Zealand Mountain Hike
By Mike Boisvert.
Five gay outdoor enthusiasts gathered near the Zealand Campground near Twin Mountain, NH, to hike up Zealand Mountain. Zealand is 4,260-feet high. Usually we would drive on Zealand Road to the trailhead but the road was closed due to bridge repairs.
We had to use mountain bikes to reach the trailhead via Zealand Road. But first we had to lift our bikes on and off the bridge that is being constructed over the river. Our heart rates quickly escalated during the 3.6 miles ride uphill to the trailhead parking area. That was one of the hardest parts of the whole trip. We managed to get our expedition officially underway at the Zealand Trail parking lot around 9:00.
The first 2.3 miles is easy and pleasant following an old railroad bed. We charged up the steep rock steps briskly, arriving at the Zealand Hut in about 90 minutes for a break and to enjoy Zealand Falls.
After the break, we continued on for an early lunch at Zeacliff and enjoyed magnificent views of Mt. Washington, Zealand Notch and the Pemigewasset Wilderness. With temperatures in the low 40s, we enjoyed the warm sun.
Markus courted danger by leaning close to edge of the cliff. After lunch, we continued our journey, enjoying the last of the not-quite-spectacular fall colors.
This next stretch was made interesting by the several ledgy humps we had to ascend. We did run into snow from the freak Northeaster Hurricane Wilma provided a week ago.
We reached the summit of Zealand Mountain and Jon bagged his 45th 4,000-footer. He has only three more to go. The summit itself is wooded.
We made it back to our mountain bikes at 4:30pm as it was getting dark. With our headlamps on we descended quickly downhill with glee, however it was difficult to react fast enough to swerve the branches on the road so a few of us crashed into them. After the hike, some headed over to the Mad River Lodge for showers, beer, and pizza.
Overall we covered 18 miles, 11.2 miles of it on foot. This trip is a good example of the journey, not the destination itself, being the highlight.
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