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Galehead, South Twin, Zealand, & the Bonds

The weather forecast for the week of July 4th was a little uncertain, but I was on vacation anyway, so I gathered up my sons Matthew and Adam and headed north for a three-day hike in the Whites. My wife, bless her soul, offered to drive us up on Tuesday and pick us up on Thursday. Her generosity made it feasible for us to hike in from one location and hike out to another, something I seldom get a chance to do.

Tuesday, July 2 (5.1 miles). We started late (isn't that always the case), but our mileage for day one was only five miles, so the late start really didn't matter. The weather the first day was quite good; blue skies and the occasional puffy white cloud. The mosquitos and black flies were not too bad, and although bug spray didn't keep them from landing on available skin, it did, for the most part, discourage them from making a meal of us.

We started the hike on the Gale River Trail, and hiked from the trailhead to the where the trail terminates on the Garfield Ridge Trail between Mt. Garfield and Galehead. When we reached the Garfield Ridge Trail, we turned east and followed it to Galehead Hut, where the Hut Croo was kind enough to let us refill our water bottles and told us that the best available tenting trail was the Frost Trail, a half-mile spur trail the ascends Galehead. We found an acceptable place for the tent and bivy bag about 100 yards before the trail terminates on the treed summit of Galehead. After popping up to the top for a nice view of Garfield to the west, we set up camp and made dinner. This was the first time I used my bivy instead of a tent, and, since I'm not claustraphobic, I slept quite well. According to my kids, I even slept through a visit from a UMIS (Unknown Mammal of Indeterminate Size).

Wednesday, July 3 (6.4 miles). We awoke quite early (a bit before 6:00 am) and quickly broke camp and headed out. After refilling our waterbottles at Galehead hut, we began the steep ascent of South Twin, the highest point we planned to hike to during the trip. Since I'm a fat boy with a big pack (carrying more than my share, which is normal when I hike with my kids), I was pretty tired by the time we reached the summit. Any plans we had entertained of making a 2.6 mile side trip up and back North Twin were quickly abandoned. The view from the top of South Twin was great, although some of the nearby peaks, most noticeably Mt. Washington, were shrouded in clouds. Although the weather was clear early, it rapidly deteriorated throughout the day.

We followed the Twinway north until we reached The Bondcliff Trail, where we jettisoned our packs behind some bushed and made a sidetrip east on the Twinway and summited Mt. Guyot and Mt. Zealand. After we got back to the trail junction and retrieved our packs, we continued north along Bondcliff trail until we reached the spur trail the leads to Guyot campsite, where we spent the night. We arrived just a few minutes ahead of a group of about 15 hikers that were hiking together, so what was a nice, quiet, empty campground soon became quite full. As we began to setup our tent on the tent platform, it began to rain. By the time dinner was ready, the rain had pretty much turned into a downpour. Again, and despite the rain, I spent a comfortable night's sleep in my bivy. No regrets on purchasing it--it's nice to have a shelter that keeps you dry and weighs less than two pounds. I did notice, that with the cover closed to shed rain, there was condensation buildup inside the bivy, but that's to be expected, and was something I knew about before the purchase. My next purchase will be a dryloft covered down bag, so condensation moisture can't find its way back into my sleeping bag.

Thursday, July 4 (12.2 miles). Today was the big mileage day, so we needed to get an early start. We were broken down and on the trail by 6:30 am, and after the steep hike up from Guyot campsite, we continued south on Bondcliff trail, ascending the ridgeline until we came to the spur trail that goes to the summit of West Bond. We dumped the packs and were up West Bond and back to Bondcliff Trail by 7:45 am, and we summitted Bond by 8:30 am. The ridgeline between Mt. Bond and Bondcliff is exposed and without much vegetation, and affords excellent views to the west and east. The cliffs dropping away on the western side of the ridgeline are spectacular by eastern standards, and this section of Bondcliff is a "must do" for anyone who hikes regularly in the Whites.

After we reached the summit of Bondcliff, we began the long, downward trek towards Bondcliff Trail's termination on the Wilderness Trail along the Pemigewasset River. Once we reached the Wilderness Trail, we followed it along the Pemi until we reached the parking lot on the Kancamagus Highway, a distance of 4.7 miles. During the last three miles of our hike, we experienced some thunderstorms, the only significantly wet weather we experienced while actually hiking on the trails. Along the Wilderness Trail we met up with my wife, who had dayhiked in to meet up with us. When we got to the car, we were pleasantly surprised by an amazing picnic lunch/dinner that Elisa had made for us--a welcome change after three days of my backcountry cooking.

Total trip mileage, 23.7 miles

Copyright © 1996, David Lister

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Document last modified on Friday, 19-Jan-2007 07:19:59 MST.