One Day Pemi Loop, 10 Summits +

"Go as far as you can, and then take another step."

Pano from Mount Garfield
This had been in the works for a couple weeks. A friend had asked if I would be interested in doing a Pemi Loop on one of my days off and he would switch his for it. I said sure.

Packing
A one day Pemi Loop has been on my bucket list for at least the last couple years. Let me give you an idea of what this hike consists of.

Start:5:00am
Lincoln Woods Trail 1.4 miles
Osseo Trail 4.1 miles To Mount Flume
From Mt. Flume to Mt. Liberty

Franconia Ridge Trail 1.2 miles
From Liberty- 2.2 Miles to Little Haystack
From Little Haystack- .7 Miles to Lincoln
From Lincoln- .9 Miles to Lafayette
From Lafayette- Garfield Ridge 3.5 Miles to Mount Garfield
From Garfield -Garfield Ridge 2.9 Miles to Galehead Hut
1mile round trip Galehead Spur
(17.9 miles)
Twinway .8 Miles up to South Twin (1100 vertical gain in this .8)
Twinway 2.0 Miles to Guyot Junction
Bondcliff Trail 1 mile
1 mile round trip to W. Bond Spur
Bondcliff Trail .5 miles to Mount Bond
Bondcliff Trail 1.2 Miles to Bondcliff

Bondcliff Trail 4.4 Miles
Bondcliff Trail 2.1 Miles to Wilderness Boundary
Lincoln Woods Trail 1.2 Miles
Lincoln Woods Trail 1.4 Miles Back to the car.

(33.5 miles)(Vertical Gain 10,850ft)
End: 8:30pm
Average Pace was 2.2mph


Start 5:00am
Okay. So now you have a run down on what the hell I was doing. A lot of mileage in just one day. This hike is usually attempted by backpackers. It is usually done in anywhere from 2-4 days for most. But there are a few who trail run this in a day, in as little as 7 hours. I am just a hiker out to see how far I can go. How far I can push my limits. Step out of my comfort zone a little bit.

Hikes like this one only happen maybe once a year for me. As they are incredibly exhausting, painful, and sometimes painstakingly long. The longest day hike I have hiked before this one was 26 miles. This was also in Yellowstone NP, and around a lake. With minimal elevation gain. The closest in elevation gain I have done to a hike like this, is a Presidential Traverse. I have done the Traverse a couple times now, and the elevation gain for this one is roughly 9,000ft and about 22 miles long.

I set my alarm for 3:00am on Thursday morning. Knowing I had to be up super early, I went to bed around 9:30pm the night before. I hoped that I wouldn't be too excited and keep myself awake all night. Luckily, I was tired enough I slept for a good chunk of time before waking up around 1:30am. Fell back asleep and awoke when my alarm finally went off. Groggy as anything I brushed my teeth and put my hair in pig tail braids (my usual trail-do). I was in my car by 3:45am and on the road.

Osseo Trail
Arriving at Lincoln Woods Parking area I was the only car arriving to start my day. I awaited my friend Rob. He showed up around 4:40am and we both got our stuff together and hit the trail. This was the first time we had ever hiked together. I am sure we both had no idea what we were risking by meeting and hiking 34 miles together for the first time. I told him to just be prepared and bring a headlamp. I also told him how fast I average as a hiker, and shortly into the hike I asked him if he had any allergies I should know about, and let him know that I am allergic to Penicillin.

The first 1.4 miles on Lincoln Woods Trail went by in just a few minutes, we were speeding to Osseo. Once we got to the junction of Osseo we flew up the easier half of this trail. We started to ascend, what felt to be very quickly up and out of the trees. Before I knew it we were on the steep section with the ladders. This wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. However, I am pretty sure it is the ORIGINAL stair master. I think I would rather ladder steps than the other choice we have in the White Mountains and that is rock steps. When you are only 5'2" those rock steps are never meant for short legged people. I always find myself using my entire upper body as well as my legs to get up them.

Viewpoint from Osseo Trail
Mount Flume 7:00am
Once at the junction we had only .1 of a mile until the summit of Flume. Flume would be our first summit of the day. Standing on top, my body was telling me I needed energy. We made it to the summit by 7:00am. Only 2 hours on trail and 5.5 miles under our boots. We had a quick snack and continued onward towards Liberty. I had only been through this section once before, 2 years prior. I just remember it being dreadful, but then again I had just hiked 3mph up the Flume Slide. A slick wet rock slab that gain a lot of elevation in very little time.

 
 
Franconia Ridge Trail
We arrived at Liberty, took a quick few photos, drank some water and kept moving. I was hoping we could get to Lafayette by 10:00am. We hit the junction of Liberty Springs Trail and continued up and across Franconia
Mount Liberty (windy)

Headed across Franconia Ridge
 
Little Haystack
9:30am and we are standing on top of the 6th highest peak in NH. The winds were blowing pretty good. My guess would be somewhere around 30mph sustained. We took again, a quick photo and then continued onward. We would continue onto Garfield Ridge for the next 3.5 miles until we hit our next summit, Garfield. This was the section I was not looking forward too. Most of my friends had said it's brutal. With lots of PUD's (pointless ups and downs). It actually was not that bad. By 11:35am we had finally made it to Garfield. Garfield is by far one of my favorite summits in the White's. It has the remnants of a foundation of what used to be a fire tower up there. The wind was howling, the views absolutely stunning. From this point we were just about half way through with our hike. The best part was sitting up there and looking to the right and seeing the entire ridge you just hiked and then looking to the left and seeing where you were going to end up. If you were looking at a clock, think of it as we started at 6:00 and we were now at 12:00. So smack dab in the middle.

Mount Lafayette 9:30am
2.9 miles to Galehead Hut. We quickly stopped at the spring to grab some water. I got to use my Sawyer Mini and water bag, so I was pretty excited about that. We went down, down and more down, then flat for quite some time and then up again. It wasn't until we crossed the trail junction of Gale River Trail and had just .6 miles left until the hut. This .6 was murderous. I could really start to feel my legs getting sore and tired, my body telling me I needed more energy and fuel to keep going. This was the first half of a mile that would feel never ending. With a few more to go towards the end.

Garfield
 
Garfield Pond
 
Appalachian Trail Bog Bridges
In my  head I kept saying "I really hope Rob yells when he can see the hut". Eventually, I looked up and he was stopped and waiting, then I looked to my right and saw the propane tanks and I knew how close I was. I pushed myself up the last and final steps and BAM there it stood. Galehead hut. I immediately sat on the bench out side and took my boots off. I went to the restroom, soaked my headband in ice cold water and refilled my 2L bladder. Back outside, I grabbed and apple and told Rob I was going to ditch my pack for the half a mile up to Galehead. He agreed to do the same and we headed up to the summit.

(above) the steep trail (below) view from trail
 
I don't typically and actually probably never really have left my pack anywhere, but I wasn't somewhere in the woods where I knew I was the only one out there in case something happened. I knew I was close enough as to where if something did happen there was always the hut to take shelter in until help arrived. I felt comfortable in my decision, and I am glad I did it. I am sure some will read this and think it was a stupid choice to make, but I am well trained in the outdoor first aid world to know when it is a good or a bad idea to make decisions like that.

Galehead Mountain
When we got to the hut we were the only 2 there. When we got back down from Galehead  there was the father and son we had ran into up on Garfield who were doing their on long traverse all the way to route 302. Bob and James, I believe is what their names were if my memory serves me correctly. They were very nice, and Bob was originally from NH but had moved to Maryland. Also, back at the hut there were 3 more people there. I did not however catch their names but they were friends of a guy who pretty much scared the shitake mushrooms out of my on trail as he ran passed us. They were all trail running the loop. Here I am thinking I was crazy?
Views from Galehead Look out (Galehead Hut to the left)

South Twin
We were all getting ready to head in the same direction. Except one problem. We were all dreading the next part of this journey we were all on. It is the most dreadful section of the entire hike. It was the start of Twinway. I remember hiking down this way when I hiked the Twins and Galehead and I remember thinking how bad I felt for the ones coming up it. This section was .8 miles to the summit of South Twin, with an elevation gain of 1100ft. As a hiker, that's straight the **** up. Pardon my French here.

I put my boots back on, and just mentally was dreading this next part. With just about 18 miles under my feet already, I was finally starting to feel tired. I told Rob, I may be a bit slow in this section, don't feel like you need to stop and wait, I will see you at the top. Him and I were the first two to leave the hut with the others following shortly behind us. Just breathe, I kept telling myself, you can do this, you've come to far to give up now, these were all things going through my head. I pushed and pushed, then before I knew it James (the son) came flying up behind me, then shortly following was Bob (his dad). I let them pass me. Then again I was thinking in my  head, "please let Rob just yell when he gets to the top". Before I knew it, I had the 3 trail runners behind me, I told myself "no way am I letting every person get up there before me when I started first". So I pushed hard, looked up and saw a cairn. There is was. I pushed even harder and moved just a little bit faster making it to the summit before the 3 trail runners. The biggest sigh of relief was let out of my mouth.

Twinway
3:00pm South Twin had been greeted by our presence. This was a quick stop as well. Took some photos and enjoyed the views for a moment. Then it was off to finally start heading in the direction of our cars. That was the official beginning to the end of this trail. We still had all of the Bonds, but we knew it wouldn't be that bad. Our original plan was to maybe see if we could tag North Twin on this trek, but I told Rob it wasn't in my cards today, he agreed and so we kept moving.

Guyot Junction
This section of Twinway was a breeze. A beautiful trek below the trees then eventually popping out again. Once out of the trees heading up towards Guyot was a nice easy jaunt. It didn't require much effort thankfully. We continued onward until we eventually came to the Bondcliff Trail and took that upwards until we hit West Bond Spur. In my head, I really was not feeling it. I very much at this point wanted to quit. I had hit my rock. I was tired, cranky, sore, hungry, and thirsty. This is where I officially think I hit my wall, and emotionally was drained.

Twinway
The think about doing such big hikes such as these, is emotionally, mentally, and physically you need to be strong. When you're out there you are giving your all every second of it, you know you have a goal, you know you can't just give up halfway through, and it's tough. We started to head towards West Bond and all I could do is play back in my mind what it was like the first time I did the Bonds. Hoping it wasn't going to be steep or hard. This half a mile was miserable. It felt like it took hours, and felt way longer than a half mile to the summit. I sucked up the pain and emotion and I kept moving. Eventually given my all to get to the summit. We made it by 4:30pm. On the way back though, a sudden feeling of exhaustion and nausea kicked in. With every step I took I thought I was going to vomit. Every sip of water I took, again felt like I was going to vomit. I thought I needed to eat, so I ate some chewies and then, the feeling of nausea. It was never ending. My body was slowly dying out.

Another half a mile to the summit of Bond. By 5:10pm we were finally at Bond. Looking ahead I could see our final destination. Well, final summit. We quickly grabbed some water and I ate some more crackers and we started down. At this point we were ready to wave at Bondcliff as we walked over it and get back to the car.
West Bond

Mount Bond
 
Bondcliff
By 5:45pm we were at Bondcliff. FINALLY! This is where our final descent would take place. It seemed like we were so close, but in reality we still had 9.1 miles left until we were back at the car. The next 4.4 miles coming off Bondcliff literally felt like forever. We were moving quickly and steadily down hill. At some points running. Eventually meeting up with the next portion of the trail that would be 2.1 miles until we hit the Wilderness Boundary. Here is where we made the call for the final trek out. Still breaking it down into 2 section because it was still another 2.6 miles from here to the car.
 
Bondcliff from Bond
 
Bondcliff from W. Bond

There was lots of silence, a few bad words, lots of mumbling, and plenty of sighs to go round on that last 9 miles out. The pain had subsided for the moment as the adrenaline had kicked in to get me the hell out of there. The only pain that was bothering me was the amount of rocks and dirt I had built up under my feet in my boots, which with every step was rubbing the bottoms of my feel raw. I wanted to reach the car more than I wanted to keep the skin under my feet, so I refused to stop and empty them. Learning that it was a mistake not too.

Raw feet after 34 miles
 
 In 34 plus miles you learn a lot about yourself. There is a million things while you are out in the wilderness walking that flow through your mind. For me it's everything. I learn so much about myself and how far I can actually push until I just can't take it anymore. There are moments where I ask myself why the heck am I doing this? Moments where I feel at peace with my life, and most of all I learn patience being out there. One of the biggest things that always crosses my mind is that, I know that if I absolutely had to, I could walk for miles in my own shoes. I know that if my car broke down, I could walk until I found help. I have defeated another bucket list challenge and I feel great.

As painful as it was in the end, it was a very enjoyable day. On the other hand, I am not so sure I would want to do that again. I say it now, but I know it's a possibility someone may be able to talk me into it again. Next time I will just make sure to slow down and smell the roses, and empty the rocks out of my boots in the end.

Life is all about beating and getting through all of the challenges it throws at you. I have my own challenges life has thrown at me as I'm sure everyone else does. I am working through them and making myself proud of all of the hoops and obstacles I have gotten through. I will continue to push myself and challenge myself, mostly because I know it helps me grow as a person.

Hike Safe & Keep on Trekking

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