I just got back from a very quick 1 night backpacking trip into the heart of the Pemigewasset Wilderness in the White Mountains. My final destination was a set of three 4,000 footers called the Bonds that include: Mt Bond, West Bond, and Bondcliff.
We’ve been having a run of magnificent, but cool weather recently, and I’d been having the urge to spend the night up here to see the stars at night. Despite several looming deadlines, I packed up and drove up north to get a backpacking fix.I haven’t had a night out for a few weeks and I needed to make the time.
It’s hard to describe the relief I feel after a brisk walk, a long sleep, and some challenging elevation. In total, I walked just under 20 miles, bagged six 4,000 footers, and climbed around 7,000 feet in the past two days. My mind is clear again and my body is buzzing.
The Bonds are always a challenging hike. I bagged all of them last year for the first time, doing the 22.6 mile / 4,800 foot elevation hike in one long summer day. But this year I wanted to savor them a bit more and spend the night at nearby Guyot campsite, just 0.5 miles north of Mt Bond and West Bond. If you know the campsite, I camped up top in the overflow area, which has a much better view of the stars at night than the platforms below Mt Guyot.
Once you get away from the lights of civilization, it’s amazing how many stars you can see. Couple that with a campsite 4,200 feet up and you’re in heaven. I first got hooked on viewing stars from the tops of mountains a few years ago on a winter backpacking trip, just a few miles away on Zealand mountain.
I slept in this morning and woke refreshed just after 8 am which is quite late for me. The morning was cool but very sunny, so I decided to break camp and eat my breakfast on top of West Bond, which ranks high as one of my favorite peaks in the Whites. The views of Franconia Ridge, Mt Garfield, South Twin, Guyot, and Bondcliff were grand.
One thing I noted on this trip were many new landslips, which looked quite recent. You can see three of these on Southwest Twin Mountain in the picture above, with the largest of the three on the right. I suspect these were caused by the rain from Hurricane Irene, which has had such a devastating effect on the area. Some of them are giant and I expect we’ll see some new avalanche activity in them this winter.
When I was planning this trip the other day, I completely forgot that I’d be walking along the Appalachian Trail most of the way. The AT snakes its way across the Whites over an existing trail network, so people seldom realize that it is the AT that they’re walking on.
This section is called The Twinway and it links Zealand Hut to Galehead Hut, climbing Zealand Mountain and South Twin along the way. The last time I’d hiked it was in 2009 when it was buried under about 4 feet of snow and ice. It was a lot rougher than I’d remembered it! Winter really changes the ways thing look up here.
The last time I climbed the Bonds, I’d hiked in from the northeast from the Lincoln Woods trailhead on the Kancamagus highway. On this trip, I took a different route, approaching the bonds from the Southeast and starting from the upper Zealand Road trailhead. This approach passes by Zealand Hut, which has a great view of the surrounding mountains from its front porch, and a waterfall just outside. I haven’t quite figured out which mountains those are in the distance but they sure are pretty.
I should take short hikes like this more often.