Summer 2014 came and went with nary a rugged mile hiked the entire season! Not really sure what happened, but Kelly and I managed to get roped into everything aside from hiking. No regrets really – just no mountain climbing in 2014.
In May of 2105 we uncorked our bottled up zeal for arduous mountain adventure by doing what we do best: biting off way more than we can chew and getting ourselves good and committed. Of course we invited everyone we could think of (the final roster included Deb, Ruthie, Ben, myself and Kelly) and sallied forth into the Pemigewasset Wilderness armed with a smorgasbord of untested backpacks, unbroken boots, and ill-conditions legs.
Our original plan as proposed by Deb was to go summit Katahdin, but we learned at the last minute that Memorial day in Baxter closely resembles winter. Thusly, we aborted that plan and pivoted back to a known quantity: the Pemi Loop. We opted for a more ‘leisurely’ pace by splitting the circuit across 3 days and 2 nights. In hindsight I’m dubious that the 3 day pace is any easier than the overnight, simply due to the spectacular amount of gear that must be hauled to make multiple overnights comfortable. Anyway the hike was ultimately fun, if not a rude awakening for a first-outing-of-the-season.
Day one was the longest and most difficult day: we walked from Lincoln Woods Campground, over Franconia Ridge, all the way to the base of Garfield where we camped for the night. Franconia Ridge was hallmarked by spectacular winds and beautiful, clear skies. On day two we dragged our achy selves over Garfield (I’d say we all had some choice words for that mountain – both up and down), and then up and down a whole bunch more gnarly mountains which finally taper into the plateau-ish Bond Range where we were able to skulk into camp at Guyot Tentsite. We were among the last to arrive that night and were relegated to the lean-to shelter. Tents were uncalled for, but earplugs might have been nice. Day three was by far the easiest. You ease into the day with a gentle traverse of the Bonds featuring spectacular views of the Pemi and Franconia Ridge and eventually begin the long slow descent back toward Lincoln Woods. The hike from the bottom of the Bonds along an abandoned logging railway feels simply interminable and the monotony steadily builds toward a bursting point when suddenly you waltz out of the woods and into the parking lot. We wasted virtually no time in trading our boots for flip flops and hastily made our way back to town for some non-freeze-dried victuals. The Woodstock Inn Brewery, pre-ordained about 3 miles after we started hiking on Day One satiated our respective hungers and thirsts as well as ever, after which we sleepily traipsed back toward home, leaving behind a Memorial Weekend well spent.