The first day of fall was upon me. I was eager to do some hiking in NH during my favorite time of the year. I saw some color had taken to the trees a week earlier on Mt. Moriah, so after a week there was bound to be some more. I had a great hike to do that I was waiting for just the right time, and that time had arrived.
I was going to do a hike to Zealand Mountain, seeing Zeacliff as well, then go over Mt. Guyot to West Bond and Mt. Bond. It was a long hike, (around 19 miles RT) but one that had many rewards. I just needed to have the next day off of work because I would be tired, and it would be dumb to drive back to NJ after it.
I saw Monday looked to be a good day to go hiking, and I was off Monday night. The only problem was that I had work Sunday night, so how could I be in NH on Monday morning to go hiking, when I would be in NJ working Sunday night? The solution: call out of work Sunday night! What a brilliant idea, and it works every time.
So Sunday morning I start the drive from my house to Twin Mountain, NH where I would stay Sunday night. Twin Mountain is one of my favorite places to stay in NH. It's right in the heart of the White Mountains. It has numerous motels you could stay at, and plenty of places to eat. It's funny when I got there I went to this bar to eat, and the people inside were so glum. Nobody was saying a word. I was thinking to myself, what the heck is going on? It turns out they were watching a football game where the Dolphins were destroying the Patriots. It didn't bother me because I was indifferent to football, it was fall, and tomorrow I would finally get to see Mt. Bond!
Twin Mountain is great because they have a bagel store that opens early, so you can eat and get some coffee before you hit the trail. Believe me it's hard to find places to eat early in NH that are close to the trail. So I got some breakfast, and headed down the road to Zealand Road and the Zealand trail. The Zealand trail would be good because it's easy for the most part, allowing me to make some distance early, and wake up my muscles. Plus on the way back it would be good to take it easy after a day of going up mountains.
The Zealand trail goes through some nice forest early on before you come to these swamps and brook crossings. Early in the morning there were some great reflections on the water. It was still cloudy, but there was no wind, so the water was absolutely still. There was some red leaves every so often on the trees, which is what makes fall hiking in New England so great.
Zealand trail reflection
I made good time to the intersection with the Twinway trail, which brings you very quickly to Zealand falls and the Zealand Falls hut. At this point it was still sort of cloudy, so I took a little break at the hut which was coming to life. Now I would be going uphill, but there was a good first stop, and that was Zeacliff.
When I got to Zeacliff, the clouds were still obscuring the views. It would only be a matter of time before things would be clear, but I decided to press on as I had 3 mountains that I wanted to be on the summits of. I had to go back this way in any event, so things would look better when I returned. I went off to Zealand Mountain, which is in the woods, and has no views.
After Zealand Mountain you go to Mt. Guyot next, which is a favorite of many NH hikers, and for good reason. Mt. Guyot is open and provides some terrific views in all directions. The clouds had finally broken, and I was treated to some beautiful scenery. You walk through this scrub, but the trees are gone, and if you go on the Bondcliff trail, which I did, you have a nice walk on the mountain, out in the open.
on Mt. Guyot
I then had to descend, going into the col between Guyot and Mt. Bond/West Bond. I didn't know if I should go straight up Mt. Bond, and then hit West Bond on the way back, or if I should go up West Bond first. I was feeling the hike at this point, but overall I wasn't doing that bad. As soon as I get these two done, then the hard part would be over, for the most part, but it still was a hard part, know what I mean. At least that is what I thought.
up Mt. Guyot
I decided to go to West Bond first. It's a short side trip off the Bondcliff trail, but it is steep. I kept saying to myself, this is only like a mile, why is it so hard?! Maybe it wasn't so hard, and that it was quite a hike to just get there though that I was feeling. Once I got above the trees, well it certainly became worth it. The view was outstanding. The sun was shining over Mt. Bond and Bondcliff, but the view towards Franconia Ridge and South Twin was just awesome. It gave me energy to want to go to Mt. Bond, which didn't look like that bad of a hike from where I was.
I really wanted to reach the summit of Mt. Bond by noon, and that's more or less the time I reached it. I was very happy to be on the summit. It was a great hike of almost 5 hours! The only problem was I had to go back now. Well there would be the views on Mt. Guyot to see again, plus Zeacliff would be in the clear, and I wanted to see Zeacliff pond, and the falls again. It was going to be tiring, but it would still have its rewards and moments.
The hard part would be to go up Mt. Guyot again, and Zealand Mountain. Once I got to Zealand Mountain, well then it's all downhill. Plus once you get to the hut, you know the Zealand trail is easy going back to the car. Well it was sluggish going back up Mt. Guyot, but it had to be done. I was going to stay the night in Twin Mountain again, so I knew food and sleep wouldn't be that far away after it was all over, and that was a comfort on the hike back.
When I got to Zeacliff again, this time there were great views to greet me. You could see Mt. Washington in the distance, and the view towards Mt. Carrigain is just spectacular. I was the only person there. In fact I saw only one person on the entire hike, besides the hut, and that was in the col between Bond and Guyot. I kind of wanted someone to be there to take my picture, it would have been such a good shot. The peace and quiet was so nice though.
I headed back to the hut, and there was a note saying the staff was out. A couple had just arrived there to stay the night. I thought that this would be a great place to stay, but I had no money, and my plans were in Twin Mountain. There's such a great view from the hut, and the falls are right there too. Someday I would love to stay at that hut.
Zealand Falls hut view
After the Zealand Falls hut, it's still a couple of miles to the car, but the trail is great for walking on. The colors on the trees were pretty, and I was filled with a sense of accomplishment after a long day. It was my longest hike yet in NH, and it was one of the best. Everything was just right. I can always remember that time.