Ascent of Zealand Mountain on 2010-06-19

Climber: Michael Bryant

Others in Party:Brian
Date:Saturday, June 19, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Zealand Mountain
    Location:USA-New Hampshire
    Elevation:4240 ft / 1292 m

Ascent Trip Report

Weather: Warm but otherwise fantastic.
Trail: Zealand Trail & Twinway Trail (AT). 11.4 miles roundtrip. We left the parking area at 10:30 and were back to the parking lot by 7:00pm. We spent about a half hour at the Zeacliffs, two 15 minute stops at the Zealand Hut, and a 20 minute stop for lunch and sock change.
Trail Conditions: Fairly good throughout.
View: No view from the summit. From Zeacliffs you get a fantastic view of the Pemigewasset Wilderness. Zealand is on the north end of the Pemi Wilderness and you get a great southeast facing view. Mt. Washington, the Willey Range, and Carrigain stand out.

Group: Mike, Brian and Anai

I group this hike in three sections: The Country Stroll, The Relentless Ascent and, The Search for the Summit. The first

2.5 miles of this hike (The Country Stroll), from the parking lot at the end of Zealand Rd to the Zealand Hut, meanders through forest and wetlands on a fairly level, or gradually ascending, grade. Here I saw some of the largest paper birch trees I have ever seen. According to Smith and Dickerman it follows an old logging railroad for large portions of this section. In “The 4000 Footers of the White Mountains” they describe this as the “beaver-haunted Zealand Valley” and we did see many signs of beavers including gnawed trees and dams. It was perfect country for a moose encounter. We kept our eyes peeled but did not see one. The trail then passes Zealand falls and begins a steep grade for a relatively short distance which ends at the Zealand Hut.
At the Zealand Hut we had an encounter with Bruce, an AMC volunteer. I am not sure what prompted it but Bruce volunteered his opinion that someone should put a bullet in the head of every legislator down in Concord. I checked for the weapons stash while Brian distracted Bruce with some questions about the trail ahead. Being satisfied that Bruce was more talk than action, and having had our fill of the homemade AMC baked goodies, we were off.

The second section of this hike (The Relentless Ascent) is from Zealand Hut to the Zeacliffs. It begins innocently enough, passing the pump station and crossing Whitewall Brook. We would stop here at the brook on our return, tempted to take our boots off and soak our feet but settling for a quick wash of the face. The trail then begins a steady and persistent climb of about 1800 feet in short order. As the ascent finally does relent you find yourself at a short spur that takes you to the Zeacliffs. Here there are truly excellent views. It was a tough place to leave. It was a bit easier to leave on the return trip as the AMC Leadership School had taken up all the best seats and were milling about looking at their compasses and comparing bearings. Brian and I agreed that if they had just been scouts they would already know most of that stuff.

The third section (The Search for the Summit) is essentially a ridge walk with a few interesting diversions. The first is what I call the fake out summit. After climbing a steep area that includes a ladder you come to a rocky ledge. Looking around you can’t really see any higher ground. It is easy to think that you have reached the summit. In reality the summit is another 30 minutes away. On the way from the “fake out summit” to the real summit you cross through an area of trail that is frequented by grouse. I had not read Smith and Dickerman’s description of this section prior to hiking it so I was surprised to see one right on the trail who did not seemed at all intimidated by or impressed with my presence. I snapped a few photos of him and carried on.

The summit is on a short 0.1 spur off the Twinway to the right. Basically you come to a hole in the woods with a pile of rocks. Congrats – you reached the summit of Zealand. Get out your list, check that one off and keep moving cause there’s nothing to see here.

We hiked about half the distance back to the Zeacliffs before stopping to eat and change socks. From that point on we were mostly business, with a short stop again at Zeacliffs with the AMC Leadership School, and another quick stop at the Zealand Hut to check in on Bruce. As we descended from the hut we again passed the Zealand Falls area where another trail comes in from the right. Here we met a young woman carrying some climbing gear in her pack. Brian asked her if she had been climbing and she said that she her climbing partner (who was not with her at the time) had just finished climbing a section of Whitewall Mountain that had not been climbed since the 1930’s and that they had renamed it. She then told us that her climbing partner was taking too long and she set out on a brisk run ahead of us. Brian and I wondered aloud how she could know that nobody else had been there in 80 years. She seemed fairly certain and proud of herself so we didn’t bring it up when we saw her again at the parking lot where she looked a bit nervous about her climbing partner not showing up after we did. She ran back into the woods as we were getting ready to take off. We wondered if there ever was a climbing partner, or if there was, what had she done with him...

On our way out of the WMNF area we stopped at the general store just south of the intersection of routes 3 & 302. It seemed like the kind of spot to find some beek jerky and we were right. After that it was off to the Mad River Tavern. I stuck with the chili and salad this time but Brian and Anai twisted my arm to get some ice cream afterwards. The decision was made to leave the top down on the Jeep for a nice starlit night ride back home down 93.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Nights Spent:0 nights away from roads
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Clear
Beautiful Day
Ascent Statistics
    Route:Zealand Trail and Twinway Trail (AT)
    Trailhead:Zealand Rd Parking lot  
Descent Statistics

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