|The Pemi Loop over Bondcliff|
I left Portland at some ungodly hour and made it to the Lincoln Woods Trailhead at around 7:00 in the morning. This is approximately 3 hours later than when most people start the Pemi Loop... call me lazy. The parking lot was a hilarious scene. The thing about the Pemigewasset Wilderness is that you simply cannot get to anywhere without hiking less than 15 miles. So this parking lot is basically an olympic arena of ultramarathon runners, thru-hikers and other endurance athletes. In fact, I was the wimp because I was doing this in 2 days, not one. I chuckled over this as I hit the trail.
|The Pemigewasset River|
The Bondcliff trail followed and was a 4.1 mile ascent up to the 4,265ft summit. It was steep but much gentler by White Mountain standards. In the first half there were a couple of water sources if you need to fill up but there's nothing from there to the Guyot Shelter. Still, the hike up all three bonds is most people's favorite part of the Pemi Loop since it is the least crowded and most wild.
|Everybody loves the Bonds!|
After coming down West Bond, I hit up the Guyot Shelter which is the only opportunity for water for 5 rough miles (or more if you're doing North Twin and Zealand!). The Guyot Shelter had a stream which was barely running (as of 7/22/12) so check local trip reports for intel before going! The bare summit of Mt Guyot, 4,588ft, is just beyond the shelter.
From here, I decided to drop my pack and quickly tag the summit of Mt Zealand, 4,260ft. This is not traditionally part of the Pemi Loop and is an extra 2.6 miles. However the summit of Mt Zealand has absolutely no views and little appeal to me so I figured I'd bag it while I was there. Apparently Zeacliff is impressive, but Zealand itself was nothing more than a slightly elevated point on a spur of higher peaks.
|Mt Guyot, 4,588ft|
Standing on the summit of Mt Twin at sunset was serene. To the Northeast was the Presidential Range and to the South was the full Pemi wilderness. Many other long-distance hikers were takign in the view and I enjoyed their company. I also decided to bag North Twin, 4,761ft while I was here and that was another quick 2.6 mile side trail. The view was nice but not as nice as South Twin. There's also a sizable campsite between the twins if you're looking for a place.
|Sunset over the Presidentials|
I slept a ways from the Galehead Hut but returned in the morning for a coffee and the weather report. I love spending time at the Appalachian Trail huts because it adds to the camaraderie of hiking in the Northeast. One group was hiking a full 50 miles in a day! Another was doing the Pemi Loop in a day. Others had hiked just a couple miles in and stayed the night in the shelter. The conversations are almost all the same- How many of the 48 have you hiked? Done the AT yet? Inevitably, you always spend way more time chatting and swapping stories at the huts than you originally planned.
Back on the trail, I made the trudge up Mt Garfield. The first 2 miles between Galehead and Garfield are normal ups and downs and then the ascent is killer. The summit of Garfield, 4,501ft, is bare and also has an incredible view. It also has a view of one of the toughest sections- the descent down Garfield and up to Lafayette!
|Mt Lafayette from Mt Garfield|
Eventually I popped up above tree-line into the very familiar and quintessentially Northeastern alpine environment. From Lafayette to Little Haystack, you spend about two and a half miles above tree line with splendid views. Of course, once I got to the summit 5,261ft, it was as busy as downtown Boston. Some people who hike the pemi loop hate this part of the hike but it wasn't so bad after getting off the summit of Lafayette.
Mt Lincoln, 5,089ft is only a mile from Lafayette but, you guessed it, its another yo-yo. However its a bare summit with less crowds so I had some lunch. Just beyond is Little Haystack is technically not a 4,000-footer but it will add to the endless ups and downs.
|Mt Lincoln and the Appalachian Trail|
The trail down was very steep but less rough than the trail up Bondcliff. I was happy with my choice to go counter-clockwise. For the particularly steep sections, there were wooden staircases which were much more preferable to uneven rocks! This trail eventually comes to a gentle descent along the Osseo Brook and the flat trail back to Lincoln Woods.
|Last Look... descent of Mt Flume|
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