In order to set up myself for a hike like this, my pack is completely ready to go Thursday night, minus water and my snacks. I drank about two liters of water on Friday at work, came home cooked some stuff up on the grill, and was in bed around 6:30pm for a few hours. I woke up at 10pm on the button, drove north, and at 12:10am, I was zooming into the Pemi Wilderness on the Lincoln Woods Trail, right on schedule. There's not a whole lot of time to spare on this hike in order to get it done in a day.
I was off flying with the lighter pack, and in the blink of an eye, the Osseo Trail was behind me and hit the summit of Flume once again in the dead of night two hours from the start. The birds were already chirping in the night as I reached the ridge, a sign of a beautiful day to come. The temperature at the start (and right over the Franconia Ridge) was comfortable, with that nice layer of perspiration forming on my skin.
|Approaching the summit of Flume|
|Summit of Flume at night|
By doing these back-to-back Pemi Loops, I was able to even more-so stamp in mind the trail features of certain sections along this hike, like the next section on the Franconia Ridge Trail. In the winter, a heavy-leaner can block the path and confuse you, and the Franconia Ridge trail after the junction with the Liberty Springs Trail has a few twists and turns that are really good to remember, especially for the winter for that reason. Despite that thought process going on my mind, I was still cruising this nice flat section, and in three hours and about 20 minutes, I was on Little Haystack. Here, I noticed the waning crescent moon had risen in the sky behind me.
|Franconia Ridge Trail and Liberty Spring Trails junction|
|Little Haystack summit|
|Mt. Lincoln's summit cairn as I approached (look closely)|
|The moon over the Pemi|
|Mt. Lafayette summit pre-sunrise|
|My 10th time to Mt. Lafayette|
|A plane's trail reflects brightly off the sun above Garfield and Twins|
|A final look back at the morning moon over the Pemi|
|Looking up to Lafayette on the Garfield Ridge Trail|
|Mt. Garfield Summit|
|(Left to Right) Flume, Liberty, Lincoln, Lafayette|
|Pemi Wilderness (Owl's Head on Right)|
|Garfield Ridge Trail towards Galehead Hut|
|Garfield Ridge Campsite water source|
|The beautiful view from AMC's Galehead Hut|
|Galehead Hut with Galehead summit in background|
|Big smile for being on Galehead in about 8.5 hrs from Lincoln Woods|
The hike up to South Twin was next - .8 miles and 1,100 feet of elevation gain, one of the steepest sections on the whole Pemi Loop. It has become second nature, almost, and I no longer dread it or complain about it. I think of it as a natural stairmaster, and just program myself to keep a steady pace, doing just that, one step after another without much stopping. Before I know it, I'm passing the North Twin sign on the way out there.
|North Twin Spur|
|North Twin - a 2.6 mile out and back with 750 feet of extra gain|
I made it to North Twin's summit outlook, and took about a 10 minute break here, with my boots off (which I did about 4 times on this loop, something I've never done before). This was because I kept getting dirt and twigs in my boots. I opted to keep my low gaiters off until later when I would put them on. A young couple was kind enough to take my photo at the outlook. The photo at the top of the post is from the North Twin summit outlook. It's a beautiful view, one that puts into perspective the varying elevation of peaks on the northern part of the loop.
I hiked back up the North Twin Spur and right over South Twin again and onto the Twinway. It would be 2 relatively easy miles (after the steep descent into the trees from South Twin) to the Bondcliff junction from here. At this point in time, you have to prepare the mind for one more pretty difficult out-and-back to Zealand, in terms of mileage and gain together, before you can think that your now on more direct path to the end. Up and over Guyot, one of the coolest spots in all of the White Mountains I went. The Twinway en route to Zealand is quite rocky and gravel-y, and doesn't make this out-and-back and easier, especially at this point along this extended loop. Nothing to do but keep going, get there, take a picture, and turn around.
|The Twinway leaving South Twin summit towards the Bonds|
|Owls Head in the foreground with Flume, Liberty, and Lincoln in the back|
|Mt. Guyot Summit|
|Zealand Summit sign|
That I did. Zealand was my 9th 4000-footer of the day, and with just three more now not too far away, I was feeling pretty good. My feet were starting to get real sore by the time I reached the West Bond Spur. It was here that I bumped into a big group, which consisted of several folks from the 4000 footer group on Facebook, who were doing a Zealand-Bonds Traverse. While I past them on my way out to Zealand, it was this time we acquainted. Nice to meet Monica, Joe C., Michael B., and others in that group. Both myself and this group were on the look-out for another fellow hiker, Bill R., who was also attempting a Pemi Loop, starting approximately 3 hrs after I did. This would be around the location we'd expect to bump into him, but unfortunately, his journey turned out differently (but not disappointingly). You can read his well written account of how his journey ended up, by clicking here.
After a chat with the group, I headed out to West Bond, the very last out-and-back on this journey. What a different world it was here compared to the weekend before. Instead of a socked in view with rain and iced over trees, I was treated to a nice breeze, 360 degree view of the Pemi, and the always impressive view of the Bonds ridge line. 7 times, 7 months now to West Bond, one of the most remote and challenging peaks to get to in the White Mountains.
|The Bond's ridge line from West Bond summit|
|Mt. Bond summit|
|View from Mt. Bond|
|A black and white take on the view of Bondcliff from Bond|
|Heading to Boncliff|
The Lincoln Woods Trail, now, was nothing like the Wilderness Trail. Although I had put on a long-sleeved shirt, I left my pant-legs off. Whether I walked as fast as I could or even jogged or ran, both mosquitos and black flies were taking chunks out of my legs. This was completely driving me insane, but it forced me to run, power walk, run, power walk, for 3 miles until finally the A-frame sign came into view, and then finally the suspension bridge. I was done - 38.6 miles, 10,800 feet of elevation gain, 12 4000-footers in just under 20 hours, matching the longest day hike I've ever done.
|Lincoln Woods suspension bridge|
|The Spot Track of the Extended Pemi Loop|
Thanks for reading! Stayed tuned....another milestone is coming up in two weeks as my brother and I get ready to finish the New England 4000-footers on North Brother in Maine. It will be the first time we'll finish a list together, and what better way for us brothers to finish on North Brother.
Trails: Lincoln Woods Trail, Osseo Trail, Franconia Ridge Trail, Garfield Ridge Trail, Frost Trail, Twinway, North Twin Spur, Bondcliff Trail, Wilderness Trail.
Distance: 38.9 mi.
Elevation Gain: 12,482 feet
Book Time: 19hrs 44min (12:10am to 7:54pm)