Solo Bonds Traverse, to complete the Winter NH 48

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Feb 28, 2012
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New Boston, NH
Route (Monday, March 6, 2017):
  • Lincoln Woods Trail (2.9mi, 300ft)
  • Bondcliff Trail to Bondcliff (4265’) summit (6.2mi, 2900ft)
  • Bondcliff Trail to Mt. Bond (4698’) summit (1.2mi, 650ft)
  • Bondcliff Trail to West Bond spur path (0.5mi)
  • Spur path to West Bond summit (4540’) (0.5mi, 400ft)
  • Return the same way to Lincoln Woods (11.5mi)

Total: 22.1 miles, 4565' elevation gain, 8 hours moving time

Photo Library:
GPS Track:

I'd been working the NH 48 in winter for a few years, since I completed a first round in 3-season. Having the kind of commitments I have, I couldn't work it any faster. But I was pretty determined to finish them out this year.

The first attempt a week earlier just didn't work out, for a variety of good reasons. I had to scramble a bit to find the right and sure opportunity to get these peaks and finish out that list. I had only a couple weeks, and I knew the conditions were pretty prime to move fast over these mountains. Weekends weren't ideal with the home schedule, and as it turned out, they were also providing some of the coldest weather of the season.

But, a great opportunity did open up. Following a frigid cold front, Monday, March 6 provided bluebird skies with little wind and a relatively balmy lower 20s forecast for the higher summits. With the permission of the boss-man, I got the day off, and was set to conquer.

I'd tried to recruit others to join, since the mileage was quite high, and these are the Bonds after all... A young man in his mid-20s perished on Bondcliff just a couple months earlier, during a solo hike -- though conditions then weren't anywhere near as iffy as I would encounter. He had a mix of snow and rain to deal with; pretty dangerous stuff to battle.

Because of the high mileage, I wanted to do my best to get an early-enough start, but still be rested. I had a singing gig the night before, but decided to head right from there to Lincoln to finally give the Notch Hostel a try. I didn't get to spend any real quality time there, but the place is really comfortable and offers lots of great amenities, including full kitchen, dining area, and living room. The beds were pretty comfortable - not really so, but good. I would definitely be back when the next opportunity presents itself!

I didn't get to the hostel until about 12:30am, so I decided to sleep it a bit, getting about 6 hours. I knew the conditions would be quite good and I'd be alone, so I could move really fast. And I did - for this now-47-year old. As we encountered a week prior, trails were all "boilerplate" (very hard pack on and off trail) pretty much throughout under treeline, and mostly just wind-cleared rock above. I moved quickly with bare boots, and added snowshoes on the steeps merely for the heel lift, to save the Achilles.

I encountered 5-6 people along the ridge: one was on a quest to finish the single-season winter 48, and I heard of another who had just finished his winter 48 on West Bond (as I would shortly). I felt in good company.

The West Bond spur path wasn't very well marked, and previous paths led to an occasional dead end. I was able to find my way easy enough, with or without the Garmin GPS unit to guide my way. Reaching West Bond, I was so elated - no wind; bright, warm sun, and enough of a connection to report in with loved ones, friends, and co-workers. I'd started out about 8:40am and reached West Bond 5.5 hours later at about 1:10pm.

I savored the moments as much as I could on West Bond, hanging out with the summit to myself for about 35 minutes. I knew I had quite a distance to hike back -- about 11 miles -- so I need to get going if I wanted to try and get back before dark.

The way back was uneventful and quite quick. I felt energized, at least until I'd come down to river level on the Bondcliff Trail. The long, straight stretches along the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River were pretty boring, but you continue putting foot in front of foot, and you make it eventually. Podcasts were a welcome distraction along these parts!

I made it back to the car at 5:50pm, making the total for the day 9 hours 10 minutes, including stops. I look forward to a delicious piece of pizza (and the patch, yes...) at the AMC awards dinner in April.

I deeply appreciate all the help, support, and company I've received in working this list. My family in particular have been so supportive in letting me leave them for long days and some overnights. It's thrilling to have accomplished this! Now, on to the next list...
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