Friday, August 24, 2012

Day Trips Over Mount Hale, Galehead and Garfield

I'm up in beautiful New Hampshire on my last trip of the summer finishing up hiking all of the state's forty-eight four thousand foot mountains, and boy, it's pretty amazing so far.  Outside of waking up today with a really bad cold (hence the break today), I couldn't have asked for more: mostly sunny skies with temperatures in the seventies/ low eighties, success finding some pretty cheap campgrounds.  I even got to stop by a friend's lake house on the way up and catch up with a group of folks I hadn't seen in over a year.  While I'm physically feeling a whole lot better, mentally I'm still spent, so apologies for the scant amount of reflection in the rest of this post.  That said, there's definitely some epic pictures.

Two days ago I headed up through Crawford Notch to do a quick six-mile warmup hike over Mount Hale.  As you can see from the summit, it's less than impressive view, but the way back couldn't have been better.  I decided to head back out to NH302 via the Zealand Trail, which descends past both the AMC's Zealand Hut and Zealand Falls and levels off into an absolutely magnificent valley, my favorite in the White Mountains.

Summit of Mount Hale

Cascade at Zealand Falls

Flooded area in Zealand Valley
That night I camped at the Zealand Campground under a clear starry sky, with a site only costing me $16 for the night... both things which were quite beautiful.  I also had an amazing dinner at Cold Mountain Cafe, a place couldn't recommend strongly enough.

View from Galehead Hut
Yesterday saw me on a bit more ambitious hike over Mount Galehead and Mount Garfield.  The first leg of the journey up the Gale River Trail wasn't bad at all with a pretty moderate grade.  After briefing checking out a great view at the AMC's Galehead Hut, I quickly got up the Frost Trail to the once again unimpressive summit of Mount Galehead.  After heading back down to the hut for lunch and a bit of a break, I started across the ridge to Mount Garfield on the appropriately named Garfield Ridge trail... this was definitely the hard part and ate up a huge amount of my time.  My favorite part of this portion of the hike wasn't the scenery at all, but rather with a thru hiker named Laughing Dog who was heading south for Georgia on the Appalachian trail.  You can check out a great blog chronicling his journey here.  After finishing up my conversation with LDog at a trail junction, I climbed up to the steep summit of Mount Garfield and was treated absolutely amazing 360 views of the Pemigewasset Wilderness and nearby towns.  Particularly awesome was the view of Owl's Head Mountain at the heart of the wilderness area, a pretty difficult summit I attained not too long ago.  I got back out to the road down the easy but long Garfield Trail, and then had to unfortunately finish up the day on a mile and a half walk up the dirt road to my car. 

Garfield Ridge Trail

View of Owl's Head from atop Mount Garfield
When I have a bit more time, I'll post a 360 video from the top of Garfield to give a bit more of an idea what it looks like.  So wow, the next few days are going to be pretty nuts... some of my overnight gear isn't in the best shape and I have to work around changed plans for hiking with friends on Sunday, so I'm going to have to split up my Mount Bond overnight into two day trips.  Tomorrow will definitely be the most challenging, as I'll be starting a roughly twenty-two mile trip at sunrise over Mount Zealand, into the Bond peaks and then back.  Then Sunday I'll do a bit more modest hike to Mount Carrigain with some friends and finish up all of NH's big peaks on the Twins this Monday.  I'm hoping today has taken care of whatever ailed me this morning, as needing another day off might start putting me up against some tougher weather.

God's peace,

Dustin is a Masters of Divinity candidate in his second year of study at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. While seeking ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, his focus is on the intersection between worship, service and justice building in de-centralized faith communities unencumbered by a traditional church building. In his free time, Dustin really likes playing frisbee, hiking and pretending to know how to sing.

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