Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Zealand Country: 7/1/19

There's always lots to see on a long summer's day trekking through the beautiful Zealand Valley and along Zealand Ridge

A new sign at the Zealand trailhead.

 First view of Zealand Ridge from the beaver wetlands along the Zealand Trail. The summit of Zealand Mountain was still socked in.

The linear bridge that replaced the old beloved Z-bridge.

Smooth walking on the grade of the late 1800s Zealand Valley Railroad, lumber baron J.E. Henry's first logging railroad.

One of several picturesque scenes along the Zealand Trail.

Zealand birches, legacy of the big 1903 forest fire.

Mt. Tom emerges from the clouds, viewed across a large wetland near the A-Z Trail junction.

Zealand Pond.

Zealand Falls tumbles willy-nilly over blocky granite ledges.

Hazy view of Mt. Carrigain from the porch at AMC's Zealand Falls Hut.

A WMNF backcountry ranger chats with two AT thru-hikers.

Expansive ledges on Whitewall Brook.

Mt. Tom rises above Zealand Pond.

Mountain Avens thrives on the ledges of Whitewall Brook.

A fine cascade below the trail's crossing of Whitewall Brook.

 The 1000-foot climb from the hut to Zeacliff is of the rocky grind-it-out variety.

Birch-and-fern glade beside the trail.

Even on a hazy day, Zeacliff's view of the eastern Pemigewasset Wilderness is in the top rank of White Mountain vistas.

 The ridges of Hancock sprawl for miles, with the gaping basin of Crystal Brook under the summit.

Whitewall Mountain on the east side of Zealand Notch, with Mt. Willey beyond.

Semi-floating bog bridges on the Twinway by the second view spur junction.

Great ledgy walking along the scrubby eastern end of Zealand Ridge. Labrador Tea in bloom on the right.

Most of the ridge walk to the summit of Zealand is mellow, but there is one steep section that scrambles up to Zeacliff Pond Peak.

One of three Gray Jays encountered atop Zeacliff Pond Peak. Mt. Hale in the background.

Much of the upper ridge appears to be a nearly continuous fir wave crammed with small conifers.

A sign marks the muddy spur to the true summit.

The viewless summit of Zealand. The brightness on the left is a vast fir wave on the west side.

The viewless summit of Zealand. The brightness on the left is a vast fir wave on the west side.

I had hoped to bushwhack north along the ridge from Zealand's summit to the top edge of the great talus slope on the west side. In the early 1990s friends and I twice climbed Zealand in late winter via this north ridge from the Little River valley, and enjoyed the unique and expansive vistas from the top of the talus. Sue Johnston traversed this ridge this past April. All of those trips were made over deep, firm snowpack. In summer it's a whole different story. Less than 1/10th mile from the summit I encountered wall-to-wall cripplebrush (to borrow a term from the Adirondacks): densely-packed small conifers laced with bony dead snags, both standing and fallen.

It would have taken an hour or more of intense effort to travel 1/4 mile through this stuff. Too late, too hot and too tired to tackle that.

 My consolation was a fine view of the Twins a short way into the cripplebrush.

North Twin, showcasing its great East Slide.

The bulky mass of South Twin.

A partial vista from Zeacliff Pond Peak.

On the way back across the ridge I made the side trip down to see Zeacliff Pond.

Mt. Carrigain looms across the water.

 From a ledge on the Twinway between the two Zeacliff view spurs, there's a nice view of Mt. Bond, Mt. Guyot and Zeacliff Pond Peak.

 Zoom on Mt. Bond and its bare eastern shoulder.

The blocky cliffs fronting Zeacliff Pond Peak.

Zeacliff beckoned for a second visit, now in late day light (amidst swarms of black flies).

The classic view of Mt. Carrigain, Carrigain Notch, and Mts. Lowell and Anderson.

Looking southeast.

A  remote bog down in the valley, with the summits of Shoal Pond Peak beyond.

A rocky descent back to the hut.

Evening at Zealand Pond.

Looking back at the length of Zealand Ridge: Zeacliff, Zeacliff Pond Peak and Zealand Mountain's summit.


  1. Very pretty! This area was among my favorites in the Whites. Those views of Carrigain from the hut...