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.
MORE COLOR, LESS WATER THIS TIME
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:
SHARING THE TRAIL
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
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
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2014 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil