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 Spring vs. Winter on Bondcliff- 3/13/2015 
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Sovereign Woodsman
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 Spring vs. Winter on Bondcliff- 3/13/2015
The skies on Sunday, 3/13 were to be absolutely beautiful and clear, and I wanted to make it a point to hike something where I could take full advantage of that clarity. I suddenly remembered Bondcliff, which has IMO one of the best views in the Whites. I hadn't been there in almost two years, plus I hadn't done a really long hike in a long time, so off to Lincoln Woods I went!

I left the house around 8 AM and got to the trailhead at about 9:45 AM. Paid the $3, geared up, locked up, and hit the trail around 10 AM. The first 2.9 miles was on the Lincoln Woods Highway-err, Trail :wink: . Yea, we've all been there. The trail conditions were sheet ice with patches of bare ground thrown in. Fortunately, the temps were low to boot, so the ice was nice and solid. Passed the Black Pond Trail, then got to the "how many paces is 200 ft" sign. 77 steps this time :) . Eventually, I got to the bridge over Franconia Brook, the wilderness boundary, and ultimately the Bondcliff Trail junction, at around 10:55 AM. Onward on the Bondcliff Trail I went.

The first part of the Bondcliff Trail is basically an extension of LinWoods- long, flat, and straight. There was a brook crossing thrown in to make things interesting, though. Easily rock hopped. At about 11:30 AM, I got to the part of the Bondcliff Trail that actually climbed the mountain, 4.9 miles from the trailhead. 4.2 miles to go.

From the end of the flat part, the trail went up and down for a mile or so. Ground conditions varied from ice to dry ground to standing water to some nasty mud. It was here that I saw two fellow YouTube hikers heading down (recongnized them from their videos and the 4K forums). We talked for a bit and then parted ways. Eventually, I got to the first crossing of Black Brook; there were four crossings of this brook in total. The first was the most difficult, but I didn't have to wade it like the first time I came here. Rock hopped with care. After that, it was a straight shot to crossing #2, which was slightly less tricky. After that, it was a straight, Lincoln Woods-like grind to the 3rd crossing, which was the easiest one. Basically a step over. After #3, the trail made an S-turn and ascended the steepest slope of the whole hike, which was made harder due to slick ice :evil: . Made it up with care, then climbed gently to a more open, bowl-like section of trail, where a sliver of Bondcliff's summit could be seen. I then dipped down and made the 4th crossing of Black Brook.

Once past the last crossing, the trail was all spring snow- no bare ground until the summit. I ran into three more groups on this last grind- a group of three college students on spring break with no traction and minimal supplies and gear, two dudes who did all three Bonds and stayed overnight at Guyot shelter, and a group of two ladies who did all three Bonds as well. I hiked solo, but I wasn't totally alone :wink: . After some twists and turns, I made what seemed like a steep push to the scramble below the top. No snow, but quite wet. Got up it carefully, then did an about-face and saw incredible views! Made me push for the summit even harder. Eventually I did get there, around 1:30 PM, 3.5 hours after starting.

The hike up may have been meh, but the summit result was worth it IMO- crystal clear views in all directions, with most major peaks in the Whites visible. I could even see a sliver of some prominent Vermont mountain past Mt. Garfield. I'd like to say it's either Mansfield or Jay Peak, but I'm not 100% sure. Once at the top, I kicked back for a good 45 minutes just taking it all in and enjoying life. Doesn't get much better 8) .

Eventually, I knew I had to go back down. Started back to Lincoln Woods from the top at 2:25 PM. T'was a rather uneventful hike back down, but the trails were significantly more sloppy than before due to the sharp spike in temperature. What was hard, solid ice was mushy, soupy crap, and a lot of dry, crusty ground turned to straight up mud :x . Not much I could do, so I shrugged it off. Once back on LinWoods Trail, I decided to physically test myself and see it I could get from the summit to the trailhead in less than 3 hours. I did so partially by running portions of LW on the way back. Collectively, I ran almost a mile of it. It worked in my favor- I got back to the trailhead at 5:10 PM, 2 hours 45 min. after leaving the summit. Once on the road, I needed REAL food, so I stopped into Black Mountain Burger in Lincoln for a post-hike meal. Got 3 glasses of Pepsi, a 1/2 pound burger, and fries- sucked it all down in minutes 8) .

Ho-hum approach, but an incredible summit result. I would've attempted all three Bonds if I didn't get a late start, but at least I got one. Microspikes car to car. Crampons were serious overkill. I also didn't mention this in the intro to this TR, but this was my longest hike since June 2014, when I did Bondcliff and Bond via this same approach. Next time I come here, it will probably be to do Bond and West Bond from Zealand Rd. I still need a small 1/2 mile sliver of the Bondcliff Trail to call it redlined- specifically, the section between Bond and the West Bond Spur. If I can get a car spot, I'll do a traverse!

Roundtrip distance was 18.2 miles with 3,300 ft. of elevation gain, and it took 6 hours 15 minutes (not counting my summit break).

Here's the video recap: https://youtu.be/ZS-jts0Hkbc

_________________
NH4K: 48/48 (Completed 10/4/2014)
NE67: 67/67 (Completed 7/25/2016)
NE115: 74/115
NEFF: 31/50
NEHH: 75/100


Tue Mar 15, 2016 6:59 pm
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 Re: Spring vs. Winter on Bondcliff- 3/13/2015
"This video isn't going to be too long..." :lol:

Bondcliff Summit and Black Mountain Burger. Nice. The other 18.19 miles in spring slop, well, they'd have made me want to puke up the burger! :wink:


Tue Mar 15, 2016 8:01 pm
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Peak Bagger
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 Re: Spring vs. Winter on Bondcliff- 3/13/2015
Wow, nice report as usual!

Terry


Wed Mar 16, 2016 10:02 am
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Mountaineer
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 Re: Spring vs. Winter on Bondcliff- 3/13/2015
How was the ground at the junction. I know there is an old campsite around there. I have a buddy coming up that wants to do an overnight. 1 option was doing the same trail as you but then staying overnight at the base of Bondcliff Trail.


Tue Mar 22, 2016 7:39 am
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Sovereign Woodsman
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 Re: Spring vs. Winter on Bondcliff- 3/13/2015
RWills81 wrote:
How was the ground at the junction. I know there is an old campsite around there. I have a buddy coming up that wants to do an overnight. 1 option was doing the same trail as you but then staying overnight at the base of Bondcliff Trail.


At the time, it was about 50/50 as far as snow cover. I think you should be okay for an overnight- whatever snow was down there isn't much, especially now :)

_________________
NH4K: 48/48 (Completed 10/4/2014)
NE67: 67/67 (Completed 7/25/2016)
NE115: 74/115
NEFF: 31/50
NEHH: 75/100


Tue Mar 22, 2016 8:33 pm
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