Saturday, February 1, 2020
Start: AMC Highland Center/Crawford Notch
End: Zealand Hut
Elevation gain/loss: 5988’/5081′
After staying the night in the Shapleigh Bunkhouse, I was up at 6am. I ate breakfast at 6:30am and then walked over to the trailhead for a 7am start. I hiked up towards Mt Tom and then followed the A-Z Trail all the way to the Zealand Trail. From there, it was maybe .5 miles to the hut. I dropped off my overnight gear and food, and selected a bunk and refilled my water, and then headed back out. I hiked up to Zealand by way of Zeacliff, seeing a handful of people on their way down from Zealand, and I swear that trail section took an eternity. From Zealand summit, I went over Guyot and down to the intersection with Bondcliff Trail. I turned left and headed towards Guyot campsite and the Bonds. I took the spur towards West Bond, dropping pack for the quick 0.5mi there and back on the herdpath. I saw more than a dozen people, including a group of 6-8 people who were doing a Bonds traverse heading towards Zealand Road, so they would helpfully pack down the trail, since it was fairly soft between Zealand and West Bond. I met Tori at the intersection, who kindly introduced herself as following me on Instagram. We chatted a bit and then Tori and her hiking buddy took off for Bond. I met up with them and passed them on the descent of Bond towards Bondcliff. Tori caught up with me on Bondcliff and we chatted for maybe 10-15 minutes while I prepared myself to climb back up Bond. The return up Bond wasn’t too bad, and at the summit, I took a quick break and prepped myself to head back to the hut with no more stops.
As I descended Bond and headed towards the intersection near Guyot, I made sure to eat most of my water bottle filled with trail mix, since I knew staying hydrated and up on my calories would help make the end of my hike more pleasant. I managed to make good time up Guyot and Zealand, and then down down down to the hut, arriving by 6pm. The hut common room was completely packed with no obvious seats, and I knew I would be quickly overwhelmed, so I headed into the bunk room to change into dry clothes and get settled in a more calm environment.
The change of clothes helped me feel more settled and then I headed out into the common area. I rehydrated my dinner, made dessert, and drank lots of hot cocoa and water. I moved tables to be near a group of 4 folks, one of which had a pride sticker on their water bottle, playing Anomia. Over the evening, I made friends with Henry, Rachel, Francis, and Lija and we had a lot of fun chatting.
Also as it turns out, our hut croo member was Jarod, who was working Mizpah hut in 2014 when I was doing an AT section and he gave me free oatmeal. We had some fun conversations too! He also helped me hang up some of my clothes to dry on fancy racks that hang from the ceilings, since the racks are also over the dinner tables and I was worried about interrupting people.
I’m bedded down in a 4th high bunk by the ceiling (my choice) and feel fairly cozy. I think I’ll sleep well tonight after such a big day.