There are so many incredible hikes and backpacks to be enjoyed in the White Mountain National Forest. A few are standouts, though. One being the Zealand Notch Traverse — it’s one of our backpacking go-tos. It never disappoints. Mile for mile, few trails match this route’s quantity of sublime diversions. The distance is about ten miles, and with all of the elevation gain (about 1300-1400′ total) happening in the first hour or so, it really sets things up for a fun-focused trip. And what diversions might you ask? Well, there are three waterfalls, four ponds, three rivers, an historic rail grade, a saliva-inducing notch view, three bridges, a shelter, a cool view of an active slide, and a host of other little tid-bits.
The plan seemed to fit the wants and needs of the group that signed up for this women’s-only event so we went for it. On point for this trip was Redline Guide Arlette Laan — back in service as a guide now that she’s competed her incredible journey.
Arlette provided the written summary below.
Day one consisted of a stiff climb up to Ethan Pond where we took a good break and ate lunch. I showed some nifty tricks on setting up a tent on a tent platform (use sticks instead of stakes, attaching guy lines to metal rings when available). We tried out our water filters at the inlet of the pond and filled up some empty water bottles.
The last 2.5 miles were a lovely level walk on bog bridges. We stopped to admire some fallen over trees exposing shallow soil from which had sprouted a new garden. Soon we noticed the small stream down below and had some sweet views.
Then it was time to turn into the Wilderness and find our hidden tent site near Shoal Pond. This rarely visited trail had plenty of blueberries left for us to eat. Yum! The pond was beautiful and a somewhat challenging water source. Shallow with some scum on the bottom but we figured out how to get our water filtered.
The next morning some of us woke up to sounds of water splashing, possibly by a moose. Some just slept straight through (that may have been me). The next day had gorgeous weather and we enjoyed a side trip to Thoreau Falls. Then it was off to the Whitewall Slide and great open views towards Zeacliff. If we strained our eyes we could make out Zealand Hut in the distance.
The hike out on the Zealand trail was lovely as always and we happily celebrated our safe return to the parking lot. —Arlette
She also furnished some photos along with some of the ones guests took… check ’em out.