The last time we were up on the Bonds the weather wasn't as wonderful as one could hope, and we didn't really get any views from Bondcliff. And, Brenda had never been up the Bondcliff trail, so we thought an overnight coming in from Lincoln Woods was in order. We went up the night before and stayed at the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge, so we could get an early start. We hit the trailhead at Lincoln Woods and as we were putting on our boots when a car pulled up with our friend Jeff. He, Tom, and Erik with Keisha the wonderdog, were doing Owls Head that day. We wished them well, crossed the bridge, and headed out along the flat Wilderness Trail. We stopped at the Black Pond trail junction as they caught up with us and headed into Black Pond to take the bushwack to the Lincoln Brook trail. We continued to the old campsite, now closed, over the bridge into the Wilderness Area, passing some rock people set up along the river. We still hadn't seen many people, but we did run into a USFS backcountry ranger who suggested a good, legal campsite off of the Bondcliff trail. It was pretty easy to find, and we set up camp and took a bit of rest.
We started setting up the tent, then noticed a nasty deadfall hanging over the only flat spot. Using Brenda's wonderful Swiss Army knife we cut it away, justifying its excessive weight. After setting up the tent and hanging the food, we headed up the Bondcliff trail. This is a very well layed out trail, pretty steady and gentle climb through the length of the trail. It has four stream crossings, only the bottom two of which had any water running. There are only a few views on the trail, unless you count frogs, but the weather was wonderful and the temperature made for very easy hiking. Upward and higher, until we reached the small cliff just below treeline, then we were there. A bunch of folks were hanging out on the summit, some with full packs and others just dayhiking. We lay down on the rocks and absorbed sunlight for a while.
As is always the case on sunny summits, I spent some time taking pictures, including my standard panoramic shots. It was a glorious day, the first time I'd been on top of the Bonds with perfect weather. There was a couple, Dave and Mary, on the rocks directly above the cliffs and we talked with them a bit, they were headed to Guyot to spend the night. I peered out over the cliff, not a place you want to stumble. After a rest we continued up to Bond, with Dave and Mary, through the scrub and climbing over the rougher terrain until reaching the summit. This was our turnaround point, as we really didn't want to continue on to West Bond. Everyone else who was still up top was headed to Guyot, so on our way back to camp we really didn't see much of anyone, just flowers. When we reached Bondcliff again it was around 5:00, a very nice time to start the descent, as the day was cooling off.
The trip down went very quickly, a tribute to the good footing on the trailbed. At the campsite we pumped water for dinner, 3 liters each, and headed up to make dinner. We kept hearing some noises near our tent, and finally saw two folks headed back from pumping water to their campsite, further in the woods. Although slightly angled, we slept well that night. The next morning, after a cold breakfast (stove issues) we packed up and headed out. We walked through the closed off camping areas, past the old logging trestle, and turned left on the Wilderness trail to cross the Pemi on the suspension bridge. We were going to take the East Branch road back to the Franconia Falls campground, now on the east side of the river. The first part is the Cedar Brook trail, another old railroad bed, then we switched to the road. We stopped for lunch alongside the river at a wondeful spot where the granite sloped down to the water. It was hot and we took advantage of the water to cool off. After a brief stop at the campground (watch out for shrooms), we crossed the Pemi on the stepping stones and headed to Franconia Falls itself.
Franconia Falls is a very popular destination, for obvious reasons. There are vast expanses of open rock, with water running through allowing for swimming, suning, and general relaxation. But the real draw is the natural waterslide, formed by years and years of flowing water. We really hadn't intended to swim, but the water was irresistable and we both decided to give it a shot. It's a bit of a tight fit for people of my size, but a well timed twist of the hips makes for a excellent journey (video). Be sure to point your toes. We dryed off and packed up for the seemingly endless journey out the Wilderness trail, even if it is only 2.7 miles. An excellent trip.
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