Member Trip report
Trip Report/Photos from Robert.L
Thwarted by the weather! The best planning in the world cannot compete with Mother Nature! I was up in Maine visiting family. My folks were kind enough of take care of Soleil, my greyhound, for a few days while I escaped to Zealand hut for the nights of 12/25 and 12/26. However, Maine got socked really hard in the Christmas day storm and it was roughly 2pm before the snow let up where my folks live. I bagged my first night at the hut – sadly – but it was all good. I cleared the drive for my folks and got to spend an extra day of binge watching Christmas movies with my parents.
Not to be deterred I rose at 6am on the 26th and by 7am I was on the road to the Zealand Road parking lot to hike to the hut. Driving was slow and slick in a few spots – but I arrived for a 9am trail departure. There were two cars in the lot when I arrived. I sported my snow shoes out of the gate but I saw that those who arrived before me were bare booting their hike. When I arrived at the trail head for Mt. Hale it was obvious no one had hiked it in quite a bit. At that point the trail I followed became a classic print of snow shoes – yeah – I wasn’t going to break trail!! Up to this point the snow was a modest 5 or 6 inches in depth but seemed to get deeper the closer I got to the Zealand Trail head. I had flirted with the idea of going up Hale and down to the hut via Lend a Hand Trail but I know full well the challenge of breaking trail and I was confident the snow totals were much higher at the upper elevations. I was solo and it might have made for a really long and arduous day so I continued to the Zealand Trail. Along the way the sun disappeared and a casual snow began to fall – so beautiful!! I followed the broken path for a bit and saw where those ahead of me took breaks. Roughly 2 miles into the hike I caught up with a group of 5 AMC hikers who were on their way to the hut. I thanked them for their collective trail breaking and carried on ahead as I was moving at a faster pace. My pace, however, slowed down as I now took the lead in breaking trail. The snow was getting deeper but my Noon I was at the hut, roughly 20 minutes later the AMC group arrived.
At the hut we all had lunch. Three of the 5 in the AMC group wanted to continue hiking and we decided to bond as a group of four and break trail going up to Zeacliff. About this time it was 1pm and we had roughly 3.5 hours of daylight left. None of the trails above Zealand had been hiked in the last 8 to 10 days. A lot of snow fell and we knew we had a lot of work to do. The goal was set to tag Zealand Mountain but we would assess once we reached the Zeacliff view. Off we went. The snow was AMAZING and the quantities unbelievable. Certainly some of it was due to drifting but more often than not we trudged through knee to hip high snow – SO MUCH FUN!! We worked hard. It took us nearly two hours to reach Zeacliff View. We had a heavily filtered view – snow was falling – but we had a brilliant time of it. It was decided that was the goal of the day. We had a quick snack, shared some cookies, hydrated and meandered back to the hut.
Connecting with the AMC group was serendipitous moment. I fully expected to be solo all day. What I love most about encountering fellow hikers is the deep spirit of community. At the hut we all dined together and shared food, wine and good conversation. I learned a great deal about the Boston chapter and may find myself joining the chapter for more group oriented winter adventures. They learned a little about GO as well but won’t likely be joining, lol. A huge thanks to Ken, Liz and Brian!! While they didn’t mind photos, they asked I not post anything to GO – and I have obliged!! The photo from the view point is appropriately altered for the happy moment!!
The next morning a few quick shots in the bright sun and back to the other world. Until the next adventure, enjoy and see you on the trails!!
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