Hiked Shoal Pond Peak on 6/28/2017 with Bill and Diane Schor and Larry Babcock. Weather was forecast to be clear in the morning with a chance of showers in the afternoon. We had one brief shower in the morning and another in the afternoon. This was a long day with 5 miles of trail before we started the bushwhack then a 1.5 mile bushwhack with a few twists and turns. We had been warned about some bad Hobblebush and even worse spruce and they weren’t wrong. We started out hiking up the Zealand trail which except for the reroute portion is an old railroad bed which is pretty easy hiking.
At the end of the Zealand trail we started on the Ethan Pond trail which is another old railroad bed and pretty easy hiking.
You can see from the picture that Shoal Pond Peak has a pretty flat summit which sometimes makes it hard to find the actual high point. We followed Ethan Pond trail to the junction with Thoreau Falls trail and continued on Ethan Pond trail until we crossed over North Fork on a bridge and started the bushwhack.
We only had to gain about 500 feet in elevation over 1.5 miles so there weren’t any steep parts to have to deal with but a few sections of thick Hobblebush. Hobblebush grows about 8 feet tall and has thin stems and grows in thick patches. Now that it has leaves you can’t see your feet and you get all tangled up in the stems, makes for slow going.
We also had some very nice stretches of open woods with no obstacles. We reached a point that could have been the summit, it was the right elevation, but GPS indicated we had another .1 mile to go. It was awful, dense spruce with blowdowns covered with slippery moss. We didn’t get to the summit until after 1PM, which is pretty late to eat our PBJs. We all got pretty scratched up, luckily there weren’t any bugs and a cool breeze was blowing.
We decided we didn’t want to go back the same way we came up, so we bushwhacked down to the Thoreau Falls trail and followed that back to Ethan Pond trail and back to the car. It was kind of steep going down but no thick spruce and no Hobblebush. It was better going but added a mile or so onto the total trip.
There were lots of pink and white lady slippers along the trail, must be a good year for them.
We reached Thoreau Falls but didn’t linger as it looked like a thunderstorm was coming. Fortunately all we got was a brief shower. We met some other hikers who had been on Zealand who got soaked.
After Thoreau Falls it was a 5 mile walk back to the car. It was along tiring day but we made it back. Only 37 peaks left to finish the New Hampshire 200 Highest list.