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 Epic 3 day/8 Peak/45 mile Trip to Bonds, Twins, Jackson... 
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Flatfoot
Flatfoot

Joined: Sun Jan 26, 2014 10:24 am
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Location: Vermont
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 Epic 3 day/8 Peak/45 mile Trip to Bonds, Twins, Jackson...
Day 1: We (Fiddlehead and I) got up early to hit Jackson on the way to our hike into Zealand hut. Despite the minus 20 reading on the drive over, it was only about minus 10 when we started up Jackson. Trail was hardpacked (we used snowshoes, but you could do it in micros) and easy – up and back in 2.5 hours with NO wind on top and amazing views. Barely above zero by the time we got back to the car. We wasted no time and headed over to the parking for Zealand road. We loaded up our overnight gear and headed out with heavy packs to the hut. It’s a nice easy walk on the truck road (3.4 miles) and another 2.8 to the hut – we arrived a bit before 4pm but luckily we were the only guests until another gentleman arrived, so Beowulf lit the fire for us. It was quite cold, so even with the wood stove, it was cold in the hut and our bunkroom was about 15 degrees. Good thing I had a new Western Mountaineering 5 degree bag – it was great! Our main agenda was the Bonds and the Twins (if we felt strong enough) so we were up very early and hiking by 5:30am (not easy to get out of a warm sleeping back when it’s COLD). Did I mention I'm not a morning person?

Luckily I was half asleep and we used headlamps for the first 2 miles so I didn’t notice how uphill it was to get to Zealand (quick .1 spur) from the hut. You have some climbing! We were treated to a great sunrise near Carrigain Mountain. As we approached Guyot we were buffeted by wind so donned balaclavas and facemasks to cross. West Bond was easier than I remembered (mostly flat and then a steep .3 or so to summit) and had amazing views. A little deeper snow between Guyot and West Bond – we used snowshoes all day although between Bond and Bondcliff you would be fine with micros. After descending West Bond, we headed up Bond – that is a BIG mountain and I felt like we climbed it twice (it’s steeper from the other side). Very windy on Bond, but amazing views. As we descended towards Bondcliff, the wind let up and we had a beautiful walk to Bondcliff. If that isn’t the nicest stretch in the White Mountains, I don’t know what is – great views to the Lafayette Ridge, and of course back to West Bond and Bond, plus half of the other Whites!! We took time to climb the rocks and play around a bit on Bondcliff before heading UP to Bond again (this climb took a bit out of me).

By noon we were back to the Twinway junction and had to decide if we had the energy to do the Twins. I could feel a few hotspots but since I felt strong, we decided to go for it. The Twins add 6.6 miles (and then you still have 4.2 from the junction) making this a 21 mile day (and close to 6000 feet of elevation gain). Everything had been well tracked but the Twinway had some deeper snow and few tracks as most hikers approach the Twins from the other side, hit South and go back. The hike is beautiful through the woods towards South Twin, but the ascent was steep! Very windy again on South Twin as we looked towards North which looked very far away and quite far down. We headed down the ridge/col towards North and then climbed back up to South. By this time, I had my first attack of blister issues in winter hiking. I guess 11 miles the day before a 21 mile hike is not a great idea and I wore thicker socks the first day (because of the cold) which caused/exacerbated the problem. All I can say is the walk back was painful, excruciating in parts. From the Twinway back to the hut is about 4.2 miles and I limped almost the whole way with stabbing pain. Kind of cool to see sunrise and sunset almost in the same spot on the trail. 12.5 hours later, we made it back to the hut and were greeted by the 24 new guests who brought a LOT of great food! They couldn’t have been nicer and offered us some home brewed beer (which we took them up on). Thanks to them and to the Canadian couple who gave me foot care supplies and tips - I spent the night draining blisters and nursing my feet.

The next morning, we loaded up and hiked out (temps were finally warmer) and decided to do one final mountain (Tecumseh) despite the fact that my feet were not in good shape. I was praying we wouldn’t find a parking spot so I could have a graceful way out, but as luck would have it, even with thousands of cars, we found a spot about 30 feet from the trail head. My feet had several blisters (the worst was on my big toe) and snowshoes hurt too bad so I opted for spikes even though I would have preferred snow shoes. Though Tecumseh is only 2.5 up, it seemed steeper than I remember in summer, maybe because we were on mile 40-45 of our trip. Trails were well packed and we saw many hikers sledding down. Up in 1.5, down in 1 hour. For once my legs felt pretty good, but I wish I could say the same for my feet. But now that I’m home, I’m proud of us for sticking with our plan and hitting these amazing peaks in a 3 day blitz - 45 miles of winter hiking but trails WERE in perfect shape. Conditions were perfect. Some of the best views of all times. The Bonds are just awesome.

You can see some of the great views, especially in the Bonds, here:
https://plus.google.com/photos/11725...Kvr36y5numdtgE


Sat Mar 08, 2014 11:35 pm
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Sovereign Woodsman
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Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:56 pm
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Location: Canaan, NH
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Way to bag a bunch of peaks in just a few days! The blisters will just make it that much more memorable. :wink:

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Sun Mar 09, 2014 2:39 pm
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Flatfoot
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Joined: Sun Jan 26, 2014 10:24 am
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Location: Vermont
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I would prefer the memories to be about the views more than about my poor feet!


Sun Mar 09, 2014 3:05 pm
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Hiking Forums Are My Crack
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Joined: Wed Apr 14, 2010 8:37 pm
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Location: Exeter, NH
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Quite the trip. Definitely one of the two or three best walks in the Whites. Only the Franconia Ridge and a Northern Presi traverse of one kind or another can equal it in my book. Funny you mention the trails were in PERFECT shape, since we don't even have a snowshoe regulation here in NH. It's usually only the easier/shorter hikes that get chunked up if anything.

And unfortunately the pictures don't work. But maybe that's just me.


Sun Mar 09, 2014 4:23 pm
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Flatfoot
Flatfoot

Joined: Sun Jan 26, 2014 10:24 am
Posts: 23
Location: Vermont
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try this - I clicked on it and it worked:
https://plus.google.com/photos/11725249 ... 6y5numdtgE

overall I've found the Whites way more tracked in winter than the ADK but it also snowed more over there this year!


Sun Mar 09, 2014 5:20 pm
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Hiking Forums Are My Crack
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Joined: Wed Apr 14, 2010 8:37 pm
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Location: Exeter, NH
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HP Queen wrote:
try this - I clicked on it and it worked:
https://plus.google.com/photos/11725249 ... 6y5numdtgE

overall I've found the Whites way more tracked in winter than the ADK but it also snowed more over there this year!


Thanks. It worked. Very nice pics, especially the sunrise one.

And FWIW I find the Whites more tracked and traveled too, at least the 4K's, but Whiteface has received 106 inches of snow this season, Cannon has 132 so far.


Sun Mar 09, 2014 6:42 pm
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Flatfoot
Flatfoot

Joined: Sun Jan 26, 2014 10:24 am
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Location: Vermont
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Wow! Interesting to think about! More snow on the way this week!


Sun Mar 09, 2014 10:54 pm
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Flatfoot
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Joined: Wed May 23, 2012 3:03 pm
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Location: Bradford, MA
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Awesome hike(s)!


tomhikesthewhites.blogspot.com

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Thu Mar 13, 2014 7:56 am
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