Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Two Days in the Pemigewasset Wilderness 7/8&9/12

Trip objectives: I needed to get off my butt and do at least a 2-day backpacking trip and stealth camp in the wilderness. I wanted to try and find a couple of the most remote old logging camps. And I wanted to bushwhack to an alpine zone on Mt. Bonds east ridge. The idea was to backpack to an area on the Thoreau Falls Trail near Jumping Brook, set up camp, and start hunting for some logging camps. That was to be day one. Day two would be to whack to the east ridge on Bond.  At first I was going to get to this area by using the Zealand Tr., to Ethan Pond Tr., to Thoreau Falls Tr. But I'd only been on the East Side Tr. Twice. Once for just a short distance to start a bushwhack and the second time it was on a overcast-rainy day just past the Franconia Brook Tentsite. So after reading a couple reports on The Mountain Wanderer's Blog of the East Side Trail and wonderful views along the way, I decided to do a longer and perhaps more tedious route to my target area. So the route was to be East Side Tr., to the Wilderness Tr., Thoreau Falls Tr. On my return the second day I did ford the Pemi East Branch down stream a bit from the removed bridge where I found a spot that I could mostly rock-hop and just had to go through 6' stretch of knee deep water that was moving at a moderate pace. Pretty safe but did the usual unclipping of all the straps on my backpack just in cast I fell. Then back to Lincoln Woods via the Wilderness and Lincoln Woods Trails. That's the gist of it.

I only completed objective #1, the overnight at a secluded spot. Because of a glitch on the outset, a 7:30 start turned into 10:30. With the late start I wasn't going to be able to check out any logging camps between there and where I was camping. Which I'd be passing a few. And with the miles I had and stopping to smell roses along the way (not worth the effort of you don't) I didn't get to my target area until 4pm. No time or desire then for logging camp hunting. But I did spend 4 glorious hours before bed enjoying this gorgeous remote area. In the morning I really only had 3 hrs before I wanted to start the long trek back. I decided to give camp 23a a go. Some hints I may be close but no luck. From what I've heard, a LOT, more time is needed to find this one. On the way back when I got to the Franconia Falls Trail I said to myself no way you can do this with another 3 miles still to go and a 2.5 hour drive home with it now being 3pm. That quickly changed to, no way you can not go there. Hadn't been to the falls since 2007. After that, 3 miles on the said to be, most boring trail in the Whites. Wasn't so bad, all things considered.

Heading out.

Views along the Pemi near Pine Island.

View from the bank just past the the Franconia Tentsites.

Another view further up the East Side Tr.

Some of Irenes wrath on the Wilderness Tr.

All that's left of the removed suspension bridge other than a large cable not in this photo. 

Thoreau Falls Trail bridge over the East Branch. Looks like it could be next to go.

Once on the Thoreau Falls Trail I saw some wildflowers, a couple artifacts, lots of straight railroad grade, and more Irene damage. I had a good fall at that spot.

Shortly after this damaged section the trail seemed to turn into more of a herd path. I'm not sure but I think this was some sort of a reroute because I was climbing and slabbing the west side of Shoal Pond Peak. I was near enough to where I wanted to cross the North Fork so I dropped down and did so. And in a matter of  10 minutes found home. What luck.

This spot probably just makes the 200' rule. I'd have to call this legally, nonlegal. As obviously a trace has been left. But there was no way I was dismantling that thing when I left. So here it would for the night, not to shabby. And this spot I believe is basically on the side-track bed going to camp 23.

After a great evening here, and a peaceful nights sleep I broke camp and set out with a small pack to hunt for camp 23a. Once while having a conversation with someone know who does this as more than just a hobby, said, (I believe), it took him 40 hours to find 23a once he stated looking. Hey, I could have gotten lucky. All I found was this cool remote pond at around 2200' and a peek-a-boo view if Mt. Bond.

I'd gone past my turn around time so I had to head back to camp to get my large pack and head out. Instead of crossing back to the messed up portion of the Thoreau Falls Tr, I decided to see if I could follow the North Fork branch of the railroad bed. I found that pretty easily and first found this memorial. Then an easy to follow rail bed. Which got me passed the damaged section of the trail and easily crossed back to the east side of the North Fork when it ended.

Jumping way ahead now. I crossed the East Branch Pemi and am now on the Wilderness Tr. I guess I didn't need to go so far to see old logging artifacts.

As I mentioned, I decided not to pass on going to Franconia Falls. Can you blame me? 8)

Now it was just the 3 mile, so called boring walk, on the Lincoln Woods Tr. back to Lincoln woods. On the way I did something for maybe the 3rd or 4th time on the journey. I went to the edge of the bank to take a picture not realizing 'til this last time I was standing on earth that was undercut by the high water from Irene.
Not the brightest thing I've ever done. One of the dumbest though.

The long and short of it is, I was skeptical on whether or not I'd enjoy a mostly low-level trip. Well....



  1. Joe, what a marvelous adventure into the real backcountry of the Whites!

    Even though all your goals were not met, it's the type of thing where it's really hard to go wrong. No matter what you do in those parts of the Pemi, it has to be rewarding!

    That campsite that you found was so terrific. As you said in your report, "what luck"!

    Overall, I think you were one happy camper, as demonstrated in the last photo of your blog report!


  2. Thanks John. Yes, a happy camper I was. I love the sense isolation you get when you're deep in Pemi. A very special place.

  3. Great trip and report, Joe! That is such a wonderful area out there. You found what the locals call "Joe Boyle Pond," named after one of the Boyle brothers who worked for J.E. Henry. Looks like quite a washout on Thoreau Falls Trail. Nice-looking campsite!


  4. Thank-you Steve. And thanks for history on the pond. This was a great trip but not too well thought out in regards to time required.

  5. Well, still sounds like you found a couple of neat gems just the same Joe and you got to use your backpacking equipment and enjoy the beauty of the area, which is nice all on its own, so not a loss at all!!

    Hiking Lady

  6. Thanks Hiking Lady. I didn't mean to sound so disappointed. No complaints here.