Welcome to the first post to the Outdoors NH blog page! I will regularly post stories about different experiences I have as I explore the outdoors of New Hampshire and perhaps the surrounding New England states, should my travels take me there. This first story is an account of my recent trek through the Pemigiwasset Wilderness near Lincoln, NH in the White Mountains. Enjoy!
I like a good physical challenge. So, when a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to trek 33 miles around the Pemi Wilderness in one day, I jumped right on board. This trip came with some juggling of my schedule, as I was away on business until the night I left my home in Southern NH for the White Mountains. The trip was worth every bit of exhaustion and time crunching I put into it.
We left the Manchester area late on a Saturday night and traveled to Lincoln, where one of my companions secured us a place to stay in a condo. This worked out great, since the next morning we were out the door at 3:45 a.m. and on the trail by 4:15. It was dark, foggy and rainy as my four friends and I began down the flat Lincoln Woods trail into the wilderness. Little did I know what lay ahead.
The flat of that first trail did not last long, as we hit the Osseo trail after about 20 minutes and began the first of many climbs. The Osseo takes hikers up to the Franconia Ridge (which is a great and beautiful hike in and of itself and can be accessed from the side of Interstate 93). The ridge would normally be crowd but because of the rain and fog we didn’t see any other day hikers there. From the ridge trail, my friends and I hopped on Garfield Ridge trail to Mount Garfield. Garfield roughly marks the halfwaypoint on this mammoth hike and since we were aiming to complete the hike in a day, we couldn’t rest long.
The next stretch of trail, which leads to the AMC Galehead hut, is several miles of pointless ups and downs (PUDS) and really drained my energy. The hut was a welcome site, as we were able to refill our water and grab a snack from the well-provisioned way station. For a small donation, hikers can buy an assortment of breads or a bowl of soup. You can also opt to make this a multi-day hike and stay overnight in the hut.
From the hut we hiked the out-and-back trail to Galehead. This was a little disappointing because the summit was little more than a pile of rocks in the woods. Fortunately we left our packs at the hut so we were able to bag this less than inspirational peak quickly and effortlessly. This easy hiking was even more appreciated as we began the next leg of our hike.
When we left the hut after picking up our packs, we jumped on the Twinways and began the ascent on South Twin. This was the worst part of the hike. The trail climbs over 1300 feet through the one mile segment of trail from the Galehead hut to the summit. These 1300 feet aren’t accomplished by switchbacks either. It’s 1300 feet of stair climbing and rock scrambling. Needless to say, I was panting and out of breath well before I summitted and drained of energy completely when I did. We were still about ten miles from completion, however, so we continued on.
The rest of the hike seemed somehow easier after the ascent of South Twin and we knocked out the remaining summits quickly. Mount Guyot, West Bond, Bond and Bondcliff passed quickly and it wasn’t long before we were descending into the woods again back towards the Lincoln Woods trail. One thing to note about those last peaks is the clouds finally broke and my friends and I experienced some fantastic White Mountain landscapes, especially as we summitted Bond and approached Bondcliff.
The last stretch of trail over the old rail bed that is the Lincoln Woods trail was, perhaps, the most mentally challenging portion of the hike. I say this because by the time I reached it, I was exhausted and sore and it seemed to stretch on forever. By the time you reach the river-side trail, there are still nearly five miles of hiking to complete and those five miles in the middle of the woods aren’t the same as five miles above tree line with beautiful vistas and fresh mountain-top air.
The hike finally ended just after 6:00 p.m., a little over 14 hours after we started. We summitted 11 of NH’s 4,000-footers, ascended over 10,000 total feet (about 18,000 total elevation change) and hiked 33 miles. We stopped back in our condo in Lincoln, ordered pizza from Elvio’s Pizzeria and showered before heading back to Southern NH. Thankfully my friends drove because I was asleep before we hit the highway. It had been a long week and this hike completely wiped out the rest of my energy.
This was an amazing hike. I recommend it to anyone. If you want to attempt it as a day hike, you need to be in peak physical condition. I also recommend completing it clockwise, as my post here recounts. This allows you to refill your water after the halfway marker. For more information and details on this hike, check out this website by David Albeck. Have a great hike!
You can also watch my video of this hike on YouTube!