It was time for me to have some better luck so I planned on a hike of Zealand and the Bonds. The plan was to get some sleep that Saturday and meet at Lincoln Woods Trail at around 10:00. Needless to say I (or anyone else I hiked with) managed to get any sleep before the hike. We were far too excited! Once we spotted a car, all six of us and our gear crammed into one car to drive over to Zealand Road.
We geared up and hit the trail at 11 pm. The parking area even had snow.
Being a Saturday night people had already packed out the newer snow. The temperature was perfect (low to mid 30's) and the sky was clear.
With a point and shoot, I was not able to capture the beauty of the trail. In the distance you could see the outlines of mountains under a sky of stars. It was a peaceful night to be out.
Not long after our hike began we heard a huge splash in the pond on the right. We all paused and contemplated what it was. Our guesses ranged from moose to bullfrogs. After talking to some people, I am fairly certain it was a beaver splashing its tail. Being almost midnight, we could not see who it was!
After just over two hours of hiking, we made it to the Zealand Hut. I expected this to take longer because of the snow and the fact we were hiking by headlamp. I planned on being on Mt. Bond for sunrise so we needed to slow down our pace or we'd be hanging out in the cold!
Brenda's headlamp was purple so I had some fun with it!
We were approaching one of our expected challenges of the night- a ladder section past 2 am in November, most likely covered in ice.
It was actually easier than I thought it would be. The top two logs were covered in ice, but there was plenty to grab onto. At this point we still didn't need our microspikes.
I have done this traverse once before as a two day hike covering these peaks plus the Twins. Arriving at the summit of Zealand was familiar even in the darkness.
Once we made it to Zealand I wanted to eat something. I had a small snack at the hut, but not as much as I should have. We decided to stop for an early breakfast after summiting West Bond. We also put on our microspikes. There aren't really any spots to stop out of the wind so we decided to have our break right on the trail. That's one of the perks of hiking at night- you don't have to worry about being in the way!
The journey over to West Bond was very quiet. All six of us were focused and silent. Once we made it to the top we all agreed how exhausted we were. I've heard many times how beautiful the summit is, but you couldn't see much! On my last visit we were hailed on. I definitely need to pay West Bond another visit!
Even after having something to eat we were all absolutely worn. We tried to hike very slow to avoid being above treeline for too long before sunrise. While we did slow down, we still had a half hour extra not including the time needed to hike over to Bondcliff for sunrise.
We all sat down behind some rocks on the summit of Mt. Bond and took a power nap! It was pretty cold, but we all managed to reboot before the final stretch to Bondcliff. None of us actually slept, but just not moving for a little bit really helped to get our energy back up. When we were ready, we had a second wind to finish the last section of the hike before the descent.
Almost as soon as we left Bond we saw the horizon glowing red and orange. Sunrise was 6:45 and we planned to be on Bondcliff early enough to take it all in.
Brenda and I had a sunrise photo shoot, which is always the best kind the have. The sun was a terrific model!
|Bondcliff Summit Photo!|
After thoroughly enjoying the sunrise, we headed down. The beginning of the descent is very steep, but it really flattens out soon enough. Those that are familiar with the Lincoln Woods Trail know what I'm talking about!
A couple stream crossings were the only interesting features of the last leg of the hike. I have been fortunate enough to never have been on the entire length of this trail before. The last time I hiked the Bonds I ended at North Twin. Even the hike to Owl's Head wasn't that bad. This reminded us of two point perspective drawing where your road narrows but just keeps going forever. I spent my time thinking of ways to make this section more enjoyable in winter. We also discussed whether you would want to end a Pemi Loop here or begin it. We also tried to wrap our heads around people who jog this after a Pemi Loop!
Soon enough we were walking over the final bridge and ready to be greeted by our cars. We almost made it back without an issue. Of course the steps were closed! We tried to bypass the sign but it was all blocked off. Around we went.
We hiked a total of 19 miles that night. I was able to take an hour nap on the ride home, but didn't go back to bed until 9:00 that night. Besides a one hour nap, I had been up for 36 hours! It felt great getting into bed, but this was one of my favorite hikes. I'll definitely be doing some more sunrise hikes. Look out for one this winter!