The Pemi Loop is a circuit of hikes in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of New Hampshire’s White Mountains that I hadn’t planned or trained for hiking this autumn, but when a set of plans fell through, I quickly jumped at the opportunity to tag along. The last long hike I took was back in March and the last time I hiked in The White’s was January 2013 for my birthday; I was surely overdue! I packed my bags last minute Saturday afternoon and hit the road!
Our hike ended up being just over thirty-five miles (more on that later) and had over 9,000 feet of elevation gain! My feet definitely felt defeated by the end of day three; New Hampshire’s trails have far more rocks than the Adirondacks. We parked in the Lincoln Woods lot and for this I am grateful because for the first mile in and the last four out, you cover ground on an old railroad bed = flat! I was so happy to see dirt I almost cried. Almost.
But I suppose I should start at the beginning, right? Right! Sunday morning we hit the road by 4AM and wouldn’t you know it, I fell asleep in the backseat. Classic Jona move. The next thing I knew, I heard Paula pointing out mountains, so I quickly woke up and woofed down three leftover pumpkin muffins from earlier this week. Best move ever because within ten minutes, we were in the parking lot gearing up.
While in the bathroom, I met a woman named Hildi who wanted to walk into the woods with us. The sun had just started to come up and she promised her children that she wouldn’t walk in on her own. Who knows how long she waited for someone to pull into the lot. Anyway, she was heading in the hike the Bonds, which would be her 45, 46, and 47th peaks on her journey to becoming a 48er. In case you didn’t know, New Hampshire has 48 4,000 footers, similar to the 46 I completed in New York last October. Learn something new everyday.
That trail in was gorgeous as the sun came up- the leaves glowing yellow. I believe I used the word enticing- inviting us to walk deeper into the woods. It wasn’t before long that we separated from Hildi and took the Osseo Trail up Mount Flume. I should have taken better notes because I don’t remember much, which is also a good sign because if it were super difficult, I’d have horrible things to say. It took a couple of miles for my legs to warm-up and my body to adjust to carrying a heavy pack. There were ladders (my favorite, not!) and there were crystal clear views with nothing but blue skies.
There were a ton of people on the trail Sunday; many heading in the opposite direction of us. One woman said that there were over a thousand people on the ridge line the previous day! The only three people that passed us heading in the same direction were attempting all thirty miles in one day- good grief! We didn’t stay at the summit too long because we had four more peaks to reach before sun down and dinner at the Greenleaf Hut.
I must admit that the rest of the day was a complete blur. Once we hit the ridge line, it was like nothing I’ve hiked before and all I could do was soak up the views. I remember seeing Mount Lafayette finally come into view from Mount Lincoln and thinking, “okay, that’s not so bad.” Despite it being the tallest mountain for the day and our last, having views for the entire trip up made it worth it. We reached our last summit for the day at 2:50 PM and the sun was shining enough for me to get a tan! I did consider this trip as a vacation 🙂 We had to hike down Lafayette to reach the AMC Greenleaf hut and it was a rocky trip. We took our time and as we descended, a glider plane flew so very close by us! I’ve never seen one so close before- definitely a memorable moment on the trail.
This was my first trip staying in a hut. I was a little against it at first because of the cost ($100/night with a member discount) but then figured it would probably be best because I hadn’t done any overnights this past summer. This decision saved me a lot of weight not having to pack breakfasts, dinners, a sleeping bag, tent & air pad. We signed in, picked out our bunks- having the middle bunk gave me a view of the mountain- quickly washed up and sat down for dinner.
Pros of the huts:
- Running cold water- and by cold I mean freezing. Not exactly that hot bubble bath you anticipate after a long day of hiking but it works for helping you freshen up.
- Composting toilets- much better than an outhouse and oddly enough, very silent.
- Family style meals- I love, love, love eating as a community and wish I had more of it here in Troy.
- Three warm wool blankets- plenty to keep you warm at night, all I brought was a liner.
Cons of the huts:
- Sleeping can be tough- because it’s bunk style, you can very clearly hear those who snore. Luckily I’m a heavy sleeper and this wasn’t an issue this trip.
- The top bunks- those damn things were hard to get out of in the middle of the night.
The members of the Croo were super nice and made us all a delicious dinner. As the only vegan staying at the hut, they prepared a minestrone soup, fresh salad, some sort of Indian chickpea patties and steamed peas for me. Oh, and a homemade sourdough bread. I left the table with a full belly for sure and it wasn’t too far after dinner that I was snuggled into my bunk.
Part II coming soon!