Checking all the Boxes: Zealand and the Bonds, 7/18/14

This summer, I’ve had the pleasure to hike with Greg YEAH! and we’ve done some hikes this summer that work for both of us and our current hiking goals.  That revolves around bagging peaks and redlining.  Redlining is a good way to make a hike to somewhere familiar more interesting, by using new trails.  A few weeks ago, we hiked Whiteface and Pasaconaway and instead of descending Dicey’s Mill, we headed over on the Walden Trail, a bit of the Lawrence Trail and descended the Kelley Trail.  The Kelley Trail brings you right back to the parking area on Ferncroft Rd., but is certainly less traveled and does have a remote feeling. (That’s the trip report for that one;  I didn’t take too many pictures, so probably not a good blog post!)

Friday’s plans were for a trip to Zealand and the Bonds.  Between the two of us we needed some or all of the four peaks along the way (Zealand, West Bond, Bond and Bondcliff), and for variation and redlining purposes, we needed to hike Zeacliff Trail and the Zeacliff Pond Spur.  This would add a little extra mileage to the traditional traverse, but not too much, bringing the total to 21.1  miles.

Since there were two of us with cars, we had planned a car spot.  We also saw from Views on the Top, that another hiker, Keith needed a ride for the same hike.  We contacted him, but he already had another offer.  At least we were willing to help out!  Well, the strange thing in the hiking world is that they were meeting at Lincoln Woods at the same time we were.  By chance, his vehicle was large enough, and he offered US a ride up to Zealand!  Talk about some awesome trail magic, we wouldn’t have to do any extra driving at the end.

Super grateful, we arrived at Zealand and departed up the trail at a good clip, passing the Twinway junction and headed further along Ethan Pond Trail to the junction with Zeacliff Trail.  Although it was going to be a long hike, I knew that starting out a little quicker was a good thing.  For one, it was a bit chilly and we were in shorts and t-shirts.  Two, Zeacliff Trail has some short, but very steep sections, and I knew our pace would slow down.  The quicker start pace would help to keep our average speed on target.

Zeacliff trail departs from the Ethan Pond Trail, goes through a small talus field, back into the woods, then crosses Whitewall Brook, which today was a rock hop.  After the brook, the steep section started, lasting less than a half mile, it was still a good challenge.  Beyond .6 of a mile, the grade eased up and we were able to pick up the pace a bit.  There was only one more steep section left, with a bit of ledge scrambling, and that wasn’t all that bad, as I find the ledge scrambling fun and a nice change from following a dirt trail.  The grade became easier again, and soon we were at the Twinway, taking a left and heading toward Zealand.

Junction of Ethan Pond and Zeacliff Trail.  The Zeacliff Trail goes to the right, crossing some talus and re-entering the woods before heading up hill.

Junction of Ethan Pond and Zeacliff Trail. The Zeacliff Trail goes to the right, crossing some talus and re-entering the woods before heading up hill.

Whitewall Brook, taken during the crossing on Zeacliff Trail.

Whitewall Brook, taken during the crossing on Zeacliff Trail.

We had one more item to complete the redlining portion of our adventure, and that was the short .1 mile spur trail to Zeacliff Pond.  It is a nice little pond, with a view out to Carrigain.  We took a short break and were once again on our way, on to the peakbagging part of the adventure.

Zeacliff Pond, with a view out to Carrigain and Vose Spur.  This nice little pond is  only .1 down a spur trail from the Twinway.

Zeacliff Pond, with a view out to Carrigain and Vose Spur. This nice little pond is only .1 down a spur trail from the Twinway.

We moved along the Twinway and came to the Zealand Spur.  Due to our stop at Zeacliff Pond, we leapfrogged Keith and Larry for a bit and met them at the Zealand Spur.  We all did the quick hike in and out to visit the summit and were back on our way.  For the rest of the day, we’d stay ahead of them, but just barely until Bondcliff, where we saw them last from a distance.

Zealand summit with the unique sign.

Zealand summit with the unique sign.

From Zealand, it was business as usual, dropping into the col, and then hiking up to Guyot and the Bondcliff junction.  It was a bit windy going over Guyot, but we put on a layer and had a short break anyway at the big summit cairn.  Back down in the woods, the layers came off, not to be used again.  In the open spots it was windy, but just not quite cold enough to bother with taking on and off layers.  Actually, it was really nice hiking weather and was a perfect above treeline day with sunshine and blue sky!  We continued up and then over to West Bond, and then up to Bond and over to Bondcliff.  With the physically hard part of the hike over, we took a good break on Bondcliff to prepare for the mentally hard part of the hike:  the 9 mile walk back to the cars!

Franconia Ridge from the summit of Guyot.  Nice day to be above treeline!

Franconia Ridge from the summit of Guyot. Nice day to be above treeline!

One last look back to West Bond (on the left, under the cloud) and Bond (on the right) before leaving our break spot on Bondcliff.

One last look back to West Bond (on the left, under the cloud) and Bond (on the right) before leaving our break spot on Bondcliff.

Then it was the descent and walk out.  It was just one foot in front of the other for 9 miles, and if you’ve ever hiked from Bondcliff to Lincoln Woods, you know how it is!  It isn’t the most exciting trail, but it does get you back to your car.  Which is exactly what we did, and in about three hours after leaving Bondcliff, we were back at Lincoln Woods.

For such a long trek, we had a good day!  The weather was great, and we were blessed to be able to enjoy it safely and had the added bonus of a little trail magic at the beginning of the day.

Special Thanks to Greg YEAH! for a great day, keeping us on pace for a good finish!  Special Thanks to Keith for the ride in the morning!

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