Roadwalk, Hale Brook, Lend-a-hand, Zealand Trail, Roadwalk
8:45A – 4:30P
Christmas Day turns into a sloggy grind as Lucy and I work through deep wet snow and torrid water crossings as we work all day in order to see limited views and get soaked to the bone. Warmer temperatures make crossings difficult and even impassable in some instances. Wet snow up to my knees on a Hale face bushwack make for long miles in snowshoes. It is always a pleasure to hike, just maybe not so much today…
It was raining in Deerfield when I left. I had hoped it would be snow up North. It wasn’t. I had a few plans for the evening. When I got up north I opted out of all of them in order to get some sleep for the morning. When I woke up it was still raining. Reports stated that it would end in the morning. I waited it out. When I thought it to be decent we started the road walk into Hale brook trail. The plan was to grab Hale for my winter list and go down Lend-a-hand trail for my first time in order to meet up with Zealand for my December grid list. I nabbed Zealand last February so I already have it off the winter list.
Once on the Hale Brook Trail I had to put on my snowshoes as the wet snow was giving in the warm temperatures. We worked our way to the brook crossing before the grade incline to the ridge. Once we got there I noticed the water was high and I could not find a place to cross. I tried to work up the hill a bit to see a better place to cross. I saw nothing and the steep grades made if very hard for me to keep along the brook. I knew the trail would come back across the front of the mountain. I decided to just make my way up the steep face of Hale. This was a terrible idea, but I wanted to get this peak. I tried last winter and I had bad conditions so I had a grudge. The hike was exhausting in the deep wet snow, but after about an hour or so I caught up with the trail just below the summit. Lucy and I bagged the peak quickly and we started down the lend-a-hand.
This trail was terrible. It was washed out completely from the weather and it was very slow going. There were times when I had to hold lucy and work across up to knee deep water in the trail ways. We made slow time working through this and we reached twinway in about an hour. Zealand falls was a mess. It was very hard to pass the water after the junction, and it was nearly 6 miles to Zealand and back on the way out though the road walk I came in. If it was this bad up here I felt it would also be bad below the Zealand hut just below us. I decided not to press on.
We made our way down Zealand trail past the hut. It was completely washed out. It took me a good while to work out of the mess and I fell in one of the crossings getting myself fairly soaked. I changed my top layers and moved on with boot filling with water. The road walk went quickly though and I was out before too long. Just before dark. I was glad I turned around because I feel that navigating the Zealand falls terrain with Lucy could have been treacherous and I would rather not take chances like that especially when I have a couple of days I can devote to hiking. In this case it is better to turn back and hike the next hike refreshed.
If you plan on getting these mountains in the following days I warn of heavy water and slow going. Follow the weather reports in hopes of snow hardening up in the colder temps.