Thursday, July 18, 2013


On a hot, humid day, Carol and I figured we would head into the Zealand Valley, and if the heat wasn't too bad, we would at least climb to Zeacliff for its incomparable views over the eastern Pemi Wilderness. As it turned out, it was certainly a warm day, but there was enough air movement at higher elevations to keep things reasonably comfortable, and we ended up doing the nice ridge walk out to the summit of Zealand Mountain.

Due to a morning appointment, we didn't hit the Zealand Trail until 10:15. After the rough section near the start, this is one of the nicest walks in the mountains with lots of stream, meadow and pond scenery. At 1.7 mi. we reached the first open beaver meadows with a glimpse of Zealand Ridge ahead.

We took a break after the short, steep climb to the AMC Zealand Falls Hut.

The ledges of Whitewall Brook are a great place to hang out on a hot day.

Looking out at Zealand Pond and Mt. Tom.

Lots of Mountain Avens  (Geum peckii) blooming on the ledges. This buttercup-like flower is found only in the White Mountains and on one island off the coast of Nova Scotia. It is a member of the rose family.

This cascade is found just below the Twinway's crossing of Whitewall Brook.

The crossing on a sluice-like ledge was easy, but was reportedly very difficult during high water in early July.

The climb to Zeacliff is a long, steady, rocky slog.

At midday the views from Zeacliff were pretty hazy, but still inspiring. 

I've always counted this among the "top ten" viewpoints in the Whites. I hung out here for a while while Carol continued up the ridge on the Twinway. I chatted for a while with "Whiteout," a thru-hiker from Missouri, a very nice young man. He was quite impressed with the total absence of civilization in the view from Zeacliff.

From ledges down near the edge, you get a good look at a remote beaver meadow in the valley south of the cliffs.

Keith D'Alessandro and I bushwhacked to this spot in 2006 and found a unique view up to the line of cliffs fronting the south side of Zealand Ridge.

Construction of these bog bridges on the Twinway in 2010 was partially funded by a donation from the AMC Four Thousand Footer Club, thanks to the support of many members who have hiked the 4K peaks.

The cliff-faced knob of Zeacliff Pond Peak in sight ahead.

Nice boreal forest along the Twinway. We love the mostly gentle walk along Zealand Ridge.

A ladder assists hikers on a steep ledgy pitch on Zeacliff Pond Peak. Here I met one of several groups participating in an AMC New Hampshire Chapter eight day hut-to-hut trip.

From a fir wave opening, a peek at the ledges on South Hale (aka Zealand), an interesting bushwhack peak on the NH 100 Highest list. Near this spot I saw a male spruce grouse, who scurried off the trail before I could get a picture.

A view of North Twin and its great eastern slide from Zeacliff Pond Peak.

Along the ridge I ran into Doug and Sue, regular customers at my store. They were doing a big loop over the Twins, Guyot, Zealand and Hale. They had seen Carol at the summit of Zealand.

There are many fir waves along the upper end of Zealand Ridge, more than I remember from a few years ago. Some of these areas are near-impossibly thick for bushwhacking.

Carol met me about 1/4 mile east of the summit and walked back up with me, and we spent a half-hour or so relaxing in the shade. Combined with her previous stop here, she had a summit stay of more than an hour - on Zealand, of all places! While we were hanging out here, we met Jeff and Christina, who were heading to Guyot Campsite and turned out to be near-neighbors of ours in Lincoln. As we were leaving, we saw a juvenile Gray Jay fly over, but it was apparently not yet used to seeking handouts from hikers.

The classic summit sign.

Heading back down the Twinway through a nice patch of firs. Farther along we met another friend, Kat Fiske, who was doing a Garfield Trail to Zealand Trail traverse with her dog.

At Zeacliff Pond Peak, I made a short but thick bushwhack to a clifftop ledge overlooking Zeacliff Pond and the eastern Pemi.

Another angle on the view.

A serious dropoff in front.

Carol and I then went down the side path to pretty little Zeacliff Pond, tucked into a bowl on the south side of Zeacliff Pond Peak.

A rough path leads behind the shore to a view of Mt. Carrigain across the water.

We returned to Zeacliff around 5:30, to find the view bathed in soft evening light.

The profile of the mighty Carrigain, lording it over the eastern Pemi.

To the NE, the Presidentials had broken free from their cloud cover.

The air was clearer than when we were here at noontime. The cliffs and slides of Whitewall Mountain were nicely illuminated.

The sprawling ridges of Mt. Hancock fill much of the southern horizon. The northern flanks of Hancock are completely trailless and are one of the wildest areas in the Whites.

Before heading down, I checked out the view of Mounts Bond and Guyot from the ledgy hump between the two Zeacliff spur paths.

A ferny birch glade down along the Twinway.

After filling up on water at the hut, we continued down past Zealand Falls.

Evening at Zealand Pond.

Last look back at the ridge where we spent a  most enjoyable summer day.


  1. It's nice to see that you and Carol are getting in some terrific hikes this summer!

    Regarding the AT thru-hiker who was impressed with the total absence of civilization in the view from Zeacliff. We are so blessed to have so many remote spots like this in the Whites.

    Regarding that spot where you saw a male spruce goose, I'm pretty sure that is the same spot where I saw one when hiking that segment of trail a couple of summers ago. Must be a favorite hang-out for the 'Spruce family'! :-)

    And lastly, regarding that rough path behind the shore at Zealand Pond, I've never tried that! Will definitely do so the next time I'm there. That's a nice view of Mt. Carrigain across the water.


    1. Thanks, John - considering the t-storms last night and today, we really lucked out on Tuesday as it actually cleared out more later in the day. I agree that we are blessed to have access to places like Zeacliff.

      I've seen Spruce Grouse several times over the years on Zealand Ridge, it's their kind of place.


    2. Ha! How funny! Just re-read my comments. I said 'spruce goose', rather than spruce grouse! Wonder how Howard Hughes crept into my psyche?! :-)


    3. John, That name does have a Zealnd connection - the Spruce Goose Ski Trail!


  2. Steve, I believe S. Hale is known as "Zeale" :)

    Love your blog reports as usual.


    1. Thanks, Greg - forgot to mention that. We always thought that name was a comment on peakbaggers as well as a combo of Zealand and Hale.