|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||Mt. Hale, Zealand Mountain, Mt. Guyot, West Bond, Mt. Bond, Bondcliff, NH|
||Zealand Road, Hale Brook Trail, Lend-A-Hand Trail, Twinway, Zealand Spur, Bondcliff Trail, West Bond Spur, Lincoln Woods Trail|
|Date of Hike:
||Sunday, April 7, 2019|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||Stashed a car at the LW trailhead and parked at the lot a short walk east of Zealand Road on 302 |
||Dry Trail, Snow - Packed Powder/Loose Granular, Wet/Slippery Rock, Standing/Running Water on Trail, Snow/Ice - Frozen Granular, Snow/Ice - Monorail (Stable), Snow - Wet/Sticky, Snow/Ice - Monorail (Unstable), Snow/Ice - Postholes |
||Snowshoes, Light Traction |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||Several water crossings on the last section of the Bondcliff trail toward the end of the hike. Most were shallow enough to walk across or easily rock hop. One small stream crossing required a little more thought but was still shallow enough to walk/rock hop across in our winter boots. |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||Saw a few spiders and flies. The snow on the Bondcliff trail was covered with some sort of tiny, black dots that up close looked like insect larvae. |
|Lost and Found:
||We started our hike by headlamp at 4am. From the start all the way up to Hale and down to the Zealand Hut, the snow was very firm, the trail was wide open and easy to follow, and spikes were perfect. We took a short break and filled up on water at the hut. The hut caretaker ominously warned us that the trail would be hard to find around Guyot.|
The trail was well packed and spikes were again fine up to Zeacliff, and we took in the views along with a family who had hiked up from the hut. We continued on toward Zealand in spikes, but started to posthole with increasing frequency as the snow was getting softer and less packed. We gained the Zealand ridge and continued on before the footprints on the trail completely stopped. While switching into snowshoes in preparation to break trail, Snowflea hiked past us coming from a Hale-Zealand bushwhack. At this point, blazes were often buried so finding the trail without footprints or frequently checking GPS was tough, so we were thankful to be able to follow her tracks to the Zealand summit.
Breaking trail from Zealand to Guyot was very slow going. Though there are unburied blazes every now and then, the trail wasn't obvious and almost all human footprints had faded away. We ended up doing a lot of bushwhacking and tree wrestling. Eventually, we reached Guyot and were rewarded to breathtaking 360 views of the Presidential Range, the Bonds, and the rest of the Pemi Loop.
We switched to spikes for the above treeline section around Guyot, but should have just stuck to snowshoes since we quickly had to switch back once we descended back into the trees down the Bondcliff trail toward the Bonds. Bushwhacking to West Bond was a miserable slog through dense trees. Though the views were great, we quickly left and went back the way we came.
Hiking to Mt. Bond and Bondcliff was refreshingly fast and easy. We switched back to spikes for the ridge hike over to Bondcliff because it was a mix of mostly bare rock and some slushy snow.
The hike down from Bondcliff was another miserable experience. The trail was easy to follow but the relatively warm temperatures had degraded it to unstable monorail. We were greatly slowed by frequent postholing in the soft snow all the way until we reached the Lincoln Woods trail, even after switching to snowshoes. There were several small stream crossings on the Bondcliff trail that were awkward to cross in snowshoes and we were thankful to have high winter boots.
We ended up finishing in ~19 hours, five hours past book time. We were roughly on pace for book time until the Zealand summit and didn't stop to rest for all that long, so we think we lost a LOT of time breaking trail and bushwhacking to Guyot and West Bond. We were also much slower than anticipated carefully descending down the unstable monorail from Bondcliff to LW. RIP good winter hiking conditions.
Disclaimer: Reports are not verified - conditions may vary. Use at own risk. Always be prepared when hiking. Observe all signs. Trail conditions reports are not substitutes for weather reports or common sense.