Today's chosen route was the result of much research and consideration. Our friends Vanessa and Jared were seeking to complete a 4000 footer that neither of them had that was also dog friendly. The weather is still too warm to ask much of Tango, their pup Tank would be leading the way and his love affair with hiking is coupled with arthritis, and their friend Steve would be accompanying with his trail newbie, Bones. While on the longer side, much of this route is not too demanding, was agreed to be the easiest of the options, was a nice way to do an often less-than-favorite summit for many peakbaggers, and left Zealand to hike via Zealand Trail in a not-yet-scheduled Bonds traverse.
The team was running late, and strangely, I was early. It gave me the opportunity to do something I'd been wanting to do for awhile. As one drives down Zealand Road, the river runs alongside. It has an allure to it that left me regretful each time I passed by without stopping. We finally did and it was magical; we could've stayed all morning but it was pretty darn cold and Ty had grown bored of the Chuck It ball and was squeaking closer and closer to the other side of the river....
Mileage: 8.7 miles
Duration: I'm terrible at this.... about 8.5 hours (leisurely pace)
Route: Hale Brook Trail - Lend a Hand - Twinway - Zealand Trail - Zealand Road
Hale Brook Trail
My recollections of Hale were less than gushing. In fact, I believe my prior feelings about the Hale Brook Trail were more akin to my new emotions towards Tecumseh. Last June, it was hot, I had a cold, and it seemed an interminable (yet moderate) drive upwards. Perhaps it was the cool air or all the wagging tails but I immediately had a good feeling about revisiting this peak. Conversation was light and we trekked at a relaxed pace over moderate trail conditions. The terrain began as hard packed dirt and and slowly mixed in roots and rocks, ever so subtly increasing the grade.
By the time we passed the first brook crossing after about thirty five minutes, the temps were warming but the trail remained moderate in both footing and grade until we crossed back over the same brook (with much weaker flow) another thirty five minutes later. At that point there were a few rocky, slightly steeper switchbacks that eased up after twenty minutes of ambling.
|First water crossing|
|Flashbacks of Tecumseh!|
Around that time, there was a nice view through the trees facing left. We stopped for a moment and Ty continued ahead. As we wrapped up our break, the Heathen Dingo came back to check on us, sans collar. Bummed out and grateful for all the help, we searched the brush to no avail and continued on. A few minutes later, we walked onto the open summit. The cairns had been rearranged in the two years since I'd last been up there.
It took almost two hours and twenty five minutes to reach the summit and we spent another hour enjoying what was possibly the most gorgeous day ever. Tango lent Ty his ID tags and Tank let his little mistress borrow his KCCO collar. KCCO stands for Keep Calm and Chive On. Ty interpreted it as Keep Calm and Chase On. She hardly spent any time with us at the summit while the boys opted to stretch out in the grass.
|Ooh! A dingo sighting!|
|If anyone knows the history of this |
out-of-place tank, please add a comment!
Zealand Falls, Hut, and Trail
The falls were beautiful but very populated with families. We ventured over to the hut where Jared snagged a few new patches and Ty accomplished a dream three years in the making: she entered the hut. I know, I know, bad human! Ty was a wiley woman today and she had to carry out one last big stunt.
|Looking up the falls|
|Looking down the falls|
|Sign/junction at the hut|
|The falls from a short herd path|
Jared jogged ahead to our Jeep to give anyone interested a lift back. Knowing that'd be a lot of dog for one car, TybTangs and I picked up our pace. I quickly questioned my decision. Ty wanted to catch up the Jared, making me wish I'd leashed Tango and handed him to Vanessa and Steve so he wouldn't have felt compelled to run with us. He surprised me with a very willing and coyote-like trot for most of the mile/twenty minutes down to the car.