This weekend, in an act of adventure, we went backpacking. My parents came along to help carry the load. We drove up Zealand road (normally we ski it). Hiked up through Zealand notch, over to Thoreau Falls, and back down the other side until we were far enough into the Pemigewasset wilderness to make the second day reasonable. The flowers are about a month behind up there. We saw lots of lady slippers, a bunch of yellow flowers with leaves that look like lily of the valley, three trillium flowers in a north facing ravine, lots of trillium in seed, and some false salomon seal. The notch was gorgeous as always. We stopped to dip our toes in the cold water at the falls. Isaac did well for most of the day. He liked the water and tadpoles, but come evening, he got a little skittish.
Day two started out with an easy amble down the railroad grade. We discovered why Thoreau Falls trail is the low snow route for the Pemi ski through — it has a bridge across the Pemigewasset, albeit very rickety with a one person limit. From there we headed back north on the reverse track of the Pemi ski through. Among the things we spotted on the old railroad grade were — ties with spikes still in them, big iron pipes, a cook stove, cement bridge abutment and trestle basses, various metal hoops, and some bricks. The other place where I am familiar with turn of the last century logging is Dolly Sods in WV. There we have never found any concrete structures. We headed north on Shoal Pond trail. The state of the trail is not nearly as evident in the winter, but it is sorely in need of maintenance. There were places where we were pushing through pine trees, other times the trail was a muddy mess. To make matters worse it rained. Tyson’s feet were soaked from water brushing off the vegetation. And the old rough hewn board walks were treacherously slick. That being said, there were some pretty swamps. We camped by Shoal Pond. The rain held up long enough to pitch the tents, but it was raining solidly again during dinner. We did the bare minimum of cleanup and then hid in the tents. Isaac did better that day, picking up rocks at lunch and playing dry in the tent while the rest of us ate a wet dinner. Tyson, on the other hand, was feeling quite beat. The sloshing wet boots did not help. On the plus side, we had a true wilderness experience that day and did not see anyone else.
The third day was just a hike out. It was raining in the morning when we woke up, so we all procrastinated for a while. The trees were still dripping when we packed up. Since it was our last night out, I didn’t have to worry about how damp our gear was. From camp, we quickly intersected the AT which is a much better maintained and more populated trail. Then we retraced our outbound route through the notch. After the notch, we just ground down the miles until we got back to the parking lot. Tyson’s feet gave out about 200ft shy, but he gave them enough of a pep talk to make it all the way back.
The next item on the agenda is a shower.