New Zealand Valley to the East Branch of the Pemigewasset

Date of Hike: 8/14/13

Zealand Trail: 2.5 miles  /  Eathan Pond Trail: 0.7 miles  / Bushwhack: 1.5 miles  /  Ethan Pond Trail: 1.5 miles  /  Thoreau Falls Trail: 5.1 miles  /  Wilderness Trail: 1.5 miles  /  East Side Trail: 5.1 miles
Around 17.9 miles, 1,800 feet elevation gain

Trip Report
- Alton and I both had a day off Wednesday.  Originally, we had an all day hike planned but I was still recovering from MMD 50K and Alton fractured her hand on Friday's hike of Mount Moosilauke so we decided to do a nice long easy hike over old railroad grades with the main focus being on the remote and beautiful Thoreau Falls Trail.
- Temps were in the low 60's as we, Cole included, made our way into Zealand Notch.  It was Alton's first time on the Ethan Pond Trail between Zealand Trail and Shoal Pond Trail so she was taken aback by the huge views from just below the high rising walls of Whitewall mountain.  When we reached the section of trail where a few of the jumbled boulders from the Whitewall Mountain slide come through Alton suggested that we go on an 'adventure', so we started up the slide.
- The slide heading up Whitewall Mountain is steep with a mix of small and large boulders, some move, some don't.  It reminded me of the slide on North Tripyramid.  Alton and Cole lead the way as we kept ascending steeply until a wall of cliffs appeared on out right.  Here, the slide became really loose with gravel and rocks of all sizes that would become dislodged and tumble down the slide a bit.  After the gravel section the slide transformed back to boulders with more vegetation.  We had two options, keep heading up into the thick vegetation or head right and tackle the cliffs.  We headed up the cliffs finding the safest way to get the dog up.  I went up ahead and Alton with her good hand would grab a hand-hold, hold Cole over her shoulder with her bad hand and I would reach down and pull him up.  It was a little hairy in spots because the cliffs weren't rock solid and you had to be careful not to find a 'fractured' handhold that might crumble.  However, we were very careful and made it above the cliffs and headed through the scrub to Whitewall Mountain's open ledges
- For those who have never been up to Whitewall Mountain the views are incredible.  Carrigain Notch to Shoal Pond look incredible and unique!  We spent a good fifteen minutes up there relaxing and taking pics before heading back down.
- There are two ways I know of to get down Whitewall Mountain; one, head back towards the A-Z Trail, or head north then east down to Ethan Pond Trail and come out near the Throeau Falls Trail junction.  We decided to take a third and unconventional way off Whitewall Mountain; steep overgrown drainage!
- We headed west for about 0.2 miles past the cliffs then headed straight down through extremely thick and steep forest into an overgrown wet and slick drainage.  It was slow going for Alton and I, Cole on the other hand was loving every second of it scurry along the floor of the forest under all the branches!
- At one point both Alton and I got injured, first I went off the drainage a little to check out a semi-open cliff, as I reached the cliff I jarred some rocks loose that fell and smashed my middle finger and took some flesh with it.  The blood started flowing so I down climbed back to the drainage, stuck my hand in a small puddle of water and then wrapped it up.  Then, Alton fell a few feet while down climbing in the drainage, there was one leap of faith down a few feet where she fell to the ground and landed on her fractured hand.  Luckily after this spot we were able to scoot along the side of the drainage until I took us to a boulder field and then back into the woods where we popped back out on the Ethan Pond Trail startling some hikers!
- We took a break to make sure we were well enough to continue on.  From here the rest of the hike went through some beautiful and remote sections of the Pemigewasset Wilderness.  We headed to Thoreau Falls and relaxed at the falls and then headed deep into the woods through some of the most attractive forests in the Whites over fern blanket trails traveling along the remote North Fork passing by some nice swimming holes and old logging camps on and off the old railroad grade.
- We ran and hiked sections of Thoreau Falls and Cole loved every second of it.  Every water crossing he'd jump into and prance around in, the prancing and his bright orange bow-tie has given him the nickname of 'Fancy Pants'
- We hit the old and crooked Thoreau Falls bridge and took a bunch of pics before heading off towards the Wilderness Trail and the East Side Trail.  After about ten miles of remote hiking and not seeing another hiker we started running into a few as we got closer to the parking lot.  We both must have looked like hell, Alton's 'tennis outfit' was wrecked, and I had blood on my backpack and was filled with dirt.  Fancy Pants on the other hand was as white as a sheet of paper!  Even with the bumps and bruises we enjoyed every second of our day off in the Pemigewasset Wilderness and there no other way I would have rather spent the day!

 Zealand Trailhead
 Zealand Trail
 Zealand River
 Zealand Trail Boardwalk
 Zealand Meadows
 Zealand Medows
 Cole chomping on a pea pod looking for the magic beans
 Cole, rocking out
 Cole posing
A rare facial expression from Cole!
 Cole leading the way up the Whitewall Slide
 Looking down to Whitewall Brook rock pond
 Heading up the Slide
 Whitewall Slide
 Alton and Cole up the jumbled boulders
 Looking off towards the backside of the Bonds
An alpine meadow on the north shoulder of Mount Bond 
 Whitewall Slide
 Whitewall Cliffs
 Topping out of the Slide
 Looking down the slide
 Whitewall Slide
 Alton and Cole scrambling up the cliffs
 Alton bringing Cole up to safety
 Whitewall Mountain
Looking off to Carrigain Notch 
 Carrigain Notch
 Whitewall Mountain ledges
 Looking off towards the Hancocks
Shoal Pond with Mount Nancy and Beemis 
 Pemigewasset Wilderness
 Shoal Pond
 Carrigain Notch, Mount Lowell (L), Vose Spur (R), and Mount Tremont faded in the background
 Hanging out on Whitewall Mountain
 The Conifers of Whitewall Mountain
 Alton leading the bushwhack
 Looking back up the thick and steep woods
 Alton and Cole heading off of Whitewall Mountain
Our route: Up the steep slide, down a steep overgrown drainage.
Cole taking in the views along the Ethan Pond Trail 
 Zealand Notch
 Ethan Pond Trail
 Thoreau Falls Trail Junction
 Thoreau Falls
 Thoreau Falls
 Thoreau Falls
 Rock slab of the Thoreau Falls
 Glacial pothole
 Glacial Potholes
 Hiking, anyone?
 Running the Thoreau Falls Trail
 Cole cooling the paws off!
 Fern blanketed Thoreau Falls Trail
 Deep in the Pemi Wilderness!
 The soft footed Thoreau Falls Trail
 North Fork
 Snack time!
 Cole waiting for mom to arrive
 Hurricane Irene Washout
 Old railroad grade on the Thoreau Falls Trail
 Back to running!
 Thoreau Falls Trail
 Camp 22 clearing
 Thoreau Falls Bridge
Alton crossing the bridge with Mount Bond behind her
 = no fattties!
 It's not the camera angle, it's the bridge, it's crooked!
 Thoreau Falls Bridge
 Thoreau Falls Bridge marker
 Thoreau Falls Bridge
 Old cement bridge foundation
 Railroad pipes
 Old railroad grade on the Wilderness Trail
 Cole finds a stick!
 Cole running along the Wilderness Trail
 Site of the old East Branch suspension bridge :(
 Cables from the suspension bridge
 Hurricane Irene washout
 Wilderness Trail
 Tippy toeing across a brook
 Cole cooling the paws off, again!
 The east branch in-ground swimming hole!
 East Branch in-ground swimming hole
 East Branch
 A huge rock sitting in the East Branch
 East Branch embankment washout
 Pemigewasset Wilderness Boundary
 Franconia Falls Tentsite Caretaker headquarters
 East Branch
 I think it may be Whaleback Mountain
 Looking off towards Potash and Whaleback Mountain, I think.
 East Side Trail
 Cole strolling down the East Side
East Side washout
 Hurricane Irene damage
 East Side washout
 Drainage pipe moved hundred feet down the brook by the storm
 East Branch
 Lincoln Woods Trail Closure
Lincoln Woods

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