|photo by Christopher Laplante|
My friend from New Mexico and I always go on a big trip each year. In the past we have gone to Alaska, Yellowstone, South Dakota and Montana. This year we set our sights on New England and it was up to me, as the New England native, to plan a trip. I instantly knew that a hike in the White Mountains was the best choice. We planned to hike Mount Bond, West Bond and Bondcliff from the Zealand trailhead. Although we did not reach our goal we still had a great hike in the whites.
Our original plan was to hike the easy 2.8 miles on the Zealand Trail to Zealand Hut, take the Twinway Trail 4.6 miles to the Bondcliff Trail, camp at the Guyot shelter, bag the bonds and retrace our steps out. The mileage was ambitious and the terrain was rough, but I knew it would be worth it since this route passes through some of the most beautiful and remote areas in the Whites.
The Zealand Trail starts out flat and scenic which makes for a great warm up. We passed through pristine forests and over boardwalks that skirted around a few ponds and swamps. The only climb on this section of trail was the last .2 miles to the hut. We took a break at the Zealand hut to take in some fresh mountain air and observe the last remnants of Fall foliage.
|Climbing on the Twinway|
The Twinway Trail begins relentlessly climbing immediately after the hut. We found all of the pitches to be steep, rocky and wet. We were still feeling fresh and were able to keep moving at about 2 mph. Just when we thought the climbing would never end, the Twinway trail emerges into a clearing with views that rewarded our efforts. From there we had only 2.9 miles to get to the Bondcliff trail.
The pitch remained rocky and steep as we headed up Zealand Mountain, there was even a wood ladder in one section. Once again our efforts were paid in full as we enjoyed beautiful views of Zeacliff Pond near the top of Zealand. We bypassed Zealand since the wooded summit is on a spur trail. From here the trail becomes more ridge like as we climbed the few hundred remaining feet to Mount Guyot.
Guyot might not be an official 4000 footer, but is worth the hike. One minute we were hiking in a thick alpine forests and the next we were on the completely exposed ridge leading to Guyot’s summit. The views from here rival anything in the whites. Not surprisingly, the wind was blowing and the temperature dropped significantly on the exposed ridge. We layered up and continued to the Guyot summit. We didn’t stay long as the daylight was fading and we wanted to secure a spot in the Guyot Shelter that was about half a mile away.
We reached the Guyot Shelter which was half full, surprising for a Monday, but we did not mind sharing. The Guyot Shelter is a 3 sided and 2 tiered shelter that sleeps 12. It is very popular because it is one of the few shelters in the Bonds region. We ate a warm meal, talked with our shelter mates, and got some well deserved sleep. We woke to see a beautiful sunrise peeking through the trees which inspired us to get on the trail as soon as possible. We needed to be home at a reasonable hour so we decided to bypass the Bonds and just head out the way we came in.
|photo by Christopher Laplante|
The climb up Mount Guyot seemed very familiar since we had descended it hours earlier. The view was good, wind was minimal and the temperature was very mild so we choose to spend some time enjoying the view from Mount Guyot. We also stopped by the wooded summit of Zealand on the way out. Even though there were no views it is always a good idea to bag a 4000 footer when you have the chance.
|On Zealand, the only view is the sign|
We found ourselves at the Woodstock inn and Brewery a few hours later. Even though we didn’t reach the bonds, we still enjoyed 16 + miles of White Mountain wilderness and some of the best views that I have seen in years; I can’t wait to go back!