Monday, July 8, 2013

Shoal Pond Peak Attempt 7/5/2013

I'm down to single digits on my quest to complete the NH200. I had a successful trip up to Colebrook on Thuraday bagging a couiple more and thought Friday I'd just do something easy with views. I was all set to head out early and hit my favorite peak in the Franconia's, Mt Liberty. But greed got the better of me and switched it up to a long trek to bag Shoal Pond Peak. For those who don't know the peak, this is it from Zeacliff.

It's fairly deep in the Pemi Wilderness and no short route to it. I chose the Zealand Trail, to Ethen Pond Trail, to Shoal Pond Trail, to the start of the whack. That's about 6 miles right there. I started out at 7:30 and the temps didn't feel too bad. I love the woods in first mile if the Zealand Trail. Where I found this Garter Snake taking in the sun.

Then I came to the new bridge that spans the beaver ponds. What an undertaking that must have been. Thank-you to all involved. 

View from the bridge.

Next up Zealand Pond and a super-zoom of East Hale. Another spot I almost decided to head to instead of this death march in the heat.

Now on to perhaps the most breath taking, low level section of trail in the WMNF. The open section of the Ethan Pond Trail in Zealand Notch. By far my favorite low level trail.

One of the best spots for break around.

The breeze was cooling  here but I needed to push on. In about another half hour I was at my next junction, the Shoal Pond Trail.

I'd heard stories about this trail and it didn't disappoint. It was a wet, muddy, boggy mess. I did pass through, one, nice section. ;-) 

From several people I know who's already done Shoal Pond Peak, there are several approaches. I chose to go up from the east side only to see Shoal Pond. I'd heard stories about that too and it did not disappoint either.
Carrigain over Shoal Pond

Zeacliff and Whitewall over Shoal Pond

Not sure about the time at this point but the temps had easily risen 20* and the air was thick. As well as the black flies and especially the deer flies. I hiked about a 1/4 mile past Shoal Pond and started the bushwhack where the woods looked good.

From there it just got plain ugly. I've come to the conclusion that this area in general has the right conditions for hobblebush to thrive. This mountain was no different. This photo does not show the worst of it.

What I was pushing through, for what seemed to be an eternity, averaged shoulder to head height. The deer flies were the worst I've ever encountered. What's left on the hobblebush after the blooms have gone by is a heavy brown dust. It was getting in my eyes and down my throat. I'd inhaled at least one deer fly and because of repeatedly applying deet, I starting getting violently sick and was having a had time breathing. I litterally felt I was in danger and had to get out out the woods as quick as I could. In an hour, I'd only made it to the col between the NE bump and the North bump of SPP at 2600'. I could not return the way I'd come and thought the best thing to do would be to head for the Thoreau Falls Tr. I just needed open space to breath.
Thank-you trail.

I was sooo wiped out from the bushwhack that the climb up to the falls was difficult in my state. My only hope was that I'd be able to cross at the falls on trail and not have to bushwhack up stream to find a good spot. Luckily I was able to hop from one side to the other. And a much needed break to cool, and settle down was taken hear.

After eating, drinking, soaking my head and composing myself, I moved on. Back in great spirits hear with it's views and breeze.

When passing Zealand Pond I super-zoomed the Falls. I really wish I was doing what they were. :)

Feeling much better now, I decided check out what caused the demise of the large beaver pond along the Zealand Trail that I assume has been for many years. From all accounts it drained sometime this spring. So I braved the now mud flats to check it out. 
The results.

The cause.

Back to the new Bridge. Just a great job by all.

Then finally out. 

I can easily say, even with all the winter hiking I've done, this is the most danger I put myself in. Should have gone with Mt Liberty. What's that they say about never second guessing? 8)