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View Full Version : Mt Willey, Field and Avalon- 10/9/10



Addicted
10-11-2010, 01:42 PM
It was time to check off another couple of 4000 footers from the list, so off we went to do Field and Willey. I heard lots of reports that coming up from Willey House was pretty steep and going down was no picnic, so we decided to do an out and back from the Highland Center parking lot. We had done Tom last spring, so had an idea what the trail was like up to the junction of A-Z. It was really cold and windy in the parking lot, so I was looking forward to getting into the woods. We were bundled up and made it a ways before we started to shed the layers. I knew we'd work up a sweat heading up to Avalon, as that looked to be the steepest part of the trail. Indeed it was, but since it was only about 1/2 mile it wasn't too brutal. We dropped packs at the base of Avalon and scrambled up the rocks to a great, yet cloudy, view! Most of the presi's were still in the clouds, and Field above us had a layer of frost or rime around the summit area. It was downright chilly in the wind, so we took some pics and headed back to the trees for a snack and some more layers. The gray jays were very aggressive this time around, we assumed because they knew winter was coming and wanted to stock up. They were taking food that we were eating right out of our hands (without being offered to them!) and would help themselves to any ungaurded bag of snack mix! We got cold pretty quick and headed off to Field. It was a pretty good .9 miles, no complaints. The summit of Field was cold and the trees had frost and rime ice on them, but everything else was ok. We didn't stay here long, then headed over to Willey.
I was under the impression that this would be a nice ridge walk, with a few steep down pitches on the way over. Boy was I wrong. The footing on the part of the hike was horrible. It offered up anything you could imagine for the white mountains- rocks, mud, roots, gravely rocks, small jagged rocks, rotted 'log' bridges over the mud... It was a mess. You just couldn't decide where to put one foot after the other. We also mistakenly had it in our heads that it was a mile, not 1.5. No wonder it looked so far off when you could see it through the trees! It didn't lose our sense of humor and made it over to Willey. There was a large group that got there at the same time, but they hi-fived and hopped off the viewless summit. I had heard about the outlook just on the other side of the summit and found it was only 50 feet downtrail so we went to check it out. What an amazing view of Webster Cliffs!! By now we could see as far as Eisenhower, but the other presi's just didn't want to come out and play. The look into Crawford Notch was excellent too. Just a tad past peak foliage though, so the colors weren't super vibrant. It was pretty nice on this little rock outcropping, so we had lunch there. More of the aggressive jays showed up and we had to throw trail mix around to keep them busy so we could eat what was in our hands! It didn't take long to cool down and the hands get cold quick, even with gloves on. We headed back out over to Field. The trip back from Willey to Field was much better than the trip over there. Once we hit Field it was all downhill from there, although it had gotten MUCH muddier throughout the day, and the rocks and roots had wet leaves on them from the water trickling down the trail, so it slowed us up some. We hit the summit of Avalon again, since we wanted to see if the views cleared up any, and there was actually a little sun and we could see as far as Monroe. It really was nice. Time to get off this mountain though, so off we went and we were happy to see the junction of the A-Z trail again. It was a nice walk out of the woods at that point, and we were burning daylight. Long, cold day, but that makes #22 and 23. One more to go and I'm half way there!

ow2010
10-11-2010, 06:40 PM
Great report! Thanks for sharing. I did a loop of Avalon-Field-Tom in August starting and ending at the Highland Center. The trail is pretty rough between Avalon and Field! Of course we had rough weather as well...cloudy and rainy. Probably nothing compared with the cold you ran into. I would have liked to added Willey as well but it would have been too much for my hiking partners.
Would love to see any pictures you have to share.

Trailsend
10-11-2010, 08:45 PM
Addicted, good job great report!!!!!

Thanks

KD Talbot
10-11-2010, 09:29 PM
Nice trip report! Love the mountains this time of year! Nice job bagging all 3!

KDT

Snow Miser
10-12-2010, 07:43 AM
Very nice TR! This is a great time of year to be out there. Thanks for sharing.

MelNino
10-12-2010, 08:27 AM
Thank you for the TR! We are going to try to tag Wiley today... We got Field last year, and yes, the trail from Field to Avalon is tricky (as a side note, I love Avalon)

Happy hiking!

Jimmy Legs and Little d
10-12-2010, 11:50 AM
The last time we hiked Avalon was March of 09, when it took us 5 hours of trail breaking to reach the summit. Some snow drifts were 4 feet deep. We will remember that hike for a long time. The view (from the summit) is one of our favorites in any season. We will have to revisit Avalon.

Do you have any photos?

Mike

Addicted
10-12-2010, 03:51 PM
We hiked Tom in the spring and the plan was to do Field also, but the trail wasn't broken out and we hadn't been up there before and thought it was in our best interest to not try it! I do have some pics, i'll try to post some soon. I always do my TR's from work, and my pics are at home : (

mtruman
10-12-2010, 10:53 PM
Nice TR. It was definitely a great weekend to be in the Whites! I agree with the comments from the others on Avalon. It's definitely our favorite "smaller" peak and it has a view that few 4000 footers can beat. Somehow T/F/W haven't made it onto our list yet but we'll hopefully find an equally nice autumn (or perhaps winter) day when we finally bag them. In my book, any day hiking in Crawford Notch is a good day! Thanks for bringing us along on your trek.

MelNino
10-13-2010, 08:08 AM
Willey was fun! But was the summit just that cairn? I hope we didn't find a false summit... I don't think I have the legs to try it again this week :)

Addicted
10-13-2010, 01:06 PM
Yeah, the summit of Willey is just a cairn. Coming from the Field side you can tell it's the height of land there, but it helped to have a group hi-fiving on the summit! East Osceola was the same way...If not for other people pointing it out, we could have easily walked right past it.

KSearl
10-13-2010, 01:13 PM
Great TR. I definitely want to get Tom, Field, Willey and Avalon next year. I keep hearing such great things about Avalon. It sounds like it was really nice day, with the exception of the trek over to Willey. Based on the 1/2 mile steep section up to Avalon, how would you think going down it would be? I've always wanted to do a Tom, Field, Avalon loop in that order, which would end up making you go down that 0.5 mile trail.

Thanks,
Karl

ow2010
10-13-2010, 02:00 PM
Great TR. I definitely want to get Tom, Field, Willey and Avalon next year. I keep hearing such great things about Avalon. It sounds like it was really nice day, with the exception of the trek over to Willey. Based on the 1/2 mile steep section up to Avalon, how would you think going down it would be? I've always wanted to do a Tom, Field, Avalon loop in that order, which would end up making you go down that 0.5 mile trail.

Thanks,
Karl

I did Avalon-Field-Tom, which is just the reverse of what you want to do. I don't think it would be much harder either way. There's only one approach to Tom, and coming down from Avalon wouldn't be a problem either. The longest stretch is between Field and Avalon, but it's all pretty reasonable.

Addicted
10-13-2010, 05:05 PM
That stretch of trail isn't really anymore difficult than your normal steep rocky pitches. It's really not that bad, in comparison to some other things I've seen. I took a spill on a downhill section of the Ammo on wet rock that I was very confident with, so it makes me more leery now than I used to be. I fell with my whole body weight on my elbow and somehow lived to tell about it! Down steep sections tends to be our toughest hiking issue, but for the average Joe I'm sure it's not difficult. My other 60 something year old hiking partner has no issues on these sections and usually charges on ahead and just waits for us on a rock downtrail : )