Typical Tom/Field/Willey Report 9/22/12
The Presidential Range Above Webster Cliff
Mount Avalon 3442'/ Mount Field 4340?/ Mount Willey 4285? and Mount Tom 4051?
Avalon Trail/ Willey Range Trail/ A-Z Trail
10.1 Miles 2800? Elevation gain
Tom, (Wild Peaks) Kevin, Judy and Emma
Contrary to the previous day's forecast, we drove from the seacoast to the mountains in pea soup fog, gray skies and drizzle. Along the way we scanned through the guide for alternatives to the hike we had planned. If the weather was going to be crap we weren't going to hike to the summits. Some pockets of great color could be seen along the way and an alternate foliage photo safari was planned. We cut from Rte.16 along the Kanc to Bear Notch Road and headed for Rte.302. As we approached Crawford Notch it appeared the sky was going to break and we might get the day originally forecast. By the time we reached the trailhead at Crawford Depot the sun was bright and chasing the clouds out of the notch. I love this oft-repeated scenario!
Crossing Crawford Brook
We geared up and hit the trail. There were a few spots along the lower trails where the turning season was becoming apparent. Low on the Avalon Trail we passed another hiker and exchanged pleasantries as he dug in his bag. Later, as we stopped for a breather after the steep section up to Avalon he caught up to us and recited our names. Unlike other encounters where people have recognized Emma and surmised we were Kevin and Judy, (or more likely, just that Emma was Emma) he recalled that we had hiked a bit together on a winter hike to Isolation. Seeing as we were pretty bundled up for that trip I think the recognition again belongs to Emma!
So, out for a short hike to Avalon, we convinced Tom to join us for the rest of the hike across the Willey Range, a little more than he had originally planned! I'm pretty sure he was glad he did as it was a great day to be on any mountain! We headed from the great views on Avalon up to Mount Field. Near the summit we met folks coming down the trail who were "Just looking for a spot to eat." That did not bode well, and indeed, Mount Field was standing room only. Even the Gray Jays were too full to entice down for a treat. We managed to find some spots to snarf down a sandwich and continued on our way. Hmmm, not our usual Mount Field experience...
Bretton Woods from Mount Field Viewpoint
We were soon off to the much less crowded Mount Willey summit where we passed over the summit cairn to the viewpoint which we had to ourselves long enough for another sandwich. The views to the south and east were crystal clear and we took a good break admiring the views of Webster Cliff, the Presidentials and beyond. On the return trip to Mount Field it was apparent that things had remained a bit hazy in the west and some more weather was moving in. The plan was to camp after hiking, so I was hoping it wouldn't bring much rain. Back at the now abandoned Mount Field summit we met only the Gray Jays who were more than willing to allow us to trespass in exchange for some nuts and raisins.
View west across the Pemigewasset Wilderness to Loon Mountain from Willey Range Trail
Back on Field Emma had found a spot in the soft, cool moss to lie down and relax. It's just another sign that she's getting older and needing extra attention to her needs along the trail. We decided to continue along the Willey Range Trail to the Tom Spur on the A-Z Trail. The steep down climb from Avalon seemed a bit much for Emma compared to the gentle rolling trail between Field and Tom. I had hoped to go to Mount Tom and Tom our hiking partner agreed to go with me while Emma and Judy waited in the col. Of course, Emma would have no part of waiting and followed right after us. After our visit to the summit and as we began our descent it was obvious she was one tired pup, but she forged on like the trooper she is.
I Named Her "Peanuts"
Judy and I discussed whether we had over done it with her and came to the usual conclusion: Yeah, maybe a little bit. We hiked down the rest of the A-Z Trail to the junction with the Avalon Trail and from there the footing seems really excellent compared to the rocks and roots of most of the rest of the hike. Emma did fine along the way, stopping for cold drinks and to cool her paws in the stream crossings. We got back to Crawford Depot as the sun had already dipped behind the hills and the clouds were painted orange. I guess we started the hike later than originally planned! We said a quick goodbye to Tom as we still had to find a campsite and get set up before we were in complete darkness. Emma plopped in the back seat and snoozed.
View Back to Mount Field from Viewpoint on Mount Tom
We made the short trip to Zealand Road and took a spin around the Sugarloaf Campground. Although it was about half full we picked a spot on the first spin and I set up the tent while Judy went to the "Iron Ranger" to pay for our spot. Emma opted to wait with me. When Jude got back we finished setting up camp for the night and began to cook supper as the last light faded. Emma had little to eat as she had already eaten enough for a dog twice her size while out on the trail. After supper we turned in. Emma curled up on the end of Judy's sleeping bag and dozed right off. Overnight the rain came, but for the most part it was gentle with little wind and did not come close to the two inches we had overnight on our trip to Coleman State Park.
Next morning the rain had stopped and the sky was already clearing as we rolled out of our much smaller backpacking tent. Emma was up and chipper, seeming to have recovered most of her spunk after a good night's rest. After packing up camp we did a little exploring along Zealand Road in search of fall colors. The official report from me is that they are progressing nicely and should be looking exceptional in this area over the next few weekends! Emma snoozed most of the ride home, but that is nothing unusual. By Monday morning she was herself, and that is not unusual. It has been a few years now that she is pretty quiet the day after a hike, but seems fully recuperated a day later. This seems like great news to us considering her surgery earlier this year. We hope she can continue to join us for some time, and for now she seems to be able! To us this is everything...
Presidential Cloud Cap at Bretton Woods
Full set of pics HERE:
The Following User Says Thank You to KD Talbot For This Useful Post:
Anna LeBlanc (10-08-2012)
Great pictures and trip report. Saturday really turned into a great day. I hiked the southern end of the Presidential Range. Webster was socked in, it started to clear on Jackson, and on Pierce it was as clear as could be.
Wonderful to see you all having such a great time together!(Nice photos too Kevin )