“Let me transport you to those wild blue mountains,
Though not the loftiest that begirt the land,
They yet sublimely rise, and on their heights
Your souls may have a sweet foretaste of heaven,
And traverse wide the boundless” – Thomas Cole, painter
I love the quote above, because when I read it, I start imagining the sights Cole was envisioning when he penned those words. I recently had a “sweet foretaste of heaven” on a four-day backpacking trip into the Pemigewasset Wilderness. I chose to take this trip solo, and I learned a lot about my surroundings and myself over its course.
During my walk in the woods, I was able to further my goal of climbing the AMC 4,000-foot mountains, and I experienced the views the White Mountain guidebook describes as “unsurpassed”.
My adventure started by climbing Mt. Hale, and then heading down the trail to Zealand Falls Hut and on to Zealand Mountain. Along the way I was able to see various types of lichen, a spruce grouse, the tracks of a moose and enjoy some ripe mountain blueberries.
I spent my first night at Guyot (gee-oh) shelter after having the experience of getting hailed on while summiting a mountain. In the morning, while my gear dried, I took a short day hike to the Bondcliff trail, where I was able to enjoy the sun and the only 360-degree view in the White Mountains with no buildings or roads in sight. Breathtaking!
After my time at Guyot shelter, I traveled over to Garfield Ridge Shelter via the Twinway trail and Galehead Hut. There I got to meet the professionals- thru hikers on the Appalachian Trail who had come up all the way from Georgia- a distance of approximately 1,900 miles. I was able to hear their stories and share a delicious dinner of mashed potatoes and cheddar cheese. When I shared my Starbursts candies as dessert, they introduced me to the concept of “trail magic”- an unwritten code where every hiker looks out for other hikers, through big or small actions.
I got a taste of trail magic my last day, on the Garfield Ridge, when the “trail” became a rock ledge and some kindhearted hikers helped me down by carrying my pack for me.
All in all, my hike was successful. I can’t wait to plan my next backpacking adventure! Over four days, I covered 33 miles, climbed 13 mountains (9 of which were on the AMC 4,000 list) and met many amazing people.
Thanks to all the thru hikers who shared food, coffee, and conversation, and made it possible for me to “traverse wide the boundless”.