Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Square Ledge (52WAV). September 9, 2014

9 miles roundtrip with 1200-ish feet of elevation gain.
Oliverian Brook Trail, Square Ledge Branch Trail, Square Ledge Trail, Passaconaway Cutoff Trail.

The girls and I needed an easy hike today.  We've been burning the candle at both ends lately.  Alex and Sage's homeschooling schedule is (too) full this fall, and finding the right balance has been difficult.  We're all may take another couple of weeks before we're able to ease the juggling act.  Homeschooling, you see, doesn't entail staying home all day.  The girls have a multitude of extracurriculars and a slew of challenging classes at various institutions this year.  It's all good, but we're still settling in to the routine.  We therefore chose Square Ledge for today's hike. Sage needed it for the 52WAV, and it's quick and easy enough that we had time to take a nap afterward.

This was, for the most part, a flat trek.  The trail becomes steep right at the Ledge, but the climb is only a few tenths of a mile long.  Once up on the Ledge, there are multiple viewpoints if you wander through the trees a bit.

I'll let the photos do most of the talking for the rest of this report.

At the beginning of Oliverian Brook Trail, right off Route 112...

Starting on a gravel/dirt road...

Veering into the woods...

This was, for the most part, a flat hike...

Entering the Sandwich Range Wilderness...

Finally heading upward, at the base of Square Ledge...

Views through the trees on the way up...



More up...

More views!

We found the boulder that leads to the best views...

Below, Sage stands safely on a path that leads to a gorgeous bit of scenery.  You have to be careful here...walk too far to the left or right, and down you'll go...there are drop-offs on either side of us.

If you're VERY careful, you can walk onto that ledge and hang out where the boulder is a bit wider.

We lounged, we ate, we headed down.

Arriving back at the gravel/dirt road...

Reaching the trailhead --

 Congratulations, Sage! Only two more 52WAV hikes to go!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Bonds Traverse (Zealand, Guyot, West Bond, Bond, and Bondcliff). September 5, 2014

Zealand, Twinway, Bondcliff, Wilderness, and Lincoln Woods trails.
19.5 miles with 3700 feet of elevation gain.

Our first one-day Zealand-Bonds traverse!

On August 27, we finished hiking the John Muir Trail.  We did the trail in 18 hiking days with 4 days of rest.  Since we're still in JMT-hiking shape (14 - 18 miles per day), we figured we may as well go for a single day Bonds traverse sooner rather than later.  A month from now, after we're back to normal life and no longer cranking out the daily miles, we might not be able to do 20-mile days all that easily.

Many thanks to our friend John for joining us on this one -- we had a fantastic day.  We met at 5:30am at Lincoln Woods, spotted a car, and drove to to Zealand Road in Crawford Notch.  We had boots on the Zealand Trail around 6:30am.

The 2.8 mile walk to Zealand Hut is flat and scenic.  I always enjoy this bit of trail -- it's a nice warm-up, and the ponds are lovely.

We reached the final, steep bit to the hut within an hour of leaving the car.

The guests were eating breakfast when we arrived.

We used the bathroom facilities, filled our water bottles, and tackled the steep 1.2 miles to the viewpoint by Zeacliff.

Onward, 1.6 additional miles to Zealand.

The best part of Zealand is the wooden sign.

Guyot was next.  The 1.3 miles between Zealand and Guyot felt long and overly rocky.

It's all worth it, however, when one considers the glorious views at the end of the green tunnel.

Looking toward Guyot

Southwest Twin is directly in front of us.

In the little wooded section
just before the final push up Guyot.

Guyot!  We took a quick snack-and-water break and admired the scenery.

Bond and West Bond
Onward, to West Bond!  We descended into the woods, then re-ascended a few tenths of a mile until we reached the intersection with the West Bond spur trail.

From the spur, it's an easy half mile to the summit.

Congratulations, Alex -- only two more Trailwrights peaks to go!


I broke out the Werther's butterscotches and my homemade White Butterscotch cookies.  Both desserts fit the bill for West Bond's Dessert (on the 48).

We lounged for half an hour or so in spite of the swarms of Unidentified Flying Things buzzing about our heads.  The winged critters didn't bite, but they did continually run into our bodies.  We were able to hang about and enjoy the gorgeous day nonetheless.

Eventually, we moved Bond, where we ate store-bought Brownie Bites and enjoyed even more gorgeous views.


Bondcliff was next --

West Bond

Fifth summit of the day -- Bondcliff!

Views galore...

Butter Cookies on Bondcliff!

We ate a while, tried to ignore the weird flying things, and enjoyed each other's company.  Life was good.

Our descent was routine, though the girls are now far too quick for me.  They had to stop and wait more times than I care to admit.  They showed no signs of tiring or slowing down, and I worry we have reached the point where I'm holding them back.  I'd like them to reach their full potential in fast, long-distance hiking, and I fear they will not be able to do that with their mom in tow.  The tables have turned -- the weak link of our team is now me.  The girls are growing into tweens and teens and they're stronger and faster by the day, while I'm growing into my mid-to-late-40s and slowly-but-surely deteriorating.  Ah well, such is life.  This is the natural order of things, I suppose.

Usually, the walk out via Lincoln Woods is monotonous and boring; it's five-ish flat miles of straight and unchanging trail.  On this day, however, the path passed quickly beneath our feet.  John was excellent company -- the presence of friends makes everything easier!

As we neared the final tenth of a mile, Alex and Sage broke into a run.  Their legs were strong and they showed zero signs of fatigue.  We finished our hike 11 hours after leaving my car.

Alex and Sage ended their hike happy and proud of themselves.  Both now want to attempt a Presidential traverse.  We won't have time for that this fall, but it's definitely a possibility for next summer.

Two more Trailwrights peaks to go!  Only three more 52WAV hikes left!  Woo-hoo!  Hope to finish both lists by the end of October.