Zealand Road 9/23/10
Middle Sugarloaf 2539' 9/23/10
Trestle Trail/Sugarloaf Trail
1.9 Miles 900' Elevation gain
Mount Hale 4054' 9/24/10
Zealand Road/Zealand Trail/Lend-A-Hand Trail/Hale Brook Trail
8.8 Miles 1950' Elevation gain
Kevin, Judy and Emma
We had the opportunity to get away again this weekend. We had been planning for a couple of months to attend a wedding of some hiker friends and as a gift I had offered to photograph their wedding. They agreed and so it was that Judy, Emma and I spent Thursday through Sunday camped at Sugarloaf Campground on Zealand Road in Twin Mountain and attended a small, but very well executed wedding up the road from the campground in the pastoral town of Bethlehem. The happy couple had rented a farmhouse which also had some mowed fields large enough for a tent in which to hold the reception.
Sunset on Middle Sugarloaf
I had shot a few weddings before, but never as a hired photographer, and although I was sure I could pull it off, I was a little nervous throughout the ceremony and reception, wanting to catch as much as possible of the day and do a good enough job that the newlyweds wouldn't hate me forever. I knew my own equipment would be lacking in the wedding department so we opted that i should use the groom's killer equipment, which added quite a bit to my anxiety as he shoots with Canon and I am diehard Nikon.
The fact that he had this killer equipment probably saved me from ruining the day by practically taking the pictures by itself. As far as the equipment goes, all I know is it was Canon. I believe the lens was 17-70 zoom. You'll have to talk to the groom. I'm not an equipment man, I just make pictures. When the wedding was over, I just gave him back the camera. He will download, arrange and post himself, so, as of this writing, I still haven't seen the photos themselves, except on the woefully inadequate playback screen that plagues all digital cameras. So, I have no idea how I did. No way to judge myself. Very weird feeling.
If you're still reading this, you're probably wondering, "Did they really hike?" Yes, we did. When we arrived Thursday we chose a site in Sugarloaf 1 and set up camp. Late in the afternoon we took the familiar hike from the campground out along Zealand Road and over the little bridge that crosses the Zealand River to where the trail starts on the southwest side of the bridge. By White Mountain standards this is a pretty short and sweet hike and we have spent many an afternoon on the summit of both of these bumps enjoying sunset, moonrise and a magnificent view of the Presidentials.
Along the Zealand Trail
On this trip we only visited Middle Sugarloaf and I set up in hopes of catching sunset and moonrise, though the sky had closed in with a thick haze. We stood around and marveled at the changing colors in the foliage and watched as the sun sank into a bank of clouds that had a few breaks and the hope was that the sun would shine through one of those breaks and bathe us and the Presidentials in some alpenglow, but it never materialized. As the sunset began to fade, the wind picked up and we took the queue to pick up our gear and think about heading down before total darkness. We finished the hike with headlamps as the moon peeked out from the clouds behind Mount Washington.
Summit of Hale
Later that night I took a walk along Zealand Road back down to the river and watched the moon dance through the clouds as I said a long prayer for my mother back at the nursing home. After I got back in my sleeping bag it began to pour. It rained as hard as it has ever rained while we were camping, and it kept me up in a watchful sleep most of the night. The rain tapered off toward dawn and we awoke to a wet, steamy world, not at all what you would expect in late September.
Base Road Fox. Red Fox Vulpes vulpes
For the day's hike we had planned to park at the Hale Brook Trail and walk the mile or so of Zealand Road to the start of the Zealand Trail, and that's what we did. Along the Zealand Trail the sun began to rise above the surrounding forest and shine down into the understory, lighting up the colorful shrub layers and making beams of light in the heavy mist which still hung in the air. It was quite beautiful, and we stopped many times just to look at the forest and revel in its damp splendor.
We crossed the beaver meadows and were dazzled by the brilliant foliage of the hardwood forests which surround the ponds. The skies remained bleak, but no matter as we walked along in the painted forest. At Zealand Falls we stopped for brunch, just below the namesake hut. From the hut the view down into Carrigain Notch was all but obscured by what I can only describe as steam as the heat of the day was lifting so much of the moisture from the previous night's rain back into the atmosphere that we could barely discern the various mountains to our south.
Middle Sugarloaf from Sugarloaf Campground
We did some more red lining by taking the Lend-A Hand Trail to the summit of Mount Hale, a nice trail through mixed forest that is reaching its peek during foliage season. From the summit we could detect that the sky was beginning to clear, and despite a slight breeze, the day was becoming hot as well as being oppressively humid. We had lunch and soaked up some sun before trekking down Hale Brook Trail back to the car. Nice day!
Sugarloaf Campground/Good Bye for Now
Friday night we got through supper before it was dark, cleaned up and after a fire crashed pretty early in preparation of the big day. Saturday dawned bright and beautiful, and after the sun chased a few clouds away, it became the nicest day on the trip. A perfect day for a wedding. As I've already stated I spent the day Saturday shooting and enjoying our friends wedding. We'll have to wait to see those pictures, but in the meantime, here are the ones I shot the rest of the weekend.
Full set of pics HERE: