June 24, 2013: Zealand

With the threat of severe storms looming large in the form of big fluffy cumulus clouds, I embarked on another hike.  The trail to the summit of Mount Zealand starts fairly easy and I was making great progress on mostly flat land while passing some nice lakes bridges.  However, a few exhausted hikers coming down the trail promised tougher times ahead.



I soon came to a large pond with which was resonating with sounds of wet and wild swimmers coming from the falls and hut above.  I circled around and made my ascent into this noisy chaos and even passed a few jolly swimmers along the way who warned me of steep times ahead.  I checked out the falls and ventured into the steep trek before the hut.



The hut was overrun with exhausted hikers and towels so I decided to skip the pleasantries and plowed right around it to continue my hike up towards the summit.  I did take time to admire the nice swimming spots for a later date and almost threw myself into one before better judgement took hold.


I continued on and things really started to become labored as the trail got mean very quick.  I was fighting my way through jelly legs and dehydration as curious hikers strolled by on their way down from somewhere up above.  I finally fought my way to the ridge trail and came upon a fork in the trail with a loop that my white Mountain hiking guide(ding ding) promised led to a view that was one of the greatest in the whites!


I approached the view and tripped on a few rocks as I came bursting onto the scene with an absurd entrance that left the other inhabitants of the view eyeballing me in surprise.  I decided to soak up the view with my own eyeballs and also my camera  lens before moving on to the other half of the loop and ultimately the main trail again.


I ventured on over pretty even ground for a while before coming to a little side trail that led a short distance down a slope to a nice pond.  I made the mistake of checking it out and not so quickly realized that a short distance down leads to feeling like a great distance up when you have been hiking all day.


I barely made it back to the main trail with my sanity and approached the home stretch to the summit.  After a few short scrambles up some steepness, I once again reached some even ground that felt like it would never end but did indeed finally bring me to the summit just as thunder finally made its appearance.



After some customary pictures, I flashed off the summit as flashed of lightning started going off like fireworks.  I made one quick but unnerving stop at the Zealand Cliff viewing area to see how the storm closing in on me as I plunged into the tree line and made a bee line for the bottom.  I did make one other stop at the hut to gather my wits before finally reaching the safety of the car.  15 down, 33 to go!!!!