Hiking Trail Conditions Report
Peaks Zealand Mountain, Zeacliff, NH
Trails: North Twin Trail, herd path, bushwhack, Zealand Spur, Twinway, Zeacliff Loop, Zealand Trail
Date of Hike
Date of Hike: Monday, October 11, 2021
Parking/Access Road Notes
Parking/Access Road Notes: The North Twin trailhead was full when we arrived at 8:45am so we parallel parked at the base of the lot. Zealand lot still had a spot or two available just shy of 8:30am. The lot overflowed during the day such that some cars were parked in a small, grassy lot a short ways below the main lot when we returned at the end of our day.  
Surface Conditions
Surface Conditions: Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant, Leaves - Significant/Slippery 
Recommended Equipment
Recommended Equipment:  
Water Crossing Notes
Water Crossing Notes: All the crossings we did were readily rock hopable but we took the herd path to bypass the first two crossings as the first one didn’t look easily rock hopable. People were crossing it easily enough but the one group we saw do so took off their shoes. I imagine it’s similar conditions today and tomorrow before the heavier rain Saturday night.  
Trail Maintenance Notes
Trail Maintenance Notes: North Twin Trail isn’t blazed until immediately before the first water crossings. Then it is blazed in yellow. Since we took the herd path on the left and left the trail shortly after the third crossing, I’m not so sure we saw much of it though. The trail is very easy to follow and the herd path is very followable by someone with some experience as well although it isn’t marked.  
Dog-Related Notes
Dog-Related Notes: Don’t recall if we saw any but I wouldn’t recommend the boulder field for dogs; too loose and treacherous. The Little River whack would be fine for them if you trust them to stay with you. The rest of the hike would be okay for most dogs used to hiking.  
Bugs: None 
Lost and Found
Lost and Found: I lost a set of poles somewhere between the top of the boulder field and the summit. I’d attached them to my pack partway along the boulder field and was checking occasionally to make sure they were still attached when back in the woods but at one point they weren’t. I retraced my steps a ways but no luck :(  
Comments: My 11th 4000 footer this month out of 24 needed. Gridded out Zealand. Beautiful day for it.

A quick walk in North Twin Trail and the herd path before the third river crossing which we crossed, followed the trail a short distance until it turned away from the Little River and we began our whack at about 2450ft. In short order we came to what seemed like an old railroad grade and/or herd path which we followed along for maybe 1/3mi. We weren’t always following something distinguishable but it was generally easy whacking. After about 1/3mi we came to a white spot shown on my Gaia app which means an open area. I was hoping this may be the logging camp but we didn’t find one. Just perhaps a particularly “open” or wider area of the river. This was around 2550ft. This may have been the section (if not shortly thereafter) where we found a little fire pit/campsite. I don’t think it was far from the actual trail in fact. We didn’t look around but didn’t find any logging artifacts so I doubt that this was the old logging camp I’ve heard of.

At this point, the terrain became more side-hilly and thicker alongside the river so it was time to climb up to what I hoped would be a flat shelf sitting above the river. We had to go up steeply through some thick stuff with many blowdowns to get there but we soon found nice, flat woods to continue our whack through at about 2600ft. We then foolishly got pulled uphill for a brief time by the drainage of the ravine east of North Twin where southeast slide is. We didn’t notice any old blaze/flagging as others had around this drainage leading up to the slide. I don’t remember a distinct herd path here either although we often felt we were on/off herd paths and/or the old trail throughout much of this whack alongside the Little River.

Once realizing our mistake, we crossed the drainage, and contoured some and also making our way slightly downhill back toward the river at 2750ft. The next section was quick going as we had good woods and soon found what must’ve been the route of the old trail. Very quick moving along that herd path. Of course it disappeared into hobblebrish or blowdowns at times but we usually found it again pretty quickly. We wondered if we were traveling a bit too far above the river earlier and if we could’ve followed this path sooner had we stayed closer to it. We made great time through this mile or this next mile plus along the river until about 3000ft where the path disappeared seemingly for good and the woods got thicker. There were many points along this part where we came to fairly open areas, and, given the herd path through them, felt as if this should’ve been the logging camp but we never saw any artifacts. We didn’t go around looking as we figured they’d be easy to see. I wonder where the logging camp was...

Anyway, once things got thick around 3000ft, we soon made our way down to the river again, fighting through some thick for stuff and following a drainage not shown on Gaia down into it before crossing. Of course this thickness coincided with the transition of the woods from more hardwoods to softwoods. This was just before the other drainages come into the river that drain the ravine east of South Twin. Crossing here was not difficult. Easier than the crossings further north along the river on North Twin Trail. Once on the other side of the river, I got out my compass for the first time as I figured this would be a helpful time to have a bearing. I took one that would take us to the base of the slide in the lower left hand corner of it (northwest corner). We began whacking up through the woods trying my best to slab and not go straight up the grade. For once, I was successful in doing this. The woods were okay in this section. Some blowdowns and of course you’re basically walking on a sidehill. I set my waypoint for the blue overlay on Gaia that usually goes slightly beyond the white area which seems to mean “open area”like a slide. I figure the blue meant some sort of transition and figured that would be good to aim for. We ended up coming out in the white though which was fine as what the blue area shown on Gaia below us seemed thick. The woods got worse of course as we approached the slide and the thought “aren’t we there yet?” crossed my mind many times.

We finally pushed our way out onto the slide and enjoyed great views and a little break before tackling the slide. We contoured along the base of the slide as it wasn’t tall at all here until finding a tongue of it that went further uphill. In other words, the slide is very wide but only tall in certain places. I knew this slide may be more difficult and scary to me than others I’d done but I’d say I still underestimated it. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and was very slow going for me. It is a boulder field but the boulders are generally larger than those of the northern Presidentials and thus there are gaps between them such that getting from one oddly shaped boulder to the next took some care. I would compare it to Ice Gulch Trail which was, at the very least, one of the hardest trails for me to redline. When it comes to T-25(ish) trails, everyone seems to have their strengths and weaknesses. For example, some hate slab, others loose scree, others boulder scrambling. I’m in the latter category which is what made the trek up this slide unnerving for me. Comfortable on the northern presi boulder piles, but this is like that on steroids.

Once traversing across the boulder field, we started to make our way up. This changed things a bit as we now occasionally came to smaller rocks as well which were of course looser which added a different type of concern. At times, it seemed like no matter what you stepped on moved, although I came to realize that the movement was minimal and didn’t at all indicate that I was about to start a rock slide ;P The slide narrowed and you either had to make your way up this area which I suppose I’d describe as a “wide chute” to the top of this tongue of the slide or bypass it through thick scrub. This chute looked steep but pretty doable looking up at it. The chute is made up of a more reddish sort of rock than the gray boulders we’d been on. It is very loose and I found it quite unnerving once on it. I took my time, and, like I said, it pushed me a bit out of my comfort zone. This section was solid Class III climbing. The boulder field below would probably be considered Class II.

Once at the top of this red chute of sorts, we could either continue straight through scrub or head left to another boulder field. We chose the latter. More smaller rocks than before so very loose. We went up parallel to each other on opposite sides of some scrub so as to not be in each other’s fall zones. I suppose that this if there were an area of the whites with non-technical climbing where you’d still want a helmet, this would be it.

We finally made it to the top of the slide and entered the scrub. Nasty going for a bit but it soon got better of course although the woods were still generally thick. A bit of a whack to the summit (1/4-1/3mi?) with some “peek-a-boo” views through the trees along the way. We popped out onto the summit around 3:30pm, took a short break, then made our way down, running into a handful of people/groups. We enjoyed the trek between Zealand and Zeacliff as I always do but from there to the hut is not so fun with steep, rocky, slick terrain. They finally put in the new bog bridges above the water just above the Zeacliff Spur that had been sitting just off trail near a local high point shortly beyond Zeacliff for years. We took the side trip to Zeacliff as my friend had never been there. Fantastic views as always.

The hut didn’t seem too busy. We enjoyed the mostly flat walk out Zealand Trail passing by the beautiful meadows. No moose seen!  
Name: Liam Cooney 
Date Submitted
Date Submitted: 2021-10-15 
Link: http:// 
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