Zealand-Bond Traverse Trip Report

July 14, 2007


Zealand Rd. parking > Zealand Tr. > Twinway > Bondcliff Tr. > West Bond Spur Tr. > Bondcliff Tr. > Wilderness Tr. > end at Lincoln Woods

Trip Report

This trip is its own brand of stupid. Why walk 19.5 mi. over five 4,000 footers? It’s not a “why not?” answer. Climbing these peaks from any option is long. Bondcliff is 10 mi. from Lincoln Woods and Zealand. That’s my justification. BTW, Guyot may not count, but it’s a peak in its own right.

The walk to Zealand Hut was uneventful and quick. The falls looked OK, not a lot of water. The front porch view was great as always. The walk to Zealand Mtn. wasn’t tough. Unfortunately no view from the summit, just a dead end in the woods similar to Galehead. The view to Whitewall Mt. was lovely and from the outlook I could see down the valley to Carrigan and Hancock. It was really nice on this clear day. The walk to Guyot was long and frustrating. The Zealand Ridge continues after the summit and the drops to a col which I had to climb out of to get to Guyot. It wasn’t a tough col, but I had expected something easier considering Guyot wasn’t an official peak. The trail map doesn’t represent the drop well.

It doesn’t do a good job of preparing you for Guyot, either. Once into the alpine, I found myself on a knob behind Guyot summit. I dropped down again (to the Twinway and Bondcliff Tr. junction) and then back up to Guyot’s summit. Guyot summit was wide open with a 360-degree view showing the climbs to Bond and West Bond clearly. The tip of Bondcliff was visible over the Bond/West Bond col. Finally, the crown jewels of the Whites were in view.

I ate lunch on Guyot and walked down to the Guyot/Bond col, where I entered the trees again. The trail climbed a bit to the West Bond Spur Tr., and now on it, I dropped to the Bond/West Bond col and then up to West Bond’s summit. Then the Wow! The summit view was extraordinary and spectacular: The whole of the western Pemi including Owl’s Head, the Franconia Ridge and north to South Twin. Bond and Bondcliff were also in view. And in Bondcliff I saw a mountain like no other in the Whites with sharp cliffs and open summit.

You can read plenty of those 19th century romantic, over the top blowhards who, after walking to the first hill with a view near the road, have a holy experience that should leave them speechless but compels them to crap their pen. If there is a summit view that qualifies for profuse elegance or otherwise, it’s clearly West Bond. I saw in Bondcliff a natural masterpiece. Other mountains wish they could look this cool. But for you and me, to see it takes some work. And it’s worth every step.

And speaking of steps, there were a lot more to go. I wasn’t halfway yet. I walked down West Bond’s spooky summit (it was small with steep sides and a steep grade immediately below and a drop to nowhere on its north and south sides). Back down into the trees and up to Bond, which wasn’t too far a walk. The alpine returned at Bond’s summit. Views there were south-facing. And there was Bondcliff again. I wasted no time on Bond. I had to get on to Bondcliff. The walk off of Bond in the alpine and along a rocky though moderately graded footpath. This was the spookiest trail yet – it often hugged cliffs and I was afraid of tripping on the krumholtz and rocks. The views of Bondcliff as I approached got better and better until finally it framed in the south view at the Bond/Bondcliff col.

The summit cliffs were even spookier. Trip and fall off and they’ll never find your body. Even better, there’s nothing living at this elevation that will eat what’s left of you. Well, maybe the flies will get something good. The views from the summit were a 360-degree wonder but not as good as West Bond’s and Bond’s views. This was my last view of the day. I was at the halfway point with 10 mi. to go.

The walk down was a moderate grade after a short scramble down a ledge just below the summit. The miles off the mountain were easy miles, but they seemed to never end. Finally the Bondcliff Tr. gave way to the Wilderness Tr. which was even worse. Flat, wide and straight, but it never ended. By the junction I was hurting in a few spots. I eventually developed a painful blister on the bottom of my left foot which made this suck-ass cake walk a trudge. Maybe a half mile before the Lincoln Woods Bridge I stared whistling the Colonel Bogey March. It helped take my mind off the blister.

Of note

  • 60s, mostly sunny, breezy of the ridge
  • saw about 20 other crazies like me doing variations of the this hike – Zealand out-and-back, Twins out-and-back, a Lincoln Woods to Zealand traverse, a Garfield Tentsite out-and-back and only a few backpackers
  • I walked at times with an older and a younger gentleman who finished their 4000 Footers on Bondcliff
  • I walked at times with an AT section hiker from the hut to Guyot. He had recently retired and had been section hiking for many years. He said this was his last because he and his wife thought he was getting too old to backpack. He was nearly done with the AT.
  • Possible alternatives: I’m not sure if there are any better alternatives. I could have backpacked, but then I’m hauling a big load over rough terrain. Is that a better way to go?
  • How I did it: Pop Tarts, granola bars, M&Ms, Snickers, mixed nuts, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, mixed nuts and a half gallon of Gatorade





Zealand Rd. start

0.0 mi.


Zealand Hut



Zealand Mtn. summit



Bondcliff Tr. Jct.



Mt. Guyot summit



West Bond summit



Mt. Bond summit



Bondcliff summit



Wilderness Tr. jct.



Lincoln Woods end




Click a thumbnail to view full size.
Lower Zealand Falls Lower Zealand Falls
Upper Zealand Falls Upper Zealand Falls
Zealand Hut Porch Zealand Hut Porch

The view to Carrigan (left) and Hancock (right) was as amazing as always.

Whitewall Mountain Whitewall Mountain

This mountain appears often in places that talk about Zealand because this is the best view at elevation.

Hancock from Zealand Hancock from Zealand

A view to Hancock (and the edge of Carrigan) from Zealand.

I made it to Zealand Mountain -- the crown jewels await! I'm on Zealand!

The summit is wooded, but the crown jewels of the Whites are not far off.

Zealand summit sign Zealand Summit Sign
Mt. Bond from Mt. Guyot Mt. Bond from Mt. Guyot
West Bond from Guyot West Bond from Guyot
West Bond Summit West Bond Summit
Bondcliff from West Bond Bondcliff from West Bond

Spectacular! The best view in the Whites.

Bond Summit Bond Summit
Bond Survey Marker Bond Survey Marker
Bondcliff from Bond Bondcliff from Bond
Bondcliff Bondcliff

The crown jewel of the Whites.

Bondcliff Summit Bondcliff Summit
West Bond Panorama West Bond Panorama