Pemi Loop 3-night backpack, Aug 21-24 2023

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Ear Drum

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South Glastonbury CT
This past week I completed my first Pemi Loop, as a 3-night / 4-day solo backpack. Have previously summited all the 4000 footers but mostly from the various side trails up from the roads. My only prior backpacking experience in the area was a 2-day backpack over Bonds and Twins, with my hiking partner and mentor B the Hiker from this site, in winter conditions in early April a couple years ago. My backpack was a bit lighter this time around.

Met many wonderful folks along the way: Hut Cru on their days off, day hikers, Pemi Loopers doing it in everything from one to four days in either direction, and many AT section and thru hikers. One older couple from Illinois was doing the AT as out-and-back's, and had section hiked all but 250 miles so far as such. I said, you could hire a shuttle, and he replied, we want to do it this way, and will have hiked the trail twice when we are done. Neat! My overall moderate pace meant I had time for many trail and camp conversations each day, and never felt the need to hurry on to something else.

It was quite wonderful to connect all of the trails and summits along this classic route. I travelled the loop clockwise, beginning and ending at Lincoln Woods TH. Stayed at the official sites, Liberty Springs Tentsite, Garfield Ridge Shelter, and Guyot Shelter. Kudos to the Liberty Springs caretaker Mac, to Peter at Garfield Shelter, and to Becky at Guyot—all did a great job keeping things fun and organized, with full sites mid-week. It was a difficult yet epic and rewarding journey, from the first step to the last. Strava clocked it (slightly over-estimated in my opinion) as ~40 miles and ~11,000 ft elevation gain. In any event, this hike was for me an extraordinary experience of nature, views, hard climbs, and hard descents.

Took all the usual trails on the loop, and summited Flume and Liberty on day 1, Lincoln, Lafayette and Garfield on day 2, Garfield Ridge East Peak (NH 100 Highest #86 at 3589'), Galehead, South Twin, Guyot, and West Bond on day 3, and then Bond and Bondcliff on day 4. I considered going to North Twin and Zealand but didn't, and appreciated have a relaxed pace on the trail the whole way. I lingered for as long as I wished at each and every summit and viewpoint along the entire route. One highlight was my first sunset from a summit: after setting up camp at Guyot, I ran up to West Bond just as the sun was going behind the Franconia Ridge. Two other hikers there made for a nice summit gathering, and we descended together with headlamps to camp. The next day, I had Bondcliff all to myself for nearly a half-hour on the final morning, under perfectly clear and calm skies—pretty amazing.

I only drank unfiltered water from the three tent sites, plus Galehead Hut. Carried my filter as always, but it stayed in the bag; will post here if a stomach bug develops. I felt ok as all three are springs where one can see the water emerge from the ground. Long stretches of trail were pretty dry, but I cameled up each evening and morning at the water sources. I managed for once to not overpack food and snacks, subsisting on some freeze-dried meals, protein bars, and a pepperoni roll and amazing brownie from a local bakery here in Connecticut. Back at the car at the end, I was down to a couple of fruit roll-ups and some packets of Gu I've been carrying around for a while in case of a bonk emergency. I regretted leaving my smartwool fleece half-zip in the car at the last minute, as it was a tad colder than expected on nights 1 and 2, with sites exposed to wind rushing up. I had to sleep in my windbreaker jacket. One revelation for me: I can actually wear the same t-shirt for 4 days continuously while hiking, and not smell too bad at all. Is the sweat different when you're climbing or something? Wore Hoka Speedgoats; if you'd have asked me a year ago, I would have said I need big leather boots for this kind of hike. The trail runners were perfect, comfy and incredibly grippy the whole way.

Caught a perfect weather window last week, with rain just before and a forecast of hurricane-strength winds the day after for Washington. I saw one threatening cloud, coming over Lincoln from the north, just obscuring the top in mist—but it was gone by the time I reached the summit. The Franconia Ridge had some wind as it often does. I wore a bit of sunblock one afternoon. No bug spray needed, though I managed to develop a leak in my lemon eucalyptus oil repellent, catching it quickly and triple-bagging the thing. Found two quarters on the Twinway, right in the middle of the trail! Also found and returned to owners just ahead of me a Nalgene and a pair of glasses. Found another Nalgene bottle and carried it most of the way around and then home. Let me know the description if you're missing one.

It was nice to revisit all of these peaks with the full loop as the route, as it was all very familiar yet so different. I try to take different routes as I climb things again, but the weather, the light, the people, and yourself are all different each time. It was like a pilgrimage in some ways, a setting forth, settling in, struggling, getting somewhere, transforming oneself in the process. Learning you can do something hard. Then ending up right where you started—still yourself, but a little different now.

- Joseph Getter
 

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  • sunset on West Bond.jpg
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  • that slog up to South Twin.jpg
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  • view of Owls Head from Garfield.jpg
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  • Franconia Ridge.jpg
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  • Lafeyette ahead, cliffs below Garfield to right.jpg
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Last edited:
This is great! I am slow and would need at least four nights. Your choice of night time accommodations sounds good for my speed (well, maybe a 5th night for the old lady!).

Sweat smell - maybe backpacking diet influenced things.
 
This is great! I am slow and would need at least four nights. Your choice of night time accommodations sounds good for my speed (well, maybe a 5th night for the old lady!).

Sweat smell - maybe backpacking diet influenced things.
I intended to put on my second shirt as a clean shirt to sleep in, but it was cool enough that all sweat evaporated completely by the time bedtime (sleeping bag time?) rolled around.

There are so many options for this route, regarding where to stay, and how many days/nights, spurs, add-ons, the direction. I met a bunch of folks staying at Greenleaf and/or Galehead Huts -- they had relatively small/lighter packs (no tent, stove, meals, or sleeping bag).

Hope you can do it! Nothing like emplacing yourself in that wilderness.
 
We did a Semi-Pemi a few years ago. Lincoln Woods to 13 Falls campsite, up to Galehead for Luxury Night. Then South Twin, Guyot, Bonds. Camped out and back to the car the next day.
 
This past week I completed my first Pemi Loop, as a 3-night / 4-day solo backpack. Have previously summited all the 4000 footers but mostly from the various side trails up from the roads. My only prior backpacking experience in the area was a 2-day backpack over Bonds and Twins, with my hiking partner and mentor B the Hiker from this site, in winter conditions in early April a couple years ago. My backpack was a bit lighter this time around.

Met many wonderful folks along the way: Hut Cru on their days off, day hikers, Pemi Loopers doing it in everything from one to four days in either direction, and many AT section and thru hikers. One older couple from Illinois was doing the AT as out-and-back's, and had section hiked all but 250 miles so far as such. I said, you could hire a shuttle, and he replied, we want to do it this way, and will have hiked the trail twice when we are done. Neat! My overall moderate pace meant I had time for many trail and camp conversations each day, and never felt the need to hurry on to something else.

It was quite wonderful to connect all of the trails and summits along this classic route. I travelled the loop clockwise, beginning and ending at Lincoln Woods TH. Stayed at the official sites, Liberty Springs Tentsite, Garfield Ridge Shelter, and Guyot Shelter. Kudos to the Liberty Springs caretaker Mac, to Peter at Garfield Shelter, and to Becky at Guyot—all did a great job keeping things fun and organized, with full sites mid-week. It was a difficult yet epic and rewarding journey, from the first step to the last. Strava clocked it (slightly over-estimated in my opinion) as ~40 miles and ~11,000 ft elevation gain. In any event, this hike was for me an extraordinary experience of nature, views, hard climbs, and hard descents.

Took all the usual trails on the loop, and summited Flume and Liberty on day 1, Lincoln, Lafayette and Garfield on day 2, Garfield Ridge East Peak (NH 100 Highest #86 at 3589'), Galehead, South Twin, Guyot, and West Bond on day 3, and then Bond and Bondcliff on day 4. I considered going to North Twin and Zealand but didn't, and appreciated have a relaxed pace on the trail the whole way. I lingered for as long as I wished at each and every summit and viewpoint along the entire route. One highlight was my first sunset from a summit: after setting up camp at Guyot, I ran up to West Bond just as the sun was going behind the Franconia Ridge. Two other hikers there made for a nice summit gathering, and we descended together with headlamps to camp. The next day, I had Bondcliff all to myself for nearly a half-hour on the final morning, under perfectly clear and calm skies—pretty amazing.

I only drank unfiltered water from the three tent sites, plus Galehead Hut. Carried my filter as always, but it stayed in the bag; will post here if a stomach bug develops. I felt ok as all three are springs where one can see the water emerge from the ground. Long stretches of trail were pretty dry, but I cameled up each evening and morning at the water sources. I managed for once to not overpack food and snacks, subsisting on some freeze-dried meals, protein bars, and a pepperoni roll and amazing brownie from a local bakery here in Connecticut. Back at the car at the end, I was down to a couple of fruit roll-ups and some packets of Gu I've been carrying around for a while in case of a bonk emergency. I regretted leaving my smartwool fleece half-zip in the car at the last minute, as it was a tad colder than expected on nights 1 and 2, with sites exposed to wind rushing up. I had to sleep in my windbreaker jacket. One revelation for me: I can actually wear the same t-shirt for 4 days continuously while hiking, and not smell too bad at all. Is the sweat different when you're climbing or something? Wore Hoka Speedgoats; if you'd have asked me a year ago, I would have said I need big leather boots for this kind of hike. The trail runners were perfect, comfy and incredibly grippy the whole way.

Caught a perfect weather window last week, with rain just before and a forecast of hurricane-strength winds the day after for Washington. I saw one threatening cloud, coming over Lincoln from the north, just obscuring the top in mist—but it was gone by the time I reached the summit. The Franconia Ridge had some wind as it often does. I wore a bit of sunblock one afternoon. No bug spray needed, though I managed to develop a leak in my lemon eucalyptus oil repellent, catching it quickly and triple-bagging the thing. Found two quarters on the Twinway, right in the middle of the trail! Also found and returned to owners just ahead of me a Nalgene and a pair of glasses. Found another Nalgene bottle and carried it most of the way around and then home. Let me know the description if you're missing one.

It was nice to revisit all of these peaks with the full loop as the route, as it was all very familiar yet so different. I try to take different routes as I climb things again, but the weather, the light, the people, and yourself are all different each time. It was like a pilgrimage in some ways, a setting forth, settling in, struggling, getting somewhere, transforming oneself in the process. Learning you can do something hard. Then ending up right where you started—still yourself, but a little different now.

- Joseph Getter
No where else compares to S. Twin/Bonds/Guyot IMO and I was wondering why that may be to me in NH and it has to be the distance from roads. (That first statement you wrote made me laugh)
every time popping out of the woods there, I feel very in awe… “breath taking” can’t describe
You’re enthusiasm about the quarters is great! 😊
 
No where else compares to S. Twin/Bonds/Guyot IMO and I was wondering why that may be to me in NH and it has to be the distance from roads. (That first statement you wrote made me laugh)
every time popping out of the woods there, I feel very in awe… “breath taking” can’t describe
You’re enthusiasm about the quarters is great! 😊

There was a family on a mission to visit the most remote spot in each state, defined by distance from roads. NH's spot is in the eastern pemi about .25 off TFT near SPP.
 
I did the loop in 1985 as a two night trip, counter-clockwise. Had no notion of the Pemi Loop or the NH 48... I had vacation time to use and a new copy of the WM Guide, and it looked like a nice loop walk on the map. Spent the first night near Guyot shelter at either an overflow or stealth site near the side trail to the shelter, and the second night along the Osseo Trail by the Flume Slide trail. Again, not knowing about the NH 48, I skipped West Bond, N. Twin, and Galehead on that trip. I got all of those on subsequent trips (including my version of a Semi-Pemi, exiting the Twinway at Galehead to head back through the valley), and have crossed Bondcliff & Bond four times now. I'm hoping to finish my 48 on another overnight, tagging Owlshead, then heading up to Garfield (I need to redline that final section of the Franconia Brook Trail) and back to LW over the ridge. It's a beautiful area.
 
No where else compares to S. Twin/Bonds/Guyot IMO and I was wondering why that may be to me in NH and it has to be the distance from roads. (That first statement you wrote made me laugh)
every time popping out of the woods there, I feel very in awe… “breath taking” can’t describe
You’re enthusiasm about the quarters is great! 😊
right, it is so remote and quiet. No human-made structure to be seen in most places.
 
There was a family on a mission to visit the most remote spot in each state, defined by distance from roads. NH's spot is in the eastern pemi about .25 off TFT near SPP.
How interesting for a project! I recently took a look at the map and marked a spot in the eastern Pemi that looked like the most remote spot (defined as, far from a trail, to my eyes) in the Pemi wilderness.

I put a pin in at about halfway between Arethusa Falls and Shoal Pond Trail; and south of Ethan Pond, northwest of Mt Nancy. There's a little ridge there at about 3200'. Strava heatmap shows absolutely no tracks anywhere nearby. Perhaps a future bushwhacking goal!
 
How interesting for a project! I recently took a look at the map and marked a spot in the eastern Pemi that looked like the most remote spot (defined as, far from a trail, to my eyes) in the Pemi wilderness.

I put a pin in at about halfway between Arethusa Falls and Shoal Pond Trail; and south of Ethan Pond, northwest of Mt Nancy. There's a little ridge there at about 3200'. Strava heatmap shows absolutely no tracks anywhere nearby. Perhaps a future bushwhacking goal!

That area has been on my todo list for a while. I've always wanted to do a real Pemi loop along the entire Wilderness boundary.
 
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