.  It's only a few tenths of a mile but even this part takes forever as you really have to watch for sharp branches that could easily land some damage.  In May of 2014 I wasn't as cautious and both my ears took jabs from broken and very sharp branches, cutting up my ears pretty good
- Anyway, I finally made it to the summit four hours after starting my hike from Lincoln Woods.  On the summit there was a family of four and a nice solo hiker.  The weather was beautiful and I took a much needed break to relax, refuel, and remove hundreds of pine needles from my pack, shoe, shirt, head, back, etc.
- Other than a few surface cuts I made it through relatively unharmed, however, for the first time in a very long time I felt defeated and exhausted!  Initially I had planned to drop down the West Bond talus field into Redrock Ravine, head over to Bear Pond, ascend the Bear Pond Slide to the Twinway, and hike the trails back out.  Instead, I just enjoyed the summit of West Bond for awhile before taking the trails back out over Bond and Bondcliff.
- On the way out I saw several hikers, including Eugene, his friend, and Eugene's dog Max.  They were doing a two day Pemi Loop on what will probably be the last two outstanding back to back weather days in the White Mountains for a long time.
- When I reached Bondcliff I saw how I goofed up and also saw the mini talus field I stumbled upon.  I just shook my head and couldn't believe that I screwed up, again.  Even though I didn't accomplish what I set out to do it still was a cool way to grid out the Bonds!
- The hike out below Bondcliff was uneventful as usual.  The closer I got to Lincoln Woods the more the crowds started to build, eventually to a level of absurdity.  I have never seen that many people at the Lincoln Woods trailhead, and the traffic was a nightmare heading back to NoCo over the Kanc.
- Leaf Peeper season is in full swing, prepare yourself to getting stuck behind some really slow drivers!

I start my hike by crossing the Lincoln Woods suspension bridge and hiking close by to the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River

Some really nice birch trees line the Lincoln Woods Trail just before Camp 8 clearing

After three miles I cross the Franconia Brook Footbridge and enter the Pemigewasset Wilderness and hike along the Franconia Brook Trail

A nice little pond the trail skirts around

When I reached the Hellgate Brook crossing I headed into the woods and found an old haul road that I hiked on

Old iron pan next to Hellgate Brook, railroad junk from Camp 9 off Franconia Brook Trail, and a fire ring that probably hasn't been used in a very long time on a haul road in Hellgate Ravine

As I bushwhacked into Hellgate Ravine I stayed close to the brook and dropped down into it for this shot near a nice patch of Birch glades

I started heading up and thought I was about to stumble upon the bottom of the Guitar Slide (left).  All I ended up finding was a mini talus field (right).  I pretty much knew my error right away.

View of Bondcliff from the talus

Once I gained the western most section of West Bond's ridge I had a partially thick to thick whack remaining to the true summit

West Bond summit as seen from a bump that is just a few feet shorter than the summit

The Franconia Brook Valley

The two 'bowls' that make up Redrock Ravine

The Slides of Redrock Ravine

Finally after struggling through the thick bushwhack I'm awarded with a herd path for the last few hundred feet!

West Bond and Bond summits

Looking down into the Franconia Brook Valley


Classic Bondcliff Ridge picture

Mount Carrigain rising above the Pemi Wilderness

West Bond slides.  Guitar Slide and the Monster Slides.  The circle is the mini talus field I stumbled upon

Monster Slides, very steep!

Owl's Head and the Franconia Ridge

Hellgate Ravine nestled far below the Bonds

The Hancocks

Cliffs of Bond

The long hike out over the old railroad grade

A great autumn afternoon to spend hiking the Bonds

Route for the bushwhack to nowhere (yellow was today's route, red was last May's route), click here for details


  1. Good stuff Chris! Hopefully that cool view of Bondcliff made it worth it. I admit I chuckled when you said you "felt defeated and exhausted", because on our recent visit we felt that way several days and were cracking self-deprecating jokes among ourselves about you lapping us on our hikes : ) I've only been on the Bonds once, and while I loved all three I think West Bond is actually my favorite! I wouldn't mind trying that Guitar Slide route myself sometime.

    Thanks for the great pic of Owls Head too! I ended up finishing the Northeast 111 on it the other week instead of Isolation because we wanted to give Lincoln Brook another day to go down after all that rain on October 29 and 30. We did the Black Pond bushwhack, had a really fun climb up the slide, then bushwhacked out over the south summit and southeast cliffs. It was a fitting way to finish the list.

    1. Congratulations on your NE 111 finish, awesome job! I have yet to whack out to southeast cliffs, but it's on my ever expanding off trail to-do list. Hope you had a great time up in the Whites while you were up here. :)

    2. Thanks! We had a great trip, both in the Dacks and Whites. Did almost everything on our itinerary except the Jay Range and Poke-O-Moonshine in the Dacks due to heavy rain. We also skipped Noonmark, which I have been up twice but my buddy Peter wanted. The rain made going to High Falls Gorge and The Flume worthwhile and spectacular though!

    3. Noonmark is on my to-do list! Sound like one heck of a trip!

  2. The exact spot(s) to find the views take a little poking around and there isn't a lot of room but the views are quite nice. Whenever I get that particular album's photos online (I'm being slow culling and editing them), I'll try to remember to send you a link.

  3. Thanks! I've only been to West Bond once, but this account makes me long to return to familiar territory. . .