Mt. Hale loop (August 22, 2009)

This was the day for the yearly "social hike" of our Mt. washington Place condo association, and we had planned an easy walk and picnic for folks up to Zealand Falls. Fourteen signed up, but with heavy rain in the forecast that morning everyone bailed out except for the hard-core hiker cast of Peter Gordon, Peter Wyatt, and me. It's a really nice hike to the falls, going by Zealand Pond (left) where beavers outcompete each other to build the best dam in the state. Above the falls is a beautiful little cascade and pool (right), which I used for a swim and shower a few years ago on a hot day.
Peter G. had made 14 sandwiches for lunch so there were plenty to go around for the three of us (left). After lunch, Peter W. and I decided to make an afternoon of it by climbing Mt. Hale with the Lend-a-Hand trail, and coming down by the Hale Brook trail to Zealand Road. Doing a 4000-footer with no views seemed like a perfect outing for a soggy day. As it turns out it hardly rained on us, and the Lend-a-Hand trail took us through beautiful and diverse forests (right) on the way to Mt. Hale.
While climbing Mt. Hale there are a couple of unmarked places where you can get off the trail to a slide and get some good views looking back toward the Zealand ridge (left). The top of Mt. Hale used to have a fire tower and no trees, and the 360o view must have been beautiful then. I have a 1985 White Mountains trail guide that rhapsodizes on the views from Mt. Hale. Now the tower has been dismantled, the trees have grown back, and the only limited views are from the top of a large cairn (right, looking toward the Twins). There are some who think trees need to be unconditionally protected, but we have no shortage of trees in the White Mountains and rather a shortage of views. A good wind blowdown or fire could make Mt. Hale a much more interesting mountain to climb!

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