Two foliage hikes (October 6 and 8, 2012)

4+5 hours
My mother and my aunt Francoise were visiting for the week-end to see the legendary fall colors of northern New England. The weather was not so great but we did two short foliage hikes, the Frankenstein Cliffs-Arethusa Loop and Zeacliff. Roger Gagne and Peter Wyatt joined Francoise and I for the Frankenstein Cliffs hike. From the parking lot the cliffs were radiant in foliage (left). As we started on our climb we hopped on the railway trestle for a great view of Crawford Notch (right).
Frankenstein Cliffs is a mellow climb, eventually reaching a platform near the top with a classic view of the Saco Valley (left). That's the best view from the hike so we hung out for a while and got our group picture taken (right). We continued on the ridge to a peak (not much view) and then looped down to Arethusa Falls (below left). I was surprised by how much water the Falls had - probably because the trees had stopped pumping.
Two days letter Francoise and I climbed Zeacliff, starting from the end of Zealand Rd. My mom started with us (right) with the intention of doing a piece of the flat Zealand trail at her own pace. She ended up making it to the beginning of Zealand Pond, where a stream crossing requiring some boulder-hopping discouraged her from going further.
The foliage around Zealand Pond was mostly gone but the tree reflections on the water and the view of Zeacliff to the south were very nice (left). We climbed to Zealand Hut (right) where we stopped and had coffee. Francoise devoured the chocolate chip cookies made by the hut crew and commented that the hut had much the same feel as the chalets of the Club Alpin Francais in the Alps. She was floored though when I told her how much it costs to stay at these huts. I've ranted before on how the Appalachian Money Club makes it financially prohibitive for families to stay in the huts - totally shameful. Apparently the largest cost for the huts is bringing in the food and making the meals. Well, make the meals optional then. I would rather bring my own food and opt out of the 6 pm dinnertime constraint anyway.
We continued our climb to Zeacliff, running into some wet snow above 3,000 feet (left) and finally arriving at the spectacular platform with the classic view to the south (right). This is one of the best views of the White Mountains and my son Alex and I had previously done justice to it a few weeks before on our hike to the Bonds. Notice the huge dead birch forest below - I had previously commented on it on my Zeacliff Loop hike last year.
We hung out for a while appreciating the view. To the left were the Presidentials cloaked in snow, but they were also socked in cloud so there was no good photo opportunity. Finally, a lady came by to take our picture (below left). We returned the way we came, paused again at the hut for a great view toward Carrigain Notch (right), and back to Zealand Rd. where we found my mom waiting patiently in the car.

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