August 30: mile 1841: Ethan Pond Shelter

We woke up early set out to make a hefty 16 miles going up and down two 4000 footers — South Twin Mountain and Mount Zealand.  Wolf dog and Mona set out first and Dancing Bear, Dove, and I followed at about 7:00.  The weather was cold the night before getting down to the high 30s.  It was great hiking weather as temps inched up into the 50s by early morning and later into the 70s.  

South Twin is a 4900 foot mountain of which 1400 feet of climbing over two miles gets you to the top.  The summit was tree covered and did not give much of a view.  The ascent was pretty steep while the descent was extremely steep.  The descents are definitely much worse than going up.  You are bracing with both poles and hoping that the carbide tips hold on the rock while you support all of your weight jumping down. You do it so that if one slips you don’t do a header down the steep drop offs.  If both were to slip you would that header and be grievously busted up.  I had the displeasure of having both of my tips fail the day before.  So I got to brace with plastic tips until they could be replaced.  

I made it down much more slowly because of the broken tips.  We got to the bottom and traversed a platoe for a couple of miles before beginning the ascent of Zealand Mountain.  We stopped at Galehead Hut for lunch before continuing the ascent.  

A Hut in the White Range is a little lodge operated by the ATC that has bunks for rent and serves meals.  They are remote and at high altitude and also serve as emergency shelter for hikers in distress.  They are supplied by two helicopter drops per year and by supplies hiked in on the backs of the young people operating it. They are expensive costing between $120-150 for a simple single bunk.  A couple of thru hikers a day can work for stay at them by doing chores in exchange for sleeping on the floor.  They are cool to stop at for a hot bowl of soup or a muffin.

Dove, Dancing Bear and I stopped at the hut and eat our lunches there.  We then continued the hike up Zealand, another 4900 foot peak.  We got to the top and down over a couple of miles.  All three of us were really feeling the burn in our legs from days of sustained vertical ups and downs.  At the bottom of Zealand was another Hut called Zealand Falls Hut.  A pretty water fall tumbled down the mountain right next to the Hut.  We stopped again for another snack before hiking another five miles to a Shelter by Ethan Pond.  We were so tired we all slept in the shelter.  Tomorrow is a short hike into the Notch for a resupply before the assault on the infamous Mount Washington.  Happy Trails.

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