2020-07-15 to 2020-07-17
Yowza that was long.
So this is basically a teaser to let you guys know that I just got home from doing a Pemi Loop over the past couple days. There are photos… a bevy of them, and I’m sifting through, doing the usual cropping and editing, and composing a trip report. I do want it to be more than the “let the photos tell the story” of last time. Regrettably, I need to be at work tonight, so that’s an obvious competitor for my time in the immediate future.
But for now…
In short, it was fun. There were a lot of clouds, natch, so the views were oftentimes less than what I’d have preferred. But casting my gaze nearer as I so often do, I did see some complete surprises, a couple of which totally blew my socks off. Stay tuned for those photos, because I’m sure you’ll appreciate them as much as I did. (And I’m going to own the fact that the image for this post is from last year’s loop. Lame, I know. It’ll be worth it. I promise.)
I did last year’s loop, plus I tacked on Zealand — it made for an even dozen, and puts me within 4 of a third round of the 48. Almost 25% of my grid done! The extra miles were tough. Never let it be said that the AT in New Hampshire is easy as pie. I have to count to be sure, but there were at least a couple sections with a thousand feet of elevation change within one mile. That’s hard work no matter which way you go.
I slept at Garfield and Guyot campsites. This morning, there was rain that started in the wee hours, and went through to at least late morning. It cleared out pretty quickly after that, but I didn’t see blue skies until I was back down in the Concord area. You can pick your days, but you can’t pick the weather. That said, a soggy day out on the trail is still a day out on the trail, and I know of no-one who, when given the option, wished they’d spent more time at the office.
And so, I’ll leave things at that for now. There should be a more detailed trip report tomorrow, with lots of photos — obviously, in three days, I took many. I met a lot of wonderful and interesting people during the trip, so if you’re one of them, and checking in, ***welcome*** and please check back. (Also, perhaps subscribe, so you can stay in the loop!) I’d love to read your comments, especially if you saw or experienced something I didn’t.
Cheers for now.
As always, stay safe out there.
Nuts and Bolts: I set out from Lincoln Woods. If you do an overnight, please don’t forget to sign the register that’s by the door at the ranger station, so they know you’re out there. I took the clockwise route, crossing Franconia Ridge to Garfield, then out to the Twins and Zealand, before crossing the Bonds on the way back. More details soon.
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8 thoughts on “Trip Report: Pemi Loop — Brief”
Looking forward to this!
I was wondering if you were out there yesterday. I attempted Eisenhower via Edmands Path, didn’t quite make it. Turns out it’s a good idea to start off on less strenuous trails when you basically haven’t gotten any exercise all year.
Oh wow. Yeah, I might have tried Pierce instead, for a Presidential hike. Or gone for something like Waumbek, where you can get occasional views from the north — IMHO, a completely underrated, yet very friendly mountain.
But at least you got out, which is far better than not.
Hey nice write up. I’m probably doing a half Pemi Loop clockwise going down through 13 Falls simply due to time constraints. Although I’d like to skip Liberty Tentsite I’ll probably stay there first night because I’m nervous about Garfield Tentsite filling up before I get there. Do you have any idea what time the tentsites have been filling up? I also have a question about those bear boxes at the sites. Is your food safe in there with everyone else’s food? Ever hear of people taking food from other’s packs? I’m sure it’s a trivial concern but I just still wanted to ask. One last thing, how were the water supplies along the loop? Thanks for any replies you can give. Cheers! Jake.
I think the tent site filling-up-time is going to vary. The night I was at Garfield, everyone was talking about how Guyot was getting packed. I myself took up the last spot on a platform at Garfield. Then again, the overnight weather was dry, and so was the next day’s weather. Compare that to my next night at Guyot, which was not at all filled to capacity, but rain was forecast for the overnight and into the next day. Probably no rocket science there — no doubt, the rain had something to say in who really, really wanted to sleep in a tent that night.
As far as food, people are people. I’ve never had a problem with hikers pinching any of my belongings, whether I’ve stayed at a campsite or in one of the huts. I’ve dropped off my stuff, and then not given it so much as a second thought. I think 99.99% of any hikers you’ll meet are going to leave your stuff alone. if your food bag does get grabbed, it’ll almost certainly be by mistake, and that mistake will be fixed in very short order. Anything can happen, of course, but realistically, I wouldn’t worry about it. I’d worry much more about what will happen if you *don’t* leave your food in a bear box. You really don’t want Yogi and Boo-Boo paying a visit. There’s nothing good to be had from that, ether for you, or for the bruin. Remember: a fed bear is a dead bear, and it’s a shame if a beautiful animal has to be destroyed because humans screwed up.
On the subject of water, it’s going to depend on where exactly you wander. Check the AMC guide, because it’s pretty good about detailing where you’ll find it. But a rule of thumb is that any improved site — a hut, tent site, shelter, etc — that’s run by the AMC, RMC, DOC, NH state parks, etc, is going to very likely have water nearby. (I can’t think of any that don’t.) You’ll need a filter for anywhere that isn’t a hut, or you’ll risk something like Giardia or Cryptosporidium; neither of which you want to touch with a ten meter cattle prod. Heading out 13 Falls, you’ll probably be able to find easy water as you pass by Owl’s Head. Lincoln and Franconia Brooks both run along either side for most of the way.
Thanks for the reply. I’m curious, how much does your pack typically weigh for the loop? My gear is good and light weight but this would be the most extensive climbing I’ve done while backpacking. I do fine in The Catskills and elsewhere and those climbs are fairly difficult but nothing compared to the Pemi Loop. I’d imagine I would struggle with too heavy a pack. I guess it wouldn’t be as bad splitting in 3 days but still many of those climbs are very intense. I’ve done the Ridge 4 times as a day trip. I’m just curious about your experience with your pack and the loop. Thanks for reply if you can. Jake
First off: My advice to everyone is pretty similar: keep a bailout plan handy. At the point where things stop being fun, execute your plan. To this (local) end) think of it this way: if you’ve been fine in the Catskills with x gear for y days, it’s probably going to do you just as well here — the weather isn’t that different. Obviously, watch the weather, and pack accordingly. One thing I’d do differently is to pack extra food, because the ‘Loop has a really stiff amount of vertical change, and very little of that comes cheap or easy — you fight tooth and nail for almost every foot. No AT hiker I’ve ever met has described the Whites as a walk in the park. Some even wondered out loud how Grandma Gatewood and Earl Shaeffer did it, in between cursing the rocky ups and downs. Some of the harder miles on the AT start at Liberty Springs, and end at Zealand hut, which accounts for around a third of a Pemi Loop.
I’m hesitant to say “my pack was 35# wet setting out” (even though it was) only because I don’t want you to take that as gospel and assume it’ll work for you. I’m not you, nor are you me. (“Hike your own hike” is another way of saying this.) Being out in the woods miles from the nearest trailhead, and even more miles from your car is no place to find out that what worked for me isn’t cutting it for you. And pack weight is no indication of what’s actually being carried. For all anyone knows, I’m a masochist who lives for sticking lead bricks in his pack while subsisting on rice cakes and weak tea. Or maybe I brought more and heavier clothes and less food. Maybe I carried more water than someone else would. And almost certainly, my empty pack itself weighs something different to yours.
What might be a smarter idea for you, given the questions you’re asking, is to kick the Pemi Loop can down the road by a couple weekends, and consider doing a quick car-camping trip somewhere nearby, even your own backyard if you have a space that’ll work. Pack your backpack like you think you’ll need it on the ‘Loop, and “pack your fears” into your car. If night falls and you wish you had something that’s not in your backpack, decide whether to push through without, or whether it’s important enough to raid your car. And, of course, your bailout plan is parked mere feet and inches away. A trip like this can do a lot to sort out in your head what of your gear still works for you, and what doesn’t. You could, for example, bring three different water filters (you’re not carrying them, so you might as well) and put them all to the test. Or maybe you do two nights, and spend one on a foam mat, and the other on an inflatable pad. There’s much less risk in working out the kinks in your system this way, and an overnight at almost any campground will be short money.
As far as weight in your pack in total, if you’re accustomed to carrying 20# on a day trip that lasts eight hours, consider that a 30# pack is going to start out feeling like half again more than your usual load, as it will be. At the end of the first day, it’ll feel much heavier than that, and by mid-day the next day, you might start thinking that it’s outright unbearable. If you’re concerned that the Pemi Loop is going to present you with a struggle, that’s probably the mountains sending you a telegram that you should really pay attention to. You’ll eat a couple pounds of food each day, which will indeed lighten your pack, but you’ll be getting tired at least as fast, if not faster, negating a lot of those effects. An AT hiker mentioned that on the trail, in between towns, you can’t physically carry enough calories to maintain weight. Even from my three days on the ‘Loop, I can tell you for sure that I lost approximately five pounds. So take that into account. It might benefit you to do some shorter hikes with a moderately heavier pack, and see where that gets you.
And one last thing: I have a pile of gear. Most of it is stuff that I carried for awhile. Then I found either I don’t really need it, or someone came out with something that did it better. My pack is continually evolving. When I finally get to Springer Mountain (on the AT) and set out, it’ll be with full knowledge of a simple truth: some stuff will get left behind in a hiker box somewhere. Some will be sent home, swapped out for something else. And it’ll be a very different hiker, carrying a different load, who’ll arrive on the summit of Katahdin some months later. The only constant is change.
Very sound advice. And for sure I’m taking the advice of setting out in The Catskills with what I would carry on The Pemi Loop. The Burroughs Range in The Cats would be perfect to test this 35lb pack. Don’t be hesitant to say 35lbs because that’s precisely what mine weighed on a test today. I may, however, get a better solo tent that under 2lbs. I have the Half Dome 1 Plus which is a good tent but it adds nearly 4lbs which is my heaviest item. I removed my fleece and some underwear to get it to 35, haha. I do have The Disco 15F SBag so nights would be nice in July and August. I carry the fleece for the ridge but always end up removing it because I sweat. I added an emergency warmer instead just in case that is super light. Most of my other gear is light including the Tensor pad. Also, I would be heading down to 13 Falls and skipping The Bonds doing the 24 mile “half Pemi”. You have given great advice and great responses, thank you very much. I’ll definitely follow this blog as you have some great write ups. I don’t know if I can link in this comment or not but if you’d like to see it here was last year on my 4th annual Ridge loop on YT. I’m very familiar with the area this is my 5th year there, just have never backpacked it. I know how those climbs are. Cheers, thanks again. Jake. Ridge in 4K below.