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Monday, October 4, 2010

Alex Takes the Guyot Challenge (and Revists Zealand), October 3, 2010

Zealand, Twinway, and Bondcliff trails. 13.6 miles roundtrip.

In eleven short weeks, Alex will continue her quest for the winter 4Ks. Since many of the roads leading to trailheads close in November and do not reopen until May, there will be times when we will have to walk two to six miles (along closed roads) just to get to the trailhead before doing the actual hike. Last year, this wasn't an issue, as there were plenty of mountains with open roads for us to climb. This year, however, we want the option of tackling almost anything we choose. Therefore, we need to start upping our mileage to make sure we feel fine and dandy for the arrival of December 22.

At first, Alex wanted to "start training" in a couple of weeks; she first asked to do Wildcat C this weekend. At the last minute, however, she chose Guyot, with the option of turning back at Zealand (11 miles roundtrip).

The morning was crisp and clear. We made great time as we briskly walked along the first (flat) two and a half miles toward Zealand Hut.

Thursday and Friday's heavy rainfalls had done a number on this bridge...

While there were certainly more than a few muddy sections, most of the trail and rocks were reasonably dry. I had expected a lot worse, considering the recent storm.

The ponds were beautiful, as always...

It took us about an hour to reach the first steep section of the's the rocky bit of trail just before the hut...

View from the hut...

The croo was cleaning up after having just served breakfast. I nipped in, bought a couple pieces of coffee cake, and nipped back out. Alex and I ate our treats on the hut's porch, in the bright morning sunlight.
After we wiped the crumbs from our faces, we carried on -- over the easily manageable water crossings, through a birch glade...

...up the steep and rocky mile... Zeacliff, where the view was spectacular.

The two of us took off our packs and sat a while, drinking in the view and chugging some hot chocolate. When we were ready, we continued onward...

...up some more steep and rocky bits....

....over a rotting wooden ladder.... Zealand! The viewless wonder of the NH48...and Alex's 70th 4K peak (by AMC standards).

After admiring the beautiful view of the trees, Alex and I sat and contemplated our options. We could turn back now or continue to Guyot...I left the decision up to Alex. She thought for a moment, then she declared that she wanted to eat her summit chocolate "on a boulder in the sunlight, on top of a mountain with beautiful views."

Onward to Guyot.

1.3 miles later, there it was.

We headed over...

...and ate our chocolate on a boulder in the sunlight, on top of a mountain with beautiful views.

After consuming vast quantities of sugar, we stood and prepared to go. I snapped a summit photo before leaving; Alex was her usual silly self.

Conversation during our descent was the usual animated and enjoyable affair; today's extra couple of miles didn't seem to put a damper on Alex's cheerful attitude.

Another happy day of hiking. Life is good.

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