The Bond's for Winter... Solo. An interesting undertaking to say the least. I woke up a little after midnight and was on the road by 1am. First car in Lincoln Woods a little after 3am. Lil' Nugget does not know what to think at this point. I get us both ready and we hit the trail... The long flat Lincoln Woods, Wilderness Boundary, and Bond Cliff trail. I think it helped that all I had was my headlamp for light. This narrows the focus and helps me not focus on where I need to be or what the trail is like coming up. I'm focused on the here and now plus, I have plenty of day light for 23 miles... The woods are not without their noises and on more than a few occasions, I make louder noises just in case. the Lincoln Woods Trail to the Wilderness Boundary is flat and easy to travel with just microspikes. Everything is well packed at this point. The water crossing is somewhat solid and able to be passed over an ice bridge but move quick as it creeks under feet. Continuing we head out to meet up with the Bond Cliff trail at about 6am. After a break, Lil' Nugget and I start climbing. The trails are in the best shape they have ever been in. Rocks and roots are covered just enough. Again, microspikes only. The snowshoes are still at home. I hiked up to Daylight.
We start to take the ridge to Mount Bond and the wind dies out in places. The sun is very warm and I can't help but keep scanning the horizons. Peaks everywhere and blue blue skies. It's a perfect day. The trail has been blown around a bit but it's easy to follow. We begin ascending Mount Bond and it's easy with all the rocks filled in. The snow is a little soft from the sun and I'm sure it will be softer when we return. It takes no time to summit Mount Bond. From here, you can see everything and it's not even the center of the Whites. But Mount Bond is truly my happy place. Today, I can see the surrounding peaks and then some. The most important peak is about a mile away. West Bond. My number 47.
Working our way from Bond to West Bond I remain conscious of every down trail as those will soon be energy sucking up trails for our return. There are pockets of cold in the shade and the trail is kind of mushy in the sun too. A real mix bag of conditions up here and still a perfect day. We begin to ascend West Bond and I'm fighting the emotions... Odd because it's #47 but I get it. This has been a long time coming. I can only imagine the basket case that will be #48. Lil' Nugget and I crest the summit of West Bond. It's small and well filled in with the snow. The snow is consolidated so, I settle and set up for pictures. The sun is so bright that I'm not even sure what I am shooting. I let Lil' Nugget tell me when it's time to go due to wind and cold. I could stay there until the sun goes down but that won't help us. We begin the painstaking descent back to the flats of the Wilderness Boundary and Lincoln Woods trail. But not before I take in every bit of my surroundings. This area is pure magic.
It's one of those days where it's hard to leave the area above tree line. Even though I know that I'm on borrowed energy, I want to stay up there forever. We scoot back down the steps and begin the long walk back. Thankfully, the descent seems to pass by but I do note that the snow is softer and balling in my microspikes. Water is a bit more open too since it's been warm today. What a strange winter... Best to get all the BIG peaks we can while the weather is good. Lil' Nugget and I waste no time to get back to the junction of the boundary and the Bond Cliff trail. Then we begin the long painful walk back to the car on the flat straight railroad beds... My feet and legs are so tired and the 23 miles is not over yet. The long flat trails just seem to drag on and I can't look up or it psyches me out. The sun is going down and I still have not run into a single soul today. How lucky was I to have the Bonds to myself?? Top visit for sure. I toss myself into auto pilot and just go. Lil' Nugget also wants to get back to the car as she is not stopping at all either. I do see two hikers in front of us but they are far ahead. Either they were on Flume or Owl's Head today. I count down the land marks as we walk.... Bridge to no where, Black Pond, Osseo trail, outlook, Easel, Bridge and we are back at the parking lot. Ready to get home. I talk briefly with the Owl's Head hikers who are impressed with my solo effort. I share my love of the Owl and wish them a safe ride home. I change and head for coffee... My usual reward at the end of a hike. 23 miles and a head full of memories and perspective. Life is good is all I can say. No matter what happens. I have a place that I can come to that makes it all seem better. I swear that today, I took a walk with my Grandfather when I was up there and I was glad for the company and the comfort.
So now there is just one Winter peak remaining.... Mt. Adams. For Kate.