Undercast & Solitude . . . Hale - Zealand - Bonds

Date of Hike: 12/1/18

Zealand Road: 2.6 miles  /  Hale Brook Trail: 2.2 miles  /  Lend-A-Hand Trail: 2.6 miles  /  Twinway: 4.2 miles  /  Bondcliff Trail: 0.6 miles  /  West Bond Spur: 1.0 miles  /  Bondcliff Trail: 8.2 miles  / Lincoln woods Trail: 3.0 miles
Total Miles: 24.2 miles (6,063 feet elevation gained) Garmin Forerunner 920XT

Trip Report:
- On Saturday morning I joined a super strong group of hikers to tackle breaking out a majority of the Hale-Zealand-Bonds Traverse.  The group was made up of Jason, Leah, Nate and his dog Piper, and Todd.
- We started just after 7am and happily hiked the broken out Zealand Road and Hale Brook Trail to Mount Hale's summit.  From here we would be breaking trail for the next eight hours over thirteen miles through one to two feet of snow with higher drifts in spots.
- While breaking trail is nothing new for any of us, what made the day extra challenging and exhausting were the several miles of trees that were so heavy with snow that they were bent over across the trail.  To navigate through these sections we spent a lot of time knocking ice and snow off of trees, then snaking around the trees slowing our progress considerably.
- However, we were rewarded handsomely with some of the most incredible undercast I have ever seen, second only to a Presi Traverse from December of 2014 (Trip Report). 
- Views from Guyot, West Bond, and Bond were incredible.  We caught sunset from Bond and hiked in the twilight along the Bondcliff Ridge while a sea of clouds floated everywhere below 4,000 feet as far as the eye could see.
- We all took turns breaking trail and knocking the stunted growth pines free of snow and ice.  It was a total team effort and impressive to watch everyone break trail and route find in places where the trail corridor would basically disappear in a maze of bent over trees.
- We finally hit a broken trail at the last water crossing of the Bondcliff Trail, a much welcome sight, we still had seven miles to the car but at least we wouldn't have to route find in the dark.  This made hiking much easier and we were able to cover the last seven miles in under two and a half hours finishing just after 8PM .
- What an incredible day, spent with an easy going, strong, and energetic group!

Near Zeacliff on the Twinway.  From here Leah did a great job route finding through a section were many start going the wrong way

 Jason heads up the Twinway

Leah with Hale behind her

Hiking towards Zealand

Breaking above treeline on North Guyot

 Looking at the undercast surrounding Mount Carrigain

Presidential Range

Guyot and West Bond

Todd taking it all in

Mount Washington, Monroe, and Eisenhower

Mount Carrigain

West Bond

Jason taking in the incredible views

Southwest Twin and Garfield


Todd hikes to the almost buried Bondcliff Trail junction

 South Twin

Bondcliff slowly emerging from the undercast

Bondcliff as seen from West Bond

Franconia Ridge and Mount Garfield

Mount Garfield

Taking pics from West Bond

The group enjoys the views from West Bond

Looking to the north  

 Presidential Range

Presidential Range 

Looking back towards Zealand Mountain

Bondcliff Ridge

Hancock Range

West Bond and Franconia Ridge 

Sea of undercast in the Pemi Widlerness 

 Heading to Bondcliff

Bondcliff Ridge

 Hancock Range

Twilight hike to Bondcliff

Bondcliff Ridge

Goodnight Pemi!


  1. And this is the real winter. Not what I have now :(
    Beautiful pictures, as always.

    1. Yes, we are very lucky to have winter arrive early here in the Whites. Hope it comes your way soon enough!

  2. Great report and stunning photos.

    1. Thanks, JB. Glad to hear you liked the report and pics :)

  3. Fantastic photos & report, really captured the amazing day that it was in WMNF! Woohoo!

    1. Thanks Eric, hopefully there will be a few more undercast day like this over the next few months!

  4. Wow, awesome trip report Chris. The photos were amazing to look at. That a strong group of hikers and cool to hear they are all easy going.

    I finally got my first undercast in September on the classic Lincoln and Lafayette loop on a Friday night. The best part was I only saw about 20 hikers on the way up to Little Haystack, then sat a few hundred feet below Lafayette watching the sunset by myself. It was surreal having the ridge basically to myself.

    1. Always appreciate your comments, Matt. Thanks :)

      Your twilight / sunset undercast on the ridge sounds like a great experience. Hopefully you'll have a few more like those in the future!