Trip report: Pemi Loop the fourth

Mt Flume, Mt Liberty, Mt Lincoln, Mt Lafayette, Mt Garfield. 2022-08-27 (Saturday.)

Galehead, South Twin, North Twin, Zealand Mountains. 2022-08-28 (Sunday.)

Mt Guyot, West Bond Mountain, Mt Bond, Bondcliff. 2022-08-29 (Monday.)

Via Lincoln Woods Trail, Osseo Trail, Franconia Ridge Trail, Garfield Ridge Trail, Frost Trail, Twinway, North Twin Spur, Zealand Spur, Bondcliff Trail, West Bond Spur.

Approximately 36-40 miles in total. This includes the out-and-back mileage of North Twin and Zealand, and some noodling around here and there.

Over 11,000 feet of cumulative elevation gain. Several sections include rocky ascents or descents at rates at or near 1,000 feet of elevation change per mile. 

Daily temps of 70s in the mornings and afternoons, to 80s in the midday hours, coming down to the 40s and 50s at night. Occasional breezes throughout each day; the presence of a steep drop-off enhanced chances of being cooled off by the wind. Endless stars at night. 

Trailhead: 0900. Garfield camp: 1830. Back on trail Sunday: 0715. Guyot campsite: 1730. Back on trail Sunday: 0815. Car: 1430. 

No attack ships, but certainly the shoulder of Orion! 

So, I did a thing. Again. The scheduling gods at work smiled. And so, with several consecutive days off, I decided to knock off a chunk of my grid in the customary fashion, by doing a loop. As one does. I’m more than 40% through at this point, though by dint of luck, I’ve still only done 4 complete rounds of the 48, even though I have several peaks five and six times over. Knocking down the more isolated peaks like Moosilauke will take backseat when the weather is great and I have enough time for an overnight. What else does one do?

In short, the trip was amazing. It was everything I hoped it would be, and more, even though I just did one last month. Yes, there was pain, but I dialed in a few things, which relieved some of that. The miles were long, and there’s no getting away from that. But I met a lot of AT hikers (I think the hiker bubble is up here now) and was gobsmacked many more times than once.

The one hiccup was that the weather on Friday (t-storms and rain) apparently pushed everyone’s last hurrah (before the kids went back to school) into Saturday: the tent sites were mobbed. At Guyot, there were 89 campers, I was told when I got there Saturday evening. My Friday night was spent elsewhere than expected, but all ended for the better: from sunset to sunrise there were many moments of unexpected “hiker TV”. (Slight speedbump was that parking at Lincoln Woods was non-existent. I had to leave my car by the side of the road, more than a quarter mile from the entrance to the parking lot. Wow.)

People often describe something as “perfect,” when that description often is really misused. When you see a sunrise or sunset that’s on fire, or endless stars glitter in the dark like diamonds sprinkled across the night sky… that’s perfect. A lily is perfect. An ice-cold brook on a baking-hot day when you’re sweaty and exhausted from hiking for hours… you get the point. A sofa you got at some cozy antique shop that matches the drapes just the way you wanted? That’s not perfect. It’s a sofa.

And so, I’m left with the question of how I should write that which is difficult to put into words. I’m going to let the pictures do the talking. I sometimes mention that in a hike, I was booking miles more than registering moments of awe and amazement. This time around, the gods smiled in a rare way. There were many things I saw and experienced that leave me stuck, completely at a loss of how to write about them without sounding mechanical about it. I emerged from the forest completely wiped out, and yet, energized from seeing a lot of amazing things.

The details of this hike were a lot like last month’s, excepting that I didn’t spend the first night at Garfield Tentsite. Same trails, same peaks, etc. Regarding the refinements in gear, technique, and such that I made over last time, I may put them into a different post, assuming people are interested. Stay tuned. 

As always, stay safe out there.

Nuts and Bolts: The customary start is from Lincoln Woods, though there are other obvious start and end points if one consults a map. Blazes vary, but for all sections that coincide with the AT, you’ll be looking for familiar white. Trails immediately off the AT are blue. Else, usually yellow. Stretches going through the Pemigewasset Wilderness may be sparsely blazed, if at all. Most of the trail is well maintained, and well trodden; easy to find and follow. Note that junctions exist, and you’d do well to be sure you’re heading down the right trail in order not to end up miles off course. 

Water between Liberty Springs and the lower sections of Garfield Ridge trail is non-existent except by descending to Greenleaf Hut. (Note the hut is closed in the off-season, which is rapidly approaching as I write this.) Plan ahead, camel-up if necessary. 

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