Lend-A-Hand & Trestle Trail | 7/19/22
Updated: Nov 6, 2022
Now that I’ve done nearly every trail in the Pemigewasset Wilderness, I decided to tie up a couple of loose ends while also doing my first four-thousand-footer in a month!
I started up the Zealand Trail just before 8 am- by myself, in the rain, and listening to Phoebe Bridgers. Not exactly the best environment to start a hike in, but I feel that the weather commanded it. The first 2.5 miles of the Zealand Trail were as uneventful as ever, but Zealand Falls was decipherable from almost half a mile away by the sheer level of noise it made as it roared down the headwall of the waterfall.
I finally started running into other people here, including a cheerful ground doing trail work (thank you!) and a handful of hikers leaving the Zealand Hut that were not too thrilled about how wet the trail was. I stopped at the Zealand Hut, realized I had been here in the rain on the very same day last year, and carried on to Lend-A-Hand.
Lend-A-Hand was gorgeous and I truly wish that I had done it on a sunnier day because I totally would’ve gotten some views off of the ledges! The footing was rough for most of the trail, but I wouldn't call it overgrown or dangerous in any way- there was two blowdowns but both look recent and were easy to get over. There was plenty of bog bridges and wet rocks to go over but the gentle grade I experienced for most of the trail made everything very pleasant. I did catch glimpses of South Hale amidst the clouds and just barely got to catch a view of Carrigain and Vose Spur. And of course, I made sure to get frightened at every sound I heard all day because I oddly associate rain with angry moose- none were seen of course.
Coming up towards the summit, the trail finally feels a little steep, and once I passed Fire Warden's on my left I knew I was close. I summited Hale around 10:45 and I’m not sure if I’ve gotten taller in the last 53 weeks or if the cairn got smaller, but it felt different today. I had originally planned to out and back, but due to my spook and general curiosity to see if my ankle could handle a steeper descent, I decided to go down Hale Brook. Minus the first 1/3 of the trail with all the switchbacks, the trail flew by and felt great for my still-braced ankle.
Thankfully, I had a complete mood switch from the morning as I bounded down the trail while blaring Ozzy Osbourne’s Live and Loud album and being far too cheery to all the people I met on the way down.
After a brief road walk where I saw a super cool orange salamander, I went over to the Trestle Trail which took about 30 minutes longer than it should’ve because of the HORRIBLE river crossing. I was almost convinced that I could do it without getting wet, but the water was just too high for this to be a possibility. I ended up getting in up to my hips and stepping carefully through the water as I could not see where my feet were beneath me. This is another trail I would say to avoid unless you’re tracing or super passionate about swimming mid-hike I guess.
The whole day came out to just under 10 miles and it was a good one!