Four Day Bonds and Thoreau Falls Loop – April 2016

42 pictures from a great Spring trip taken in mid April. Finally able to get the scoot on the road to New Hampshire for a long over due walk and the weather was perfect, so long as your definition of perfect expands to include a bit of chill at night.

IMG_5791aThe East Branch was looking mighty low for this time of year. Normally the melt would still be going strong up above or even at this elevation and the river would be roaring.

IMG_5792aThere were plenty of patches of snow among the trees though the temp was around 50°f as I set out just after mid day. The trail had plenty of squish to it in spots and the small flows were burbling so it felt like Spring.

IMG_5796aI’m including this picture because I have a good sense of humor and very little pride. You’ll just have to take my word for it, but I’m really not pregnant. The tight pack belt combined with the shadows and my leaning forward posture makes it look like I might be though heh. You can really see how dry the forest floor is in this pic. The lack of snow left the leaves looking more like Fall than Spring.IMG_5798aSpeaking of falling springs…I cobbled together this gravity system out of an old Sawyer Mini and a couple of Platy bags I’ve had for years. Ordered a new full size Sawyer to use later, but brought the old one in case I forgot to sleep with it and it froze. Really liking the lack of effort involved in filtering water this way, but I think I am going to get a zip top bag for easier filling in standing water.IMG_5800aWith the sun sinking behind the ridge early I decided to camp relatively low, just past the second brook crossing if I recall correctly. My first real trail day in the Limmers had resulted in some pinkie toe discomfort so I was glad to put on my camp shoes along with my fuzzy camp clothes. Recently added to the fuzzy camp clothes collection was the ibex Meru with the snazzy Trailspace stitching.IMG_5801aAt this elevation the snow was more abundant, but still patchy. It had gotten down to around 20°f overnight so I was glad I had some sunshine pretty early in the day.IMG_5805aMy tube of olive oil had turned into olive slushie. Note the kettle is on the stove there in the background. Getting that on was a definite priority.IMG_5806aDon’t think I can go back to instant now that I’ve been enjoying the good stuff. More Trailspace swag; both the Innate insulated mug and the GSI coffee screen are part of my mess kit in any weather, but a real favorite on cold mornings. IMG_5808aDay two took me higher up and onto a track that was still covered in hard packed ice in most places. Definitely a good time for traction and I was glad I had my Hillsounds many times over the next few days.IMG_5810aThe weather had been alternating between rain and hard freezes for a while so there were lots of interesting ice sculptures to be found. IMG_5813aThe early Spring light had a wonderful sparkle to it. It was tempting to stay and watch it in spots like this, but I had some climbing to do.IMG_5816aWell, OK, this spot had to be appreciated for a few minutes. It was an ice flow from the steep slope above the trail that was decaying as it was exposed to the sun.IMG_5818aIt didn’t take long to reach the rock face that signals the base of Bondcliff. You can see I’ve tossed my poles on up so my hands are free for the climb. I took off my gloves not to use the camera, but to scarf down some dark chocolate espresso trail mix. Just the motivator for scampering up a cliff with a 35lb pack.IMG_5819aActually this was my real motivation. This cliff is a pretty darn neat place to be most any day, but if you can get up there on a clear day like this it makes the effort seem a small price to pay.IMG_5820aLincoln and Lafayette rising up beyond Owls Head still seemed to have snow on the peaks and in the chutes, but I’m pretty sure that is all hard ice. I wasn’t headed that way this time, but I sort of wished I was.IMG_5822aHancock and Carrigain looked mostly snowless. Very different from last year when I was trying to snowshoe up Cedar Brook and breaking through waist deep snow in spots as it came apart under my snowshoes.IMG_5826Each time I come up here it seems the same, yet very different. The ice and snow made interesting contrast with the rock, but what I really noticed was the different color of the sun this time of year. Even though mid day was approaching it was a gentle light that brought out colors rather than blinding. Well except in the icy and snowy sections heh.IMG_5827aLincoln, Lafayette and Garfield just barely sneaking in the picture on the right. Can’t help but remember walking that trail last fall, though that day was cloudy and gray.

IMG_5828aI am a big fan of giant holes in the ground and have visited many in my travels, but this is one of my favorites. The empty space is almost palpable and I’m always reminding myself not to reach out too far to touch it when I’m up there.IMG_5829aOut beyond that space Flume and Liberty mark the beginning of the Franconia ridge. Again it is hard to look at those mountains without recalling climbing them. I especially remember the col between them and how I was annoyed going down knowing I’d have to go right back up 🙂IMG_5830aSpeaking of going up…time to head up to Bond Summit. The exposed areas were mostly ice free so I did this section bare booted. Once I got up into the scrub closer to the summit I had to put the spikes back on or risk violating the family “No Breaka You Neck” rule.IMG_5831aOf course at the summit I was met by the local Gray Jay contingent. Oddly enough I also met a human up there. He arrived from West Bond on a day hike and headed out onto the cliff leaving me and the Jay alone.IMG_5833aFrom here on the summit looking over West Bond you get a better sense of the size of the ridge in the distance. The same spot, yet very different from my visits here last Summer. The wind on the summit was brisk so I certainly didn’t stay nearly as long this time.IMG_5836aWell, long enough to get yet one more pic of the big Presidents. I guess some day I’ll have to go over that way, but admiring them from here seems a lot easier than climbing them heh.IMG_5837aThe trail on the north side of the summit was snow rather than ice and I’ll admit I took advantage a few times to buttslide in the steep spots. IMG_5838aArriving at the Guyot camp in the middle of the afternoon I had the place to myself. The view from the shelter porch was pleasant enough and I spent a few hours soaking up snacks and rehydrating.IMG_5841aThe bear boxes were just poking out of the snow down below in the cooking area. Don’t think the bears were a worry this time of year, but I was hoping there weren’t any shelter mice.IMG_5843aOf course there were a couple of Gray Jays hoping I’d let them steal my food, but I know better. They seem cute, but they are fearless and will take the food from your hand on its way to your mouth.IMG_5844aIf I look pretty happy to be sitting on the porch in my fuzzy clothes it is because I was. Those little chairs weren’t very sturdy, but to have some place comfortable to sit out of the snow seemed pretty great to me. Surprisingly enough I had two separate hikers toddle in over the next few hours. Pretty sure each of us had expected to be there alone, but we managed to share the shelter and survive the night.IMG_5846aMorning from the front porch was cold, but worth getting up for. Thankfully it wasn’t the solstice so I didn’t feel I’d needed to get up early and shoot and video 🙂 I shot this and crawled back under the quilt for a few minutes before getting up to make coffee.IMG_5848aThis Gray Jay was looking pretty fat for the time of year, but the lack of snow cover had probably helped him find food. Some from the ground and probably more from hikers heh. He was getting none of my breakfast cereal that day I can assure you.IMG_5849aThis sight made me a little sad. The friendly host long gone I had no one to share afternoon coffee with on this trip. Good memories though 🙂IMG_5850aAgain the morning light was fantastic. As I made my way up Guyot towards the Twinway I kept stopping to look at the peaks around me. I knew soon enough I’d be in the trees so now was the time to enjoy the views while I could.IMG_5853aThere was some snow in the scrub trees along the ridge, but most of the Twinway was covered in hard ice, much of it wet with melt. I was hanging from my spikes and using my poles for all I was worth to keep myself stuck to the ground on the steep sections.IMG_5855aIn between exertion and terror there were of course these amazing views every few minutes. It was a bit hazier on day three, but still there were some far horizon lines. I always love seeing the far ridges beyond the other ridges that are beyond the ones in front of me. Comforting to know you won’t run out of mountains any time soon I guess.IMG_5857aAll this time, about three hours, I had yet to see another soul. This was a Saturday and the weather was astoundingly clear so I’d expected to run into throngs headed up the way I’d come from on this trail. Maybe it was the ice, maybe they were all climbing Washington in the nice weather, but I was really enjoying the peace.IMG_5858aNo idea if it was crowded up there, but again, a lot easier to look at it from here. Certainly worth looking at from pretty much any angle.IMG_5859aYou can sense it is time to head down from this shot I think. No more pics for a while because going down this icy trail took all my attention. In some ways it was easier because the rocks were all buried, but even with spikes, walking down steep hills covered in ice uses up a lot of energy.IMG_5861aReaching the crossing just before the Zealand Hut just before lunchtime seemed a good sign. I snacked there for an hour, chatting with the hutmaster as he started greeting his guests for the day. There were some hikers here heading up as well. I was glad my hard work was done for this trip and my spikes were tucked away.IMG_5864aAfter a few easy miles on the Ethan Pond section of the AT, I made my way down to Thoreau Falls. Listening the roar as I approached started to worry me and at first glace I wasn’t sure I wanted to try crossing. Then I remembered the rocks I’ve used before and hopped over with no issue other than a pounding heart.IMG_5865aDefinitely another one of my favorite places to be. I didn’t have much time to enjoy it on this trip because I knew I had a few hard miles to cover before I’d get to where I wanted to camp that night.IMG_5866aThis is where I’ll leave you as far as pictures go. If you haven’t seen it already check out the waterfall video below. The rest of the trip was mostly about stomping my way back to the scoot. The legs are feeling pretty strong considering what felt like a lazy Winter season. As usual keeping the body happy is the biggest challenge and I really need to focus on drinking more water I think.

I know I haven’t been posting here, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot going on. I have a few more gear reviews that need to get out and I’ve already been back for another few days in the Pemi just last week. Look for a report on that trip as well as maybe a few rants that came to mind while I was out there 🙂 Also been using a Delorme inReachSE to keep in touch with the girls on the last few trips so I’d like to get out some initial thoughts on that.

Oh who am I kidding? The weather will turn nice and I’ll just want to go hiking 🙂

Here watch this pretty waterfall and I’ll post when I can!

One thought on “Four Day Bonds and Thoreau Falls Loop – April 2016

  1. Great article and very fun to read. I had my very first overnight backpacking trip in March with below freezing temps! Learned a lot that trip! Looks like I could learn a lot from reading your posts, too! Looking forward to your posts about your gear. Beautiful photos and video. Happy trails!

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