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"The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail.  
Travel too fast and you miss all that you are traveling for."
~ Louis L'Amour
I did about the same hike today with Cody that we did two months ago, described in the July 29 entry. This time I added about a mile on the Ethan Pond Trail below Zealand Falls. Total distance was 6.65 miles.

During the two weeks we've been back in the Whites I've been hoping to climb Mt. Washington from a different direction than I went in July but the weather hasn't been conducive for that hike on any of the days when I could do it.

Today was no different -- overcast all day, no rain but 70 MPH winds predicted for the summit.

Since Zealand Falls is fairly close to our campground, at a much lower elevation than Washington's summit, and less exposed in forested terrain, I chose to do this hike instead.

I started at the trail head at the end of Zealand Road, off US 302 in the northern Whites, and went out and back on the Zealand Trail to the falls.

Instead of coming straight back on the Zealand Trail this time, I added a mile on the Ethan Pond Trail. It intersects with the Zealand Trail below the falls. Since this was Cody's longest hike in a while, I turned around after half a mile instead of continuing to Thoreau Falls.

Above and below:  Paper-bark birch trees on the Ethan Pond Trail

This part of Ethan Pond Trail is very smooth, one of the few places in the White Mountains that I remember being able to actually run during my A.T. Adventure Run-Hike.


The trail looked different today, compared to when I hiked it in July, because of all the clouds and early autumn leaf color.

Most of the hardwood trees and shrubs are still green on this date at the lower elevations of about 2,100 to 2,200 feet near the trailhead: 

As the trail gradually gained elevation I began seeing colorful foliage here and there:



More leaves have turned at the 2,400 to 2,600-foot level, the highest I got today.

There are several kinds of deciduous shrubs and trees (birch, maples, etc.) growing among the spruce and firs.






The water in the streams and Zealand Falls was running significantly higher in July than it was today. The upside was less water to slosh through on the trail. The downside was Zealand Falls being a little less interesting today.

The leaf colors on nearby trees compensated for that and only got more intense in the next week before we left the area.


Paper-bark birch trees add additional color to the forest.

Although their leaves aren't turning yellow and gold yet below 3,000 feet, their distinctive trunks are always interesting to observe:


The marsh areas and ponds are also beginning to show some color:




I didn't take Casey on this hike because I anticipated a lot of people on the trail on a Saturday. She's too eager to meet every person and dog she sees. She would have totally worn me out.

It was a good decision to take Cody instead. I saw even more hikers than I expected -- at least 150 out and back on the Zealand Trail. Most were going to or from Zealand Hut, which is about 1/4 mile above Zealand Falls. I didn't see anyone on the short section of the Ethan Pond Trail I hiked today.

Cody enjoyed gently greeting all the hikers and other dogs. He did fine on the hike and handled all the rocks and steps better than I did.  


I talked several minutes with a 60-something woman as I was carefully going down the very steep rock "steps" from Zealand Falls. She had double knee replacements in February and this was her second moderately-difficult hike with her new knees.

Her doc had no problems doing both of her knees the same day because she was in excellent physical condition. Her recovery went very well.

Every time I meet someone on the trail with one or two knee replacements it gives me more hope that I can continue to at least hike mountains after getting mine replaced, even though I know I'll never be able to run again.

Next entry:  discovering a very cool (and even more colorful) place -- Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2014 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil