I’m not sure what possessed me, but I’ve been wanting to do a longer hike – something longer than a dayhike of 6 to 10 miles. This past weekend all the planets aligned: my husband could watch the children for two days, the weather was good, and I was able to get a hut reservation; so I chose to do the Pemi Loop. At 32 miles, the Pemi Loops is not exactly an easy hike, and is considered by some to be the second hardest loop hike in America due to the elevation gains/losses and terrain.
I did the loop in the clockwise fashion, by hiking up from the Lincoln Woods parking lot off Rt. 112, east of Lincoln and then going across the Franconia Ridge, to the Garfield Ridge to South Twin, to the Bonds and back to the Lincoln Woods parking area.
I started out by hiking up Mt. Flume via the Osseo trail the same way my husband and I did a few months ago. I made great time up to Mt. Flume, but when I came out of the scrub on Flume, the wind was strong, so I quickly skirted the trees and went down the other side. I continued on to Liberty, once again experiencing the wind and moving quickly into the trees. The ridge walk between Liberty and Little Haystack was really nice and I had never been on that portion of the Franconia Ridge trail. I could hear the wind in the trees before breaking out into the open at Haystack and knew that I had an open ridge walk until I got past Lafayette and into the woods headed toward Mt. Garfield. I ate half a sandwich and a snack, but became a little queasy. I figured this was because I was a bit nervous about the wind. I popped out into the open and was immediately hit with the wind, to the point where I sat next to a small group and asked if I could hike with them for a while – just for safety and a little confidence. They were super nice and since they were going over Mt. Lincoln to Mt. Lafayette, they said I could tag along. The wind was not as bad during certain parts of the ridge walk – I must have come out into the open in really bad spot.
After saying thank you and good bye to the group, and eating the other half of the sandwich, I hiked down from Mt. Lafayette towards Mt. Garfield. This was slow going as it was windy and I was trying to be careful. I made it to the trees and then ascended to Mt. Garfield.
I was still a little queasy by this point, but dried cranberries appealed to me. I ate some of those, and still had enough water, so I set out on the hike over to Galehead Hut, my stopping point for the day. I was becoming tired as the wind on the ridge had zapped a lot of my energy, and add to that the varied terrain of the Garfield Ridge Trail and it took me a little over three hours to get to Galehead hut. I was late for dinner, but everyone was still sitting around the tables and there was a pleasant welcome and dinner to be had. The soup was perfect – hot and just what I wanted after a long day. The hut crew prepared a great dinner, I enjoyed the company for a little bit, cleaned up, got some water and went to bed early.
I was hoping that by the next morning my stomach would feel better than the previous day. The breakfast was good and hearty, so I ate some oatmeal and had hot chocolate. To start the hiking portion of my day, I left my pack at the hut and did the quick hike up to Galehead, the summit being just .5 miles from the hut’s porch.
I felt better after being out in the fresh air, so I set off for South Twin. I knew this would one of the hardest ascents of the day, ascending 1100 ft. in 0.8 miles. Upon my arrival, I took a break, got some water and ate some of the gingerbread I’d saved from last night’s dinner for a little extra energy.
I then descended following the Twinway, over to the Bondcliff Trail. The ridgewalk over was very nice and fairly level so I was in better spirits. I descended on the Bondcliff Trail to the junction of the West Bond Spur and had planned to go over to West Bond. Considering that I starting to feel a little queasy again, after a snack and some water I decided not to go over the summit of West Bond, even though it was only 1 mile to the summit and back. I am sad that I had to leave that one behind, but at the same time I think I made the right decision. I knew I still had a long trek out and wanted to make sure I finished in good time.
Moving onward, I went over to the peak of Mt. Bond, where I prayed that I’d have some cell signal and be able to contact my husband. Thankfully, I did! I called home and gave him an update on how I was doing and when I expected to be home. I then hiked over to Bondcliff.
Bondcliff is rugged, but beautiful and visual treat for those who choose to go out there.
I made much better time on the descent than I thought I would, with a few more snacks and water to fuel me onward. By the time I got to the Wilderness Trail, with a little less than 5 miles of almost flat walking to the car, I was ready to be done and walked as fast as my tired legs, sore feet and God’s strength would take me.
I have very mixed feelings about this hike. I enjoyed the views, the satisfaction at looking back along the peaks and ridges that I hiked, bagged Garfield, Galehead, South Twin, Bond and Bondcliff, and learned a lot about myself and my God. I think I would have had more energy and enjoyed it a lot more had I been able to eat more substantial meals rather than snacking as much. I made sure I had water, and that is an important thing. Will I ever do this hike again? Right now, I don’t know. Was it such a bad experience that I will give up hiking forever? Absolutely not. I’m one peak away from halfway! Now I just need to figure out what to go hike for #24! I’m thinking I’ll take a little time off before tackling whatever that is, though.