While not the most exciting choice for my halfway point through the 4,ooo footer list, I did want to hike Mt. Willey. I had been up to the Tom/Field/Willey range three times before and did not bag this summit until this hike. Since I’ve already hiked up to the range from the Avalon and A to Z trails three times, I decided to to hike Willey from the other side using the Ethan Pond Trail and Willey Range trail route.
My hiking partner for the day was my son. I did warn him that the trail would be steep, and gave him plenty of chances to stay home, but he was determined to go, so we went. Even though he’s young, I really enjoy hiking with him, and introducing him to hiking. It is always fun to watch him as he sees a view open up after hiking for a long time and starting to get discouraged with his progress.
We started off on the Ethan Pond trail, which is also part of the AT. We crossed the railroad tracks and continued up the trail.
After the first .2 mile, the trail started to climb right away. After a while, the trail leveled off and was a really nice traverse until the junction of the Ethan Pond and Willey Range trails.
We turned onto the Willey Range trail and after that, the hiking got steeper and then we came to the ladders, actually, the stairs. We stuck with it and kept hiking upward.
Getting really close to the summit, the views started to open up. First across the Crawford Notch to the Webster Cliffs and then once past the summit, we were able to look into the Pemi Wildnerness.
The summit itself is just a cairn alongside the trail between the viewpoints. Once we did the obligatory summit photos, had lunch and enjoyed the views, it was time to go back to the car.
While this was the steeper route to Willey, we were prepared for it and didn’t think it was much steeper that anything else we’ve hiked recently. We had a great time and I am happy to have finally bagged Willey.