Last October we managed to turn a rainy fall Saturday into a really nice day hiking through Zealand Valley to Thoreau Falls with great friends. There are probably no days that this isn't a beautiful place but fall is a particularly nice time. On that hike as we headed out Ethan Pond and past the Zeacliff trail junction I remarked that I'd really like to come back and do that trail someday. On the same weekend this year with a perfect sunny, clear bluebird day we got our chance! So on Sunday morning we headed up through Crawford Notch for day three of our amazing Columbus Day weekend trip.
After our meeting with the moose in Crawford Notch the morning before we had hoped we might meet another of the locals this morning. We pulled into the "scenic view" lot on 302 to check out the Mt Washington views and indeed met one of the locals, but not a moose. Jim Salge was also there capturing the beautiful morning light. For such a big expanse of mountains it certainly is a small world. We chatted with Jim for a few minutes and I grabbed a couple of shots before we headed off (which as I expected didn't capture the view anything like Jim's). Check out Jim's versions to see what the light was really like here: http://tinyurl.com/2cmkn9h and here: http://tinyurl.com/247fcje
Autumn and winter meet
The hike out through the valley on the Zealand and Ethan Pond trails was beautiful.
Arriving at the Zeacliff Trail junction we got a look across the valley at our destination.
The trail down into the valley is certainly steep and rocky but easy to negotiate.
At the bottom of the valley we crossed Whitewall Brook and found ourselves in one of the most beautiful, secluded spots that we've been in the Whites.
The trail up the other side was steep, rough and rocky as advertised. It was also great fun! Definitely better going up rather than down though. I feel bad for the folks that occasionally follow the Zeacliff trail signs from the Twinway thinking that it leads to Zeacliff and then finding themselves down here.
The walk through the large white birch glade on the top of the ridge was beautiful
There was a bit of fun ledge scrambling near the top (but nothing too tough).
Reaching the top we decided to turn left on the Twinway and make our way over to Zeacliff Pond. We'd skipped this little detour last time we went by and it seemed like it was worth the extra mile this time. Was it ever! What a beautiful little hidden gem. The views of Carrigain over the pond are awesome. Perfect spot to sit in solitude and have our lunch.
Heading back up the Twinway it was a quick trip out to Zeacliff. The views along the way of the northern Presi's gave us a good taste of what was ahead. There were quite a few people hanging out on the cliff (as expected) but we got ourselves a nice secluded spot at the very end and settled down for a long time to soak in the amazing views.
Presi views from the Twinway
The crowd on Zeacliff
Amazing Pemi vista
Looking like winter on high
Great place to hang out
But do you really need THIS close a look!?
Nothing but smiles for a place like this
We grudgingly pried ourselves away from the views and headed down to the hut. Lots of day trippers and weekend overnighters hanging out on the porch. We spent a bit of time hanging out on the rocks at the brook and checking out the valley views from a new angle before heading down.
Nice fall views from the hut
The hike down was nice and we shared the trail with another hiker from Boston who we'd run into several times on the way to the hut. Nice conversation made for a very enjoyable trip out. As we past the last of the beaver ponds the winds had died and left us with this beautiful reflection and great ways to reflect on a perfect day.
Lots more pictures here: http://picasaweb.google.com/mtruman42/Zeacliff101010#