Saturday, September 3, 2011

Zealand Mountain - Hiking

Zealand Mountain (4,260ft)
Elevation Gain: 2,300ft
Trails: Zealand, Twinway Trail/Appalachian Trail
Hut: Zealand Falls
Distance: 11.4 miles roundtrip
Duration: 7.5 hrs (includes stops and breaks)

My 4000+ Peaks #11
Listed 4000+: #31
Difficulty: Moderate/Strenuous

My 11th, yup! CHECK! Since my solo hike to Mounts Lafayette and Lincoln, I've been off from hiking for two weeks. With Irene's wrath, it didn't look like we were going to get to Zeacliff and Zealand. But at the last moment the roads were opened and the New England Over 50 Hiking Group was good to go! The trailhead parking lot is easy to find, at the very end of Zealand Road, and had we hiked this during winter when Zealand Road is closed to traffic, it would have added on another 7 miles roundtrip to our hike.

I wasn't the only hiker celebrating a peak bag on this hike, Mary and Lora were also peakbagging. And Janet, who was with me on my first peak bag to Mt. Pierce, was celebrating her 48th. 20 of us met up at the Zealand trailhead, with 4 hikers already ahead on the trail by 2 hours. 


The temps were cool at the trailhead, and our group started up the Zealand trail. I was pleasantly surprised on how pretty this trail is. The gradual elevation gain encouraged me to wear my camera out on the ascent. There were several spots in the trail that were eroded from Irene, and Zealand Pond was slightly high. 



The Zealand Trail to the Zealand Falls Hut was gradual except for the last 50 yards or so leading up to the hut. Although a short climb, the steep rock steps reminded me of my hike to Mt. Tecumseh, rocky but easy to navigate. At the hut our group rested a bit and took photos at the viewpoint of the Zealand Falls.







At this point, some of the group members continued up the Twinway Trail towards the Zeacliff Lookout. The others were headed up towards the lookout after resting a bit more. The trail ascended moderately and leveled out at the side path to the Zeacliff Lookout. At the Zeacliff Lookout we rested a bit and took photos.

After photos we continued on towards the Zealand summit.





 The trail reached a small cairn marking the a side path to the right
that runs almost 0.1 miles to the true summit of the Zealand summit.
At the summit there were several other members of our group waiting to surprise Janet on her 48th! As we arrived to the wooded summit, they blew their whistles! It was so fun to help her celebrate her 48th! Her son brought up a bottle of bubbly as well! :)

There were threats of rain, but it held off and we only had cloudly skies.....not such a big deal since the summit is wooded without any views. The hike up was hot and humid but the summit was a relief with cooler temps! We descended following the same trails we came up, stopping for a brief rest at the Zealand Falls Hut. Except for a bit of humidity on the way up, it was a great hike!

A Zealand Falls Hut Croo member bringing supplies!

 

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