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Pemi Loop
1 Photoset

2011-08-17  
mini location map2011-08-17
60 by photographer avataruphill_junkie
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Pemi LoopDartmouth-Lake Sunapee, NH
Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee, NH
Hiking avatar Aug 17 2011
uphill_junkie
Hiking32.00 Miles 9,450 AEG
Hiking32.00 Miles   11 Hrs   10 Mns   2.87 mph
9,450 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The Pemi Loop is rated the second toughest day hike in the country (Backpacker's magazine backpacker.com/may_2005_feature_hardest_dayhikes/destinations/8485). The X-factor for this hike is the "knee-hammering rocks". Boy, good thing I don't have bad knees, they weren't kidding! As is typical of hikes in the "granite state", the trails are full of them. This hike has been on my bucket list for the past couple years, and each year I've left here disappointed that I didn't get to it. People have flaked on me too many times, so I decided that this year I was going to do it solo if I had to. I wasn't going to count on anyone this time and leave here without conquering this hike once again. : rambo : As before, my friends who claimed they'd do this hike with me bailed, so I was planning on doing the entire thing alone until I somehow convinced (or manipulated, however you want to think of it :D ) 2 friends into doing the second half with me. The only part I really wasn't looking forward to doing alone was the last 10 miles, since it is a very monotonous and tedious trail of constant down and then 5 miles of flat, boring trail on an old railroad log track. The Pemigewasset Wilderness is one of the most beautiful places I've been to though, so any and all parts of this hike just seem worth it for the amazing panoramic views and the sea of green surrounding you!

So, getting back to my friends meeting me..... :whistle: .... we figured out if they took another particular trail from the opposite side of the wilderness, they could meet me at the hut that's at about the 1/2 way point in the hike, it'd be perfect. In theory, it was........

Here's my pseudo-breakdown of the day:

3:47 am - decided to get out of bed for good, even though alarm was set for 4 am. Couldn't sleep in anticipation of this day.

4:30 am - left the house for the hour & 1/2 drive to the trailhead.

5:47 am - pulled in the lot. Guess there's not as much traffic at 4:30 am (but there sure was quite a bit of fog!)

6 am sharp - wow, made my planned start time on the NOSE!!! That never happens! :) Chilly start, so started with my windbreaker on. Was a bit eerie since I was the only soul on trail. Even though it was light out, it is still a bit creepy! :scared: I had only seen and talked to one guy in the parking lot, then I was alone on the trail.

6:15 am - I started to think about a story my friend told me about some woman getting abducted in the woods when she set out for a hike. And then I remembered I told that guy what hike I was doing, and I couldn't stop looking back now all paranoid! What a way to start out the hike! I'm going to bitch slap my friend who told me that story the day before this hike! :D

6:20 am - I swear I turned around and saw someone about a couple hundred yards down the trail behind me :o , and that wouldn't be possible since I was hauling buns on that 1st mile plus and every time I turned around to look behind me that time, there was no one there. So I got to my junction to turn onto another trail, and I took out my pepper spray and decided to jog with it in hand. Damn friends telling stories!

7:50 am - had been going straight uphill for a while now, and figured I was in the safe zone. I came to my 1st outlook and had my 1st hunger pang (and what would turn out to be my ONLY one the entire day!) Stopped at an outlook to enjoy the view while eating a quick bar. Sweating profusely at this point.

side note: lost track of exact times after this, so times are approximates.

approx. 8ish - made it to my 1st summit of the 8 I'd be hitting along this route, Mt. Flume. The wind started kicking up since I was above treeline now. Decided to brave it for a while longer without the jacket.

approx. 8:30 am - saw my 1st humans of the day. Thru hikers, one being a dog! She's doing the whole AT!!! What an amazing feat for a dog! : app : Love talking to thru hikers! About 20 mins. later, I was on my 2nd summit, Mt. Liberty.

approx. 10ish - on the beautiful Francoinia Ridgeline Trail. Really breezy now, time for the windbreaker! Realizing I'm stopping to take too many pictures & better start hustling it if I want to get to the half-way hut to meet my friends at the planned (albeit approximate) time. Little Haystack is first, then Lincoln, then Layfayette. Got over Layfayette, which is the highest peak that I'd be doing out of the 8, at 5,242 ft), and was getting a bit concerned I'd not be able to make up time after all as I looked at the trail ahead of me. Nothing but and obstacle course of rocks! No running through this part!

Approx. 11ish - back into treeline on Garfield Ridge Trail after some more beautiful ridge hiking on nothing but big rocks & boulders. Once into treeline for a while, things were pretty wet & muddy after 2 straight days of rain. I saw what I thought was a fresh bear print! I had put my headphones on for a bit for some motivation, but when I saw that print, I thought to myself, 'maybe it's better to take them off so I can listen to any crackling in the woods'. :o After a few more of the prints, one was completely rounded and that's when I realized it was just a big dog print! Then a few minutes later, I found a collapsible dog bowl that someone had dropped. Whew! :D Hooked it to my pack and figured I'd find it's rightful owner at the hut I was headed to.

approx. 11:15ish - saw the hut in the distance, and boy did it look far! Came to a junction that told me I had 2.7 more miles to go. Looked at my watch and realized I had less than an hour to do what everyone said in the blogs I read about Pemi Loopers what was one of the toughest sections of the loop. There were supposedly tons of PUDs on this section (what New Englanders call Pointless Ups & Downs). At this point, I was recalculating in my head when my friends would be getting to the hut, and I figured if I made them wait at all, it would only be 15 mins. or so. So I just went as quickly as I could with the muddy, slippery, wet, rocky trail. Fortunately, after only seeing maybe 1/2 dozen people total so far today, I ran into one of the caretakers of one of the campsites in the area as he was hiking over near to where I was going. This meant I had company & conversation for the next hour. I was quite happy about that. He said he was grateful too, as I challenged his pace and he loved having company too. He spends 11 days at a time solo in the Whites at the campground (with the obvious exception of hikers/campers at his site). Boy did I think I stunk at that point - he was 10x worse!!! :yuck: But it sure was nice to have some conversation, and I made sure to stay in front of him. :lol:

Approx. 12:15ish - came to one of the steepest downhills of the day, and it was all granite boulders & rocks. There was literally a waterfall running down the middle of the trail from all the rain the previous 2 days. This was quite the tricky part to get through, but very cool!!!

Approx. 12:45 - I made it to the hut. Wahoo - 1/2 way point!!!!!!! I felt completely fine, and still was not hungry, but I thought I should probably eat something since I'd just hiked 16 miles on nothing but one protein bar. I ate one & 1/2 of the flatbread sandwiches I'd made and shared the rest with the St. Bernard whose bowl I had found, and whose foot prints had given me a "bear scare" for a few. :D My friends weren't there, so I fired up the cell phone to see if there was service. Indeed there was. Waited for all my messages to download to see if I'd gotten another bail out message. :roll: This was one of the friends who'd canceled on me previously. No messages, so I figured I'd wait until about 2 and then I'd need to get going to assure I'd be done before dark. It was great talking to people who were milling about the hut, but I have to admit I was getting a bit antsy and wanted to get going.

Approx. 1:30 - After looking around the bend 1000x to see if my friends were coming, I finally spot them! WAHOO!!!!!!!! I have company for my 2nd half! (Later this would turn out to be not so much of a WAHOO! ;) )

Approx. 2:10 - We gave them a break, refilled water, and finally set off for the rest of the journey. The 1st stretch of the trail to the top of S. Twin is supposedly one of the most rugged/rough footing/steep sections of the trail, gaining 1150 ft. in .08 mi. I was looking forward to this part, being that I love uphill and all ;) , but I was slowed down quite considerably by my friends (well, really just one of them, the other could keep up fine). I figured at this point, I wasn't worried about making any particular time, I was just grateful to have the company.

Approx. 2:25 and for the rest of the entire way, that one friend did nothing but complain and she was miserable! :( Her boots were too big and they had steel tipped toes, and she kept kicking rocks and making things worse! I had given her duct tape at the hut since she had a hot spot on one of her toes already, and she had to stop a couple times to re-do the tape and try to fix her boots. She was just plain miserable. Her husband and I carried her pack the entire hike, and I found her a hiking stick, and we were doing everything possible to try to make the mood stay light. But she kept asking what seemed to be every 100 ft. where we were and how much longer we had to go. At this point, my gps wasn't matching up to what the signs were saying, so I didn't want to rely on it. But according my to map and guesses as to where we were on that last long, never-ending trail, we still had a WAYS to go! I felt so incredibly badly for her, as I know how torturous it can be hiking on bad and hurting feet. I offered to switch shoes with her, but the size just wasn't right.

She was such a trooper and suffered through the rest of it, but complaining the entire way. At one point, we got to an intersection after what seemed like forever, and I got SO excited, because I thought we had gotten to the 3 mile stretch. Well, boy were we fooled when we came to another intersection almost 2 miles later and realized that was the actual 3 mile mark!! ](*,) :doh:

We were getting worried about darkness at this point, but I had my headlamp, and my other friend had brought a flashlight, so we figured we'd be okay. But at this point, we were going at a snail's pace due to my friend's feet. I would've been back to the car, driven to a bar and had a couple cold ones and been home by the time we got out of those woods!!!! ;) But we slowly went along as she limped her way out. Unfortunately, we didn't beat the darkness, and I apparently need new batteries in my headlamp. Had I thought I was actually going to need the thing, I'd have checked the batteries before putting it in my pack! :|

Approx. 8:45 - back to the car. I felt great, not tired at all, just incredibly happy to be done so I didn't have to listen to my poor friend being in torture anymore!!! :stretch: But I had just finished the second hardest day hike in the country!!! What an amazing feeling!!!! I still had to drive them 1/2 hr back to their car and then drive the hour and 1/2 home!

Approx. 11 pm - back home to my very upset dog who did not get to share this adventure with me! But he was happy to see me, and I was so happy to have that hike off my shoulders!!! I think next time I'll do it solo the whole way though...... :GB:
Trails: Lincoln Woods - Osseo - Franconia Ridge Trail - Garfield Ridge Trail - Twinway - Bondcliff - Lincoln Woods (excerpted from a Pemi Loop FAQ site: From the Lincoln Woods trailhead, the basic loop takes the Lincoln Woods Trail to the Osseo Trail. Just below the top of Mt Flume the Franconia Ridge Trail begins. It passes north over Mts Flume, Liberty, Little Haystack, Lincoln, and Lafayette. From the top of Mt Lafayette the Garfield Ridge Trail takes you easterly, over Mt Garfield, to the Galehead Hut. From there the Twinway climbs South Twin and then dips a bit southward to the summit of Mt Guyot, where you turn due south on the Bondcliff trail, passing over Bond and Bondcliff. At the south end of the Bondcliff Trail turn west on the Wilderness trail to rejoin the Lincoln Woods Trail.)

Side note: The fastest time on record was just set this past June at 6:46:10. This is unfathomable to me after being on some of those trails and thinking about how someone could run those! I wouldn't even want to do it that fast, as you miss out on all the amazingly beautiful scenery along this loop (isn't that the point??!! :D )

Side note: time is moving time & does not include the stops and the wait time for my friends.
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