Dickens and I had climbed Zeacliff (3740') NH in 2009, but we hadn't gone all the way to Zealand Mtn (4250'). This time, my friend Gary Kling and I decided to take advantage of the good weather on 7/20/12 to climb all the way to Zealand, an 11.4 mile round trip.
We started at 9 AM and proceeded over the rough area of boulder hopping. After this the trail is much better and goes along a river and a series of lakes, with a view of Zeacliff off in the distance. By 10:40 AM we arrived at the Zealand Hut, where there were a number of other hikers. Here, there is a great view down Zealand Notch; there is also a nearby waterfall.
Starting at the hut, we were proceeding on the Appalachian Trail, and we met a number of hikers. While at the hut, we met a large group of young women who were doing the same journey as us. They had a cute 14 year old Tibetan terrier with them named Tucker. In addition, we met a young thru hiker who trail name was Teton. There was also a group of older men who wore the same T shirt proclaiming that they were doing all the 4000 foot high peaks in NH, and were on their way to doing a large number of them today.
We arrived at the ledges on Zeacliff at 12:14 PM, just ahead of Tucker and the ladies. Here we had gorgeous views all around, from Mounts Jefferson and Washington, to the nearby cliffs of Wallface, to huge Mt Carrigain to the south, to equally huge Bond Mtn, to the vast Pemiggewasset wilderness below us. We had lunch and Tucker visited us to see if he could mooch some snacks. He was a very cute, well behaved dog, actually, and a remarkable hiker for his age.
We left Zeacliff at 12:55 and proceeded to a mountain on Zealand Ridge which was unnamed on our maps. Gary and I decided to call this Zeppelin Mtn. It shows up as a separate mtn on my 1988 ATC map, with a height of 4018 feet, and it definitely looks like an independent mountain, being 300 feet up from Zeacliff,and a mile away from Zealand. And it's significantly downhill in every direction.
In checking guidebooks after returning from this hike, I learned that Smith and Dickerman ("The 4000-Footers of the White Mountains") refer to this mountain as "Zeacliff Pond Peak" and give its height as 4060 feet. There is indeed a very limited view from this peak of Zeacliff Pond down 100 feet below. Also,from Zeppelin there were some very good views not available elsewhere, such as Chocorua in the distance, and some big cliffs on a spur off Hale. With a little clearing this would be an even better lookout.
After Zeppelin, we went over two large unnamed bumps on the ridge. By 2:08 PM we arrived at the viewless summit of Zealand Mtn where we met a number of other hikers, some of whom were going on to the Bonds to the south. We left this summit at 2:28 and headed home. Along the way we met a thru hiker who said that his dog Jake has the trail name of Knucklehead. We also met some hikers with a beagle named Greta.
We were back at the hut at 5:12 where there was a huge crowd of hikers enjoying a smorgasbord. I noticed that there was also a container of margueritas, and at least one bottle of wine. Gary and I didn't have any of this food which apparently was for the groups of hikers staying overnight at the hut.
On our way back out, we met a young couple heading uphill to the hut. They were thru hikers going from North to South, unlike most thru hikers. They had started in June. The young lady told us her trail name was Peanut. I hope they made it uphill in time to enjoy the smorgasbord.
When we were going past one of the lakes on the way out, we saw a kingfisher fly over the water and onto a tree. Other wildlife seen on this hike includes a garter snake, toad tadpoles, and two red squirrels. The thru hikers almost count as wildlife because they have been out in the woods so long. We were back out at 7:15 PM and proceeded to Littleton where we had supper together at a fashionable restaurant. All in all, a very delightful adventure.