Willey Range, 11.22.14

Wow, it has been over a month since a post!  I have been hiking, but life has been a bit busy for me to get the posts done and Ethan hasn’t been out in a while at all.  With a reasonable forecast and both of us free on Saturday, we headed up to Crawford Notch for a hike of the Willey Range, to Avalon, Field, Willey and Tom.   We needed various of the peaks for different reasons, and Ethan wanted to finish redlining the Avalon Trail.

Friday night, I asked Ethan what time we were getting up and he said he didn’t know.  So, I set an alarm for 6:00a.  His alarm went off at 5:00a.  Well, that answered the question!  Dressed and ready to go, we headed up to Crawford Notch, eyeing the temperature in the car as it steadily dropped.   By the time we got to the Crawford Depot, the temperature was 10 above.  I’m glad I decided to wear some heavier layers than the thinner ones I had originally chosen!

It was definitely a cold start, but all the more reason to move along and get warm.  The Avalon Trail starts nice and easy, and even the first wide crossing was easier than usual because it was mostly frozen over.  There was also a nice layer of snow on the trail which made it easier to negotiate some of the ice on the lower slabs, just after the first crossing.  We made good time and the second crossing was pretty easy, too.  It looked like some rocks had been placed to assist hikers since the last time I had hiked this trail.  The sun was just starting to peek out of the clouds, so as we hiked up, it was nice to watch the ridge line on our right light up as the sun got higher into the sky.

In less than an hour, we were at the Avalon and A-Z trail junction.  Today’s task was to go up the Avalon Trail, and with the mixed ice/snow conditions and steepness of the upcoming section, we donned the microspikes to help with the hike upward.  Actually the hike up was much easier than my last trips in April and May where the ice was smooth and bare, offering no grip whatsoever.  Upon our arrival at the Avalon summit spur, we decided to go up to the summit as Ethan had never been up there.  It didn’t seem like anyone had been up since the last snowfall, so we go to make fresh tracks up to the summit.  The sun was shining and the views of the Presidentials were very good!  After a few photos, we headed on up to Field.

Junction of Avalon and A-Z Trails with a nice layer of snow.

Junction of Avalon and A-Z Trails with a nice layer of snow.

View to Wester Cliffs from the summit of Avalon.

View to Wester Cliffs from the summit of Avalon.

Ethan on the summit of Avalon with a view out to the Presidentials.

Ethan on the summit of Avalon with a view out to the Presidentials.

This was still new trail for Ethan, but this section was not as steep, it just alternates between easy sections and ascending sections.  At the junction with the Willey Range Trail, we turned left and within a few minutes, we heard the wind the trees.  We hadn’t heard the wind all day, but knew that it was forecast.  I stopped to put on my shell before the top, as the summit area always seems to be windy.  A quick peek at the views and we were on our way to Willey.  We got some nice views of Mt. Carrigan and Chocura in the distance on the initial descent and then it was business as usual, hiking along the ridge line.  There was more snow up here and was a pretty walk over to Willey.  Sooner than Ethan expected, we were at the Pemi outlook and then at the summit.  We continued over to the other outlook and met another hiker, Jay, who had hiked up the Willey Range Trail from Ethan Pond.  After a quick chat, we headed back over to Field and happen to see some hikers we knew along the way, Ken (who hiked with me for my winter 48 finish) and his lovely wife, Karen.  We had a quick chat to catch up since we hadn’t seen each other since last winter and then moved on.  A little further on, we met Scott, who looked familiar to me and I guessed it right, I recognized him from his hiking blog, Two Brothers Hikes .  We had a nice conversation and found out that he works in IT like Ethan does.  It was fun to see some familiar faces on the trails!

The summit of Willey, photo-bombed by Ethan.

The summit of Willey, photo-bombed by Ethan.

Webster Cliffs again, this time from the summit of Willey.

Webster Cliffs again, this time from the summit of Willey.

View of Mt. Carrigain from the Willey Range Trail between Field and Willey.

View of Mt. Carrigain from the Willey Range Trail between Field and Willey.

Back at Field, it was an easy, quick walk over to the A-Z Trail and then just a quick 80 yards up to the Mt. Tom Spur.  With just one more peak to bag, we made quick work of hiking over to Tom, tapping the summit and enjoying the views before hiking out to car.  There seemed to be a little more snow higher up on the A-Z Trail than on the Willey Range, and I enjoyed that bit of winter wonderland.  It won’t be long before we have snow like that everywhere!

Ethan making his way along the snowy Willey Range Trail toward the A-Z Trail and the Mt. Tom Spur.

Ethan making his way along the snowy Willey Range Trail toward the A-Z Trail and the Mt. Tom Spur.

We arrived at the car mid-afternoon, and had a great hike.  It was fun to just to get out with Ethan again, enjoy the snow and to have the pleasure of chatting with Ken and Karen and Scott along the trail!

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