A Summer Visit to Tom and Field

I had a free afternoon to hike on Wednesday, and since I didn’t have a full day I wanted a quick loop hike.  Looking at my spreadsheet, I realized that I had never been to Field or Tom in the summer and hadn’t been up to Field in 5 years.  I visited Tom in Oct. 2006 and Jan. 2010, and Field in Nov. 2006.  I also realized I had never gone up the Avalon trail or visited Avalon, either.  The decision then was easy:  a loop hike up to Field via Avalon Trail, stopping at Avalon along the way, then over to Tom and back down to Crawford Notch.

I got to Crawford Notch around 12:30p, and not surprisingly for a bright summer day, it was busy.  I parked across the street from the train depot by Saco Lake and headed across the street to the start of the Avalon Trail.  As I hiked, some of the trail and scenery looked familiar, but some things didn’t.  That’s the difference between hiking the same trail in three different seasons and with a large span of time between visits.  I certainly remembered the sections of trail that ran along the brook and the second stream crossing, although the first stream crossing was not quite how I remembered it.  The grade is mostly easy up to the junction of the Avalon and A-Z Trails, where I took a left and continued toward Avalon on new-to-me trail, the remainder of the Avalon Trail.  Well, that half mile up to Avalon is where you gain quite a bit of elevation!  Since it was already early afternoon most people were descending, so I politely stepped aside to give them space to descend safely on the rocks and to give myself a breather.   The trail leveled out and I was at the spur trail to Avalon and a few minutes later on the summit of Avalon, viewing what I could see of Crawford Notch through the haze.  It was a hot and hazy day – I could barely see Eisenhower and not see Washington at all.   I could see the train at the depot – I had heard the whistle as I hiked up the trail –  and I could see my car parked far down below.

View toward Crawford Notch and part of Webster Cliffs From Mt. Avalon.

View down to the Highland Center at the north end of Crawford Notch.

The train at the depot; I could also spot my car parked by Saco Lake.

After a quick break, I was on my way for the next destination:  Field.  Field is a little less than a mile away, plus another gain of elevation.  This section of the trail alternated steeper sections with more level sections, which made it a bit easier.  Moving along, I came to the junction of Avalon and Willey Range trails and took a left for the final little bit to the summit of Field.  I do remember this last little bit up to the summit, and then the cairn is right in front of you.  There are only a few viewpoints at the summit, and through the haze, I could just make out the Mt. Washington hotel in the valley.

The summit of Field with the Willey Range Trail on the left heading off toward the summit of Willey.

A little side trail at the summit of Field; the Mt. Washington Hotel is barely visible through the haze.

After cooling off a bit and getting a snack, it was time to head over to Tom.  The first part was a nice easy section down toward the intersection of the Willey Range and A-Z Trails.  This was a nice as it was all shaded and a gentle down hill.  Once back on A-Z, I took the quick half mile spur trail over to the summit of Tom and the northern outlook.  Things were a little less hazy, but I know there are great views here.  When I was here on a crisp October day, the views to the Southern Presidentials and Washington were crisp and clear.  I didn’t see any Grey Jays, either, who on that same October trip, almost took a sandwich out of my hiking partner’s hand and even nosed into her pack.

From the outlook on Mt. Tom, Carrigain and Carrigain Notch beckon in the distance.

The haze has lifted a bit making the view into Crawford Notch a bit better.

Washington is barely visible today; this was better than the view from Avalon.

The true summit of Tom; follow the spur trail to the left (the right leads to a viewing area with views into Crawford Notch), on a good day at the true summit you'll look into the Pemi Wilderness.

With the summit visited, it was time for a quick exit hike.   The A-Z trail was just about how I remembered it – that mile between the Avalon junction and the Tom Spur is steep, but I was going down and that wasn’t a bad thing!  Quickly enough, I was crossing the railroad tracks and back at the car by 4:30p.

At the end of the hike, almost at the end of the trail near the railroad tracks.

It was a hot hike – I even ran out of water on the way down – but I enjoyed it.  It was interesting to hike a trail I had never been on, and to see a familiar trail in a third season.  The weather still promises to be hot tomorrow, but we’re hoping to beat the heat a bit and hike up Carrigain.

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