NE 4,000 Footers
NE 100 Highest
NH 4,000 Footers
NH 100 Highest
NH 52 With A View
NH Belknap Range
NH Ossipee 10
Trailheads, measurements, times, distances, and maps are all approximate and relative to the hike(s) as shown below.
Looking up the Bondcliff Trail just below the treeline
Route: Lincoln Woods Trail, Wilderness Trail, Bondcliff Trail, (Bondcliff), Bondcliff Trail, (Bondcliff), Bondcliff Trail, (Bondcliff), Bondcliff Trail, Wilderness Trail, Lincoln Woods Trail
Rarely is there a day in which I want to wake up at 3:30 AM. Wanting to do the Bonds in winter, however, was enough to persuade me to do just that. Since I heard the trails were broken out, people might be coming from the other direction, and the day-before-weather-forecasts were looking decent, I figured I'd roll the dice and go for a very early start - thus giving me as much daylight as possible in the actual mountains.
Arriving at Lincoln Woods at 5:30, I stumbled around a bit trying to find the kosher way to the bridge - the stairway I used in spring/summer was closed for the winter. After figuring out that I needed to head north along a footpath and then back south to the bridge, I was good to go.
While I was hoping to go sans-headlamp on the Lincoln Woods Trail, the clouds and falling snow kept things dark and thus necessitated artificial light for the first few miles. Not a particularly big fan of these long, flat, straight railroad grades, the narrow beam of light seemed to make things pass by at a decent pace.
While I could have barebooted the Lincoln Woods Trail, I chose to snowshoe it. After crossing over the bridge and continuing on the Wilderness Trail, daylight was finally approaching. With the light, this section of trail seemed to drag on big time. Finally at the Bondcliff Trail junction, I soon met up with another hiker with a similar itinerary. Continuing nonestop, I made decent time up the flat-then-fairly-gradual (with the exception of a short scramble just past the alpine zone sign) Bondcliff Trail, finally stopping at the alpine zone warning sign. With the exception of one non-bridged-water-crossing and a few drifted sections of trail, it was fairly smooth sailing to this point. Gearing up for the winds I could hear in the distance, I was soon ready to give it a go. Emerging from the trees, I could see I had decent views. As I approached the highpoint on Bondcliff, I could also see (and feel and hear) that I had decent winds to deal with. While the actual highpoint wasn't overly windy, just about everything beyond it was. Though I was knocked over only twice (only?), I was struggling with the powerful gusts of wind. Powering up in the Pemi, the winds were accelerating as they funneled their way up between Bondcliff and West Bond. As a result of the explosive gusts, I had many 5 foot long strides - I'd attempt to step a foot forward and instead find my foot landing five feet to the side.
Not too far from the low point, I was running out of rocks to take cover behind during the gusts. My intent was to get as close as I could to the base of Bond, so that I could accurately gauge whether or not the wind was hitting the exposed portion of the trail that climbs that peak. My questions were soon answered as I saw snow kicking up all around that section of trail.
Very perturbed, I turned back and slowly returned to Bondcliff. Once there, I attempted to call and get a weather forecast. Unfortunately, though I had two bars of reception, I couldn't seem to actually get a call to connect. Even more perturbed, I retreated to the treeline and decided to wait for other folks to show up.
A few minutes later, a team of three of us formed and prepared for another attempt at the ridge. While the others suited up, I decided to try toe warmers for the first time ever. Unfortunately, one of them didn't stick well at all and thus became a heel warmer.
Once again, Bondcliff was attainable. As we continued beyond, however, a person in our group was knocked over and pinned to the ground by a particularly long gust of wind - that was the only hint we needed. Just like the Johnny Rebs, it was time to retreat to the south!
Back below treeline, we ran into a few other groups of hikers hoping to cross the ridge. While I was tempted to head back up and give it one more go, the current day forecast one of them had seen was enough to convince me it wasn't worth the try - 60-85 mile per hour winds on the MWO forecast!
After having a quick lunch with the other two folks, I soon accelerated my pace down (they had skis down low, so I figured they'd catch up to me on my snowshoes). As I descended, the ball of my foot (the one with the mislocated toe warmer) became rather sore. Taking out the toe warmer, I hoped all would be well. Nope! Every single step resulted in decent pain in the ball of that foot, which then radiated to the toes.
After a good 7 miles of pain, I finally reached Lincoln Woods in daylight. A long, long day with mixed results at best.
Getting To Trailhead:
||Saturday, January 24, 2009|
|Hike Time Elapsed:
|Hike Vertical Gain:
The Lincoln Woods Trail trailhead
The windy ridge with Mt. Bond in the background
Looking at Owl's Head from near the Bondcliff summit
Directions to trailhead: Take Route 112 East from I-93 past Loon to the Lincoln Woods WMNF fee parking area (left side of road).
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