The sunniest and warmest summer weekend in the Northeast turned out to be a great weekend to hike in the White Mountains, if you can believe it. I decided to do the Bonds loop and maybe add in a few side trips to hit other summits.
I got to Franconia Notch several hours before my hiking partners on Friday, since my job is a little more flexible. To kill some time, I went up the Kinsman Ridge trail to Cannon Mountain. The trail is extremely steep and eroded into long gullies, but was a fun hike. After a summer of cold and wet conditions, the heat and humidity were hard to deal with. At the top of Cannon were dozens of people who had taken the aerial tramway up and seemed confused that a few people might walk up the mountain.
Fast forward to the evening, when I met Angela at the Lincoln Woods parking lot. We got a late start, and Gary even later (he met us at the campsite in the morning), and got to Franconia Brook tentsite just as dark was setting in. It seemed every person in New England had the same idea as we had, since the campsite was full to capacity.
In the morning, once Gary showed up, we crossed the Pemigewasset River by fording it near our campsite, almost immediately discovering a bridge that would have saved us some wet feet. No problem, though. The water was brisk and refreshing. Later in the day we would be more than happy to take a dunk in the icy waters.
By the time we got to Bondcliff, I was pouring sweat like it was my job. The trail was surprisingly easy compared to other trails I’ve been on this summer, but the humidity was murder. Once we arrived at the cliffs, though, a steady breeze dried us off in short time. Several people were already up there enjoying the views, which were spectacular. One other peakbagger helped us identify peaks like Carrigain, Tripyramid, Chocorua, and several others just as distant.
We continued on to Mt Bond, then West Bond, alternating between extremely sweaty and windblown. After West Bond, we went into Guyot campsite for water, and Angela headed back the way we came in order to get back to work the next day. Gary and I continued on to South Twin, then down to Galehead hut, pushing to get to Thirteen Falls tentsite by dark.
The crowds throughout the day were pretty large compared to what I’m used to. As we hiked in the afternoon, it seemed dozens of people were headed for Guyot Campsite, so we counted ourselves lucky that we were headed to a less crowded area. Well, it turned out Thirteen Falls had a record number of campers for the summer, too. Despite 30+ people there, it seemed relatively uncrowded, and we had a nice, relaxing evening hanging.
Gary and I were out early in the morning to do Owl’s Head. The Lincoln Brook trail’s northern half seems to have been abandoned by the trail maintainers, since it literally disappears in two or three places. Luckily, we found it again with a few short bushwhacks, and eventually made our way to the Owl’s Head path, which we discovered by the smell before we saw it. Yesterday we heard from several people about a dead moose on the trail that is so smelly you have to bushwhack around it. The rumor was true. Several people went up Owl’s Head, and rather than views or a hard hike the talk of the day was the maggots and the smell.
The rest of the story is simple. The southern end of Lincoln Brook trail, then the flat Franconia Brook trail and the Lincoln Woods trail are easy as pie. The hardest part of the afternoon was finding a place to eat at 3 PM in Lincoln, and then staying awake for the drive home.
For the rest of the pictures, check out my picasa page.