Date: Monday-Wednesday, August 20-23, 2001
Trails: Wilderness, Shoal Pond, Ethan Pond, Thoreau Falls
Conditions: Excellent visibility
Distance: 34 miles
Difficulty: Long but with easy grades
Conditions: Clear trails/Wet weather
Special Required Equipment: Rain gear, gaiters, tent, hiking stick for balance on the many stream crossings
Trip Report: I wanted to get out and do some backpacking this week but didn’t want a lot of uphill. I checked out the trusty old DeLorme Trail Map & Guide to the WMNF for fairly level trails I hadn’t red lined yet. I saw that I hadn’t hiked around Shoal Pond/Thoreau Falls so I decided that would be my destination. I set out on Monday 8/20/01 under cloudy skies along the East Side Trail (opposite side of the East Branch Pemigewasset from the Lincoln Woods/Wilderness trail). I finally joined up with the Wilderness Trail and made it to Stillwater Junction before the rains came. Continuing along on the Shoal Pond and Ethan Pond Trails I finally reached Ethan Pond Campsite at 6 PM. The shelter was pretty full already so I opted for a tent platform and set up. After a quick supper I hit the sleeping bag at 7:30 and tossed and turned (as usual) until about 6 AM, at which time I realized the rain had stopped. I had breakfast and broke camp.
The weather on day 2 was much improved so I headed off on the Ethan Pond Trail (AT) through Zealand Notch my way to Zealand Falls Hut. The notch is spectacular as the trail comes into the open talus area of Whitewall Mountain with great views up and down the notch. After a quick lunch stop at the hut I retraced my steps on the Ethan Pond Trail back to Thoreau Falls Trail. This trail soon comes to the top of Thoreau Falls which were very nice even with a meager water flow.
I lingered here for a while, cooling my feet in the rushing water and then set off in search of my second night’s camp. I found a nice spot about one mile down the trail. It was only 3:30 but I decided to set up and just enjoy the down time. It was nice to not have to rush. A quick (15 minute) rain shower passed by but I was already all set up and had finished eating so this was no problem. I turned in at 8 PM and nodded off. I woke at one point and peeked out of the tent to see a beautiful, clear, star filled night sky. I was sure surprised to finally wake at 5:30 AM in a downpour. I disappointedly broke camp in the rain and got back on the trail for the 10 mile hike out to the Lincoln Woods Trailhead where my wife was to pick me up at 2 PM.
I was surprised at the roughness of the Thoreau Falls Trail. It was full of roots, rocks, wet areas, and even a few steep ups and downs. I was sure glad to get to the suspension bridge on the Wilderness Trail for the long, boring trek out to the parking lot which I reached at 12:30 PM, tired, sore, and well satisfied.
Except for the rain, I really enjoyed this trip. The only wildlife I saw were a 3′ snake, a mink, and of course the normal chipmunks, squirrels, and common variety birds. I saw moose sign everywhere but never saw one. Maybe next time!
Submitted by Hike’n Mike
Sat, 25 Aug 2001