Wednesday, October 5, 2011
ZEALAND VALLEY & NOTCH: 9/30/11
A half-day hike into the beautiful Zealand area, one of the most peaceful locales in the White Mountains. Though the red maples had mostly flamed out after a spectacular show reported by hikers a few days earlier, the scenery was nonetheless superb. This area was originally called "New Zealand" in the late 1800s, supposedly a humorous reference to its remoteness.
After an initial rather miserable rough and rocky section, the Zealand Trail is a very pleasant walk, mostly along the grade of timber baron J.E. Henry's logging railroad, which ran in the late 1880s. I call these the "halfway rocks," marking the 1.25 mi. mark of this 2.5 mi. trail.
In another half-mile, you get the first of several views of the surrounding mountains across beaver ponds, swamps and meadows. This is Zealand Ridge, with Zeacliff on the L and "Zeacliff Pond Peak" on the R.
Beavers have recently flooded the approach to the "Z-bridge."
New beaver pools and dams.
A typical Zealand scene.
Along the Zealand Trail.
A view across another beaver pond to Mt. Tom. This flat spot was reportedly a loading area during the logging railroad days.
Zeacliff Pond Peak seen across the north end of Zealand Pond.
Zeacliff over the south end of Zealand Pond.
Looking north to various spurs of Mt. Hale.
The Ethan Pond Trail heading south along the railroad grade from the Twinway/Zealand Trail junction.
My plan was to explore in Zealand Notch today. Rather than continue on the trail out to the spectacular open rocks, I decided to do some bushwhacking along the floor of the notch, starting off with a descent through these beautiful maples.
First I visited some cascades on Whitewall Brook that Ken Stampfer and I had found a couple of years ago.
Looking south down a long reach of Whitewall Brook.
As I made my way down the sometimes brushy floor of the notch, there were occasional peeks up at Zeacliff from meadowy spots.
There were some lovely birch glades down there.
A moose bed in one of the meadows. I was hoping I didn't run into a bull, it being the height of rutting season.
After whacking a good 3/4 mile, I came to an open area of meadows and beaver ponds, with a clear view up to Zeacliff.
The beaver dams here looked fairly recently refurbished, with quite a bit of mud in them.
After some poking around, I found a spot with a fine view of Whitewall Mountain rising above its namesake brook in the heart of Zealand Notch.
A closeup of the Whitewall cliffs. As I was preparing to leave this wonderful spot, I inadvertently dumped my camera into the brook, ker-plunk! I fished it out and tried to dry it off.
This is the kind of picture a point-and-shoot digital takes after being immersed in three feet of water. It then ceased operating entirely - Carol later told me trying to operate it after it's wet is the worst thing you can do. A week later, though, it's working again, but for how long, who knows? Despite my bonehead move, it was yet another rewarding visit to Zealand country.