Ascent to Zeacliff-Zealand Falls Hut on 2011-01-28

Climber: Scott Wieman

Others in Party:Mike Geary
Ben Kuelthau
Miles Horton
Pat Megley
Noah Wentzel
Amy Levine
Steph Durell
Date:Friday, January 28, 2011
Ascent Type:No Summit Goal
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Carpool
Point Reached:Zeacliff - Zealand Falls Hut
    Location:USA-New Hampshire
    Elevation:2700 ft / 822 m

Ascent Trip Report

I woke up at 5:15 in the morning in Williamstown, dressed in my warm gear, and headed over to the equipment room to meet up with the other seven people on the trip I was taking in to Zealand Falls Hut. The eight of us loaded in to the van and headed north with Ben behind the wheel. About four hours and one stop for gas later, we reached the parking lot for the Zealand Trail. Ben turned the van right, and it almost immediately became stuck in the snow covering the lot. After revving it up in reverse failed to free the van, the rest of us bailed out, planted our feet in the snow, and started pushing as Ben put the pedal to the floor. We managed to unstick the van with help from a guy about to ski in to the hut, and then piled back into the vehicle to park .3 miles down the road at the plowed winter trails parking lot. Once there, we strapped our snowshoes to our packs, ate lunch, and headed out down the road.

The first mile and a half or so after the Zealand Trail parking lot was a recently-paved road, so we left the snowshoes on our packs and trekked along the road. After the plowed part, we hit a drift that marked the start of where we needed snowshoes, so we stopped to put them on and then started hiking in on snowshoes. The road ended about two miles later, and we embarked on the actual Zealand Trail, winding our way through trees, moving up and down hummocks and gullies. We crossed paths with the hut caretaker, Joanne, at the very start of the trail, and then she passed us about an hour later on her cross-country skis. A few minutes after that, we found her stuck in a steep-sided ditch, her skis wedged in the ground, so Amy helped pull her out. We followed Joanne to the west shore of Zealand Pond, where she tipped us off to hike straight across the frozen expanse of the pond rather than circumvent it. The hike across the pond was fun, and it gave us our first good views of Whitewall Mountain to the west and Zealand Falls hut itself to the east. The hike up from the lake to the hut was a very steep uphill, which my snowshoes slipped on several times. We topped out at the hut, took off our snowshoes, and settled in for an evening of relaxation, card games, and backgammon. Pictures here:
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1194 ft / 363 m
    Elevation Loss:255 ft / 77 m
    Distance:6.9 mi / 11.1 km
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Open Country, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Snowshoes, Hut Camp
    Weather:Snowing, Cool, Calm, Partly Cloudy
Intermittent light snow, around two to three feet on the ground.
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:1194 ft / 363 m
    Distance:6.5 mi / 10.5 km
    Route:Zealand Road to Zealand Trail
    Trailhead:Winter Trails Parking Lot  1506 ft / 459 m
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:255 ft / 77 m
    Distance:0.4 mi / 0.6 km
    Route:Appalachian Trail
    Trailhead:Zealand Pond  2445 ft / 745 m
Ascent Part of Trip: Zealand Falls Hut Snowshoeing (3 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Zeacliff-Zealand Falls Hut2011-01-28
2(Attempt) Mount Tom2011-01-29 a
3Zeacliff-Zealand Falls Hut2011-01-29 b
4Zeacliff2011-01-30 a
5Zealand Mountain2011-01-30 b
6Zeacliff2011-01-30 c

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