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Zealand Notch, Ethan Pond - page 4 of 6

We soon came to the Thoreau Falls Trail junction, which was about 2/10 of a mile above the head of Thoreau Falls. Although Holly was beginning to get tired, we all agreed that it would be a shame to miss the falls. 

At Thoreau Falls, the North Fork of the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River tumbles down a series of cascades to join Whitehall Brook at the base of Zealand Notch. From there, the now wider river flows south through the heart of the Pemigewasset Wilderness, where it turns west again near the Wilderness Trail.

We rested on the ledges at the head of the falls, filtering a couple of bottles of nice cold water, not because we needed it badly, but just because it was nice and cold. Staying well to the side of the flow, at least at this time of year when the water level was relatively low, you could scramble down the ledges here to the base of the falls, but we were content to watch them from above.

On our way back up to the Ethan Pond Trail, we met a White Mountain National Forest ranger out on patrol. I think he was planning on hiking all the way down to the Wilderness Trail, then looping back north along the Shoal Pond Trail. 

The last part of our hike for the day was a long slog eastward to Ethan Pond. The trail seemed to go on forever, an endless stretch of ups and downs, mostly ups. It had appeared much flatter on the map. Holly's pack was also giving her trouble because her hip belt had broken the day before.

We finally reached the spur trail to Ethan Pond Campsite. After a short downhill stretch through the sparse woods, we crossed over the rocky eastern shore on stepping stones, which didn't phase Holly, Muffin, or me. But Toi has a hard time balancing on stream crossings, and the wind was blowing menacingly off the pond, stirring up whitecaps and promises of more rain. She had to judge each step carefully. 

At this crossing, the view west across the pond is superb, and would have been even better on a clear day. Above and to the east towered Mt Willey, its summit hidden in the clouds.

Toi and Holly and the top of Thoreau Falls. Below, the river cascaded down to join Whitehall Brook at the base of Zealand Notch.

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Toi and Muffin by Thoreau Falls. Although we didn't really need it, we filtered a couple of bottles of nice cold water from the river here.

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Crossing the North Fork of the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River. The trail crosses over to the other side here, then turns east toward Ethan Pond.

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Lady Slippers. Back home in Massachusetts, we usually see these flowers a full month or more earlier.

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Ethan Pond. The spur trail to the campsite crosses the rocky eastern shore of the pond here, offering perhaps the best views of the pond.

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Map

  Zealand-Ethan page: 

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