Yes, Sunday's plan changed once again, this variation was conceived Saturday night. 26.2-ish miles (closer to 26.5 I think) hitting Zealand and the 3 Bonds.
Mutha's Trip Report (pics here): Here's the short version (long version will bubble up over the next few months).
- Trail conditions were exceptional. The route was packed out all the way to the Twinway and beyond. With only a few ambiguities (all of which resolved very quickly), the snowpack conditions could not have been easier. Crampons were the gear of the day and except for Bondcliff, which was almost completely devoid of snow/ice, conditions were rock solid, strong and impossible to improve upon.
- The single unexpected 'problem' was the height of the snowpack. It put us high in the trees and as a consequence we all have multiple slashes, stabs, bruises and bumps from interactions with the whips and swords of the forest canopy.
- The air was spectacularly clear, calm, dry and cloud-free.
- There is an incredible amount of snow out there. We crossed Zealand Brook on the way in, on a minor bushwhack. It involved climbing down an 8ft canyon wall, crossing, then up the other side. The vertical wall was about 1-2ft of natural bank, with 6ft of compacted snow on top. On the bushwhack, which was down low between the trailhead and the beaver dam, the snow surface was rock solid and allowed for fast travel through the woods.
- Standing on the 'Plank' caused vertigo in both MadDog and me. I think it was the steep, jumbled cliffs plunging down into the canyons (no perspective for the eye to latch onto).
- We agreed that West Bond and Bondcliff are the greatest spots to view the White Mountains.
tMail's Trip Report: Miles in the winter require two things great weather and great trail conditions we had that and then some!
Zealand road as we have established was our approach and yes it should be, fire bombed, bulldozed, dynamited, leveled and all bridges blown.
Conversation on the ascent included, italian, asian, and jewish mothers, Jethro Tull, YMCA, Mucho Macho Man, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, VT 100 nutrition, transvestites, MadDog's basement and the RI mafia. MD's uncle construction business, the ascent of Jerome up to Camel's Hump. The inadvertent bushwhack is very cool and crossing the Beaver Bond was awesome. Beavers are hard at work.
Zealand hut stop 1. We isolated the Hut Kittens quickly and chatted and were invited back for hot water, tea and hot chocolate on our return. Two kittens were quickly isolated for chatting secret password is New England Clam Chowder.
Zealand to the Twinway was spectacular despite MadDog having no desire to hit Zealand we forced him to and he gave the finger to the sign.
From Zealand to Bondcliff was great the snow was solid and trail well defined. The views nothing but spectacular. Conversation ranged from marriage counseling, MadDog's offspring, Mutha's Thanksgiving Turkey, Camel Hump Day, Romeo aka Peaches, Mutha's summer garden.
West Bond is nothing but spectacular and to me the best place to stand in the White Mountains far better than West Bond and no easy way to get there.
The Plank has become something special to MadDog and I he refused two winter ago to go near it this year he crawled onto it and actually stood up. The Plank is f'd up!
The return from Bondcliff (half way point) was excellent couple unknowns about MadDog
MadDog hates nutella
MadDog raced for 58 hours straight in some endurance race.
MadDog went to a Jimi Hendrix concert at age 11 in RI.
MadDog's favorite song is California Dream'n by the Mamas and the Papas.
The Zealand Jinx struck MadDog again 2 out of 3 times. MadDog had a shank tendon, boot tendon bang issue. MadDog hobbled back to Zealand hut for a wheel change.
At Zealand Hut while hanging out - out came Hut Kitten numero uno JoAnne and invited us in. The area outside Zealand in the dark at night is beautiful. We entered the hut and began to mingle. MadDog did his thing and Mutha did a constellation, moon thesis to people in the hut. Mutha also knew people in the hut. There was a significantly inbred family in the hut that did not smile, talk, or eat it was like we interrupted their inbreeding endeavor.
Anyway we also talked with the other Hut Kitten who lives in NYC.
Anyway the Hut Kittens wanted us to stay, several times we were asked but like Mucho Macho Men we geared up like pack mules and took the long road out.
All in all absolutely awesome day.
Side Note: MadDog was up for over 19 hours at which point his speech became slurred and was having trouble processing why we were at McDonalds - so was I but we ended up there in Littleton, NH.
26.5 miles, 3 Red Bulls and 21 hours later - I got the text message "I'm home. MD"
Also the Camel's Hump day was great - special thanks to DogMan and members of the Compound (Andrea, Trudy and Romeo) for hosting the great pizza and cake party!
MadDog's Trip Report: Before I go to bed for the night...let me just add to that
1. I arrive at staging area 1 in Danville, tmail is packed dressed brushing his teeth and ready to go. Mutha is still dishing out some incredible morning chow - with the hope of triggering some plumbing action. After a quick bowl, BAM, I pushed one out.
2. There's no need for headphones when walking with Mutha and Tmail, they're walking jukeboxes, with a couple of terabytes of storage.
3. The inital bushwack was great around the beaver ponds was just great - great ground conditions.
4. Mutha's ability to recall trails, and correlate them to maps - on the fly, is just stellar.
5. The atronomy jedi master and his disciple were hard at work on the exit, by the ponds, dissecting a sky that no magazine picture can match.
6. Kitty 1 was all over Val...in an instant.
7. This was first onto Zealand from that direction, can you say accelerated heart rate.
8. Thor Heyedahl
9. I really those blowdown sections sprinkled about between Guyot and Zealand.
10. Zealand can kiss my ass. What a waste of elevation.
11. We saw the ghost of the Pemi at least three times, after returning from Mutha and I tagged Owl's head.
12. For those who didn't partake in the festivities, on a number of occasions you came up in conversation and associated with some future outing. Can't wait!
13. Tmail doesn't give a rats ass about my fears...it's not question, suggestion or request..."Maddog, you're doing the plank."
14. Fitting these crazy things into 26.2 design pattern is ingenius, Mutha and Tmail. It gives you a reference model that you can check-in against and apply visualization - we joking did it throughout the afternoon and evening, it was great. We need to get Mutha to be a Boston bandit...some of the references he wasn't familiar with.
15. How do you know you're brain isnt running on all cyclinders...we reach the car, I drop my stuff, then a minute later gather my poles, and walk to the back of the car. Tmail's standing next to me, I'm trying to pack the poles and then look at them and say aloud, hmmm, won't fit - who's poles are these anyway? Tmail: Maddog, they're yours you just picked them up." Uh, right. Goodnight...zzzzzzz