View Full Version : The Pemi Loop, finally a sucess!

03-17-2009, 05:27 PM
Don and I set off to do the Pemi loop this weekend. My pack weight with water was 42lbs and Dons was 46lbs. We had the most amazing weather! It was nice and cool, but not too cold and there were no clouds in the sky! Day one was a bit windy, but it wasn't even that bad! This had to have been the hardest 3 days we have done in the mountains so far!

We drove up Friday night and stayed in the Franconia Brook Hotel where we found a vibrating bed in our room! Well, it looked like the wires were gonna set fire to the room but we couldn't resist. Don popped in a quarter and it was funny! First it was quiet, but then it sounded like it kept getting louder! I could hear it during my shower! After a good laugh we went to bed. At 5am we got out of bed. We locked the key in the room and headed out only to realize that Don left his glasses in the room. We figured we would leave a message on the hotel answering machine, but someone answered at 5am! She let us in and we went on to get breakfast at Pegs and then head out to the trail. We were on the Lincoln Woods trail at 7am. Things went great and we made decent time up the trail. The top of Bondcliff trail was a bit of a bushwack, but nothing compared to what we were about to experience later that day! At BondCliff we saw some military jets dropping flares and doing some sort of manuevers. It was really cool! We marched on up to Bond and pushed through some pretty steady winds. At the top of Bond we had spectacular views of the entire Pemi Loop and The Presidential Range (as well as everything else near and far!). We snapped a few pictures and headed out to Guyot.
Twinway trail was a complete nightmare. The snow was so deep that it was hard to navigate (we only found one track in the woods and sometimes it was faint). It was a total schwack and only a hobbit could fit through it! The branches don't bend or break. Instead they poke you in the ribs, eyes, and face. They grab your pack and throw you on the ground so you are laying on your back like a turtle. At some points I was reduced to crawling! One time I pushed through a bunch of branches only to be greeted with a huge pungee stick that wailed me in the forehead leaving a nice bruise! Pine needles and bark got into my shirt and pants creating other problems! On battle with the branches ripped my watch right off my arm and broke the strap! We kept doubting that we were on the trail but when we checked our GPS we were right on! Finally after what felt like an eternity of schwacking we made it on top of Galehead Hut! We motored down the steep hill and hiked onto the Garfield Ridge tral where for a while the schwacking let up a bit! We were exhausted and it was 6pm so we found a place to camp and spent the night. Don found out that he punctured his sleeping pad and had to spend night on our packs. I had holes in everything I wore, including my backpack!
Day two we woke up at 5:30 and make breakfast and water. We were pretty pokey and didn't leave camp until 7:53am! Oh well, we were tired! We saw a solo hiker doing the pemi solo in the opposite direction of us just as we were packing up and got excited to push on. The climb up Garfield was grueling, but the views at the top were so spectacular! It was a bit windy up there so we had a quick snack and headed down the steep descent. We ran into some hikers at Garfield Pond that didn't bring snowshoes and postholed from Lafayette the day before. The post holes made for very frustrating travel because it kinda destroyed the trail! Shortly after the pond another schwacking session began. We couldn't wait to get on the ridgeline and away from the trees! Finally, we made above treeline! Then we were greeted with very slick ice on the ascent up Lafayette. I switched over to crampons and was more comfortable. When we got up Lafayette i was so awesome! What a view! We looked back at where we came from and were just so happy! We were very sore and tired, but that made it all okay. We trudged along to hit all of the summits on the ridge and enjoyed the views and spectacular weather! Before long we were back in the trees schwacking away! We found a killer campsite just below the summit of Liberty (it looked like a huge group stayed there the night before). We setup camp here at 5:30pm. It was a great night! Too great because we slept through our alarm clock the next morning!
Day three we woke up ready to finish. We packed up camp and were on the trail by 8:30 and then summitted Liberty! It was another perfect day! We had a very quick snack and headed out to Flume which was pretty exciting in the winter! After that it was all downhill to the car. On the steep parts I sat on my snowshoes and slid down the hill! We ran into a slight bit of schwacking, and then we were in the clear. We did the long boring march out of the woods via the Osseo Trail and onto the Lincoln Woods Trail. At that point we smelled so bad and were so tired we just wanted to get to the car. We did the last 1.4 miles in 30 minutes! We arrived at the car super tired but very proud! We finished the winter Pemi Loop! It was much harder than we anticipated! If it weren't for the schwacking it would have been a bit more enjoyable! This trip was nothing short of a sufferfest but it was also a lot of fun and the views made it all worthwhile! Now onto our next plan! We hope to tackle the presi traverse this weekend!

Check out our pictures at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kfolcik...7615377786341/ (http://www.flickr.com/photos/kfolcik/sets/72157615377786341/)

03-17-2009, 06:01 PM
Congratulations! I just finished clicking through the pictures--it was like watching two Energizer bunnies, except carrying those monster packs! I am very impressed. I know you two had been planning this for a long time. Hurray!

KD Talbot
03-17-2009, 07:52 PM
Literally! While I have been to all those mountaintops, I have not done them in one continuous loop. Amazing! All the more so to do it in winter. Looks like the mountain gods smiled on you throughout the trip. Perfect weather! Tough trip in ideal conditions. Great pics!


03-17-2009, 10:18 PM
You guys obviously did a lot of prep (and more than a bit of waiting) this year to finally knock this one off. It looks like it was definitely worth it. You certainly know how to pull off an epic hike. And now your going to follow it up with a presi? Amazing. Hope that one goes as well as this one did (with a bit less suffering). Looking forward to the next 300 pictures :) and coming along for the ride again.

03-18-2009, 06:29 AM
It was definately a waiting game this year! So many tries and such tough conditions. I think that we were both determined to finish (before winter officially ended) and we had a bit of luck with the weather thrown at us!
As for the presi traverse, hopefully we have decent weather! When we did it last year we could not see even 5 feet in front of us at times! It was fun and exciting, but it would be great to have a bit more visibility this year! :)

03-18-2009, 09:46 AM
You guys are amazing! My crampons are off to you. (My hat stays on my head)

Jimmy Legs and Little d
03-18-2009, 02:02 PM
What a terrific accomplishment! It's great fun going along with you and Don thru the pictures and report. Hope the weather holds out for you again this weekend. We have stayed at the Franconia Notch Motel many, many times over the years. Only tried the vibrating bed once. It's a nice place and reasonable. Nevia, who let you back in, is a real sweetheart. We actually had dinner with the prior owner, Ed O'Brien, who was in town yesterday.
little d

rockin rex
03-23-2009, 09:59 AM
Having tried to do the Pemi Traverse in one day and failed, watching you do it in winter blows me away. I made it up over the Bonds and to Garfield and then realized that if I continued on that half way over Franconia Ridge it would be head lamp time. I decided instead of pushing on to camp at Mount Garfield and do the other half the next day. I remember how exausted I was and can't fathom doing it in winter especially that section between Galehead hut and Mount Garfield. Your pictures are amazing and bring those memories flooding back. Congrats on such an acomplishment!!

03-29-2009, 04:22 PM
What a great hike and such a thorough, interesting and informative writeup! I have only done half of the loop and during the later summer. I am truly inspired by your accomplishment and photographs. The weather looked fantastic.

We came up the Garfield Trail a couple of years ago and stayed at the Garfield campsite (very steep section between there and the summit!). We were also surprised by the depth of the saddle between Garfield and Liberty. The North face ascent of Liberty was tremendous and looked especially challenging in the snow/ice.

I can't wait to get back out there this summer. Thanks again for your post and your wonderful photos.