Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Winter 48-in-1: Tom, Field, & Willey - 1/6/13

After hiking 12 miles over Cannon and the Kinsmans on Saturday, I was wondering how this 10 mile loop of Tom, Field, & Willey would treat me for peaks 10-12 of this single winter season quest. Knowing it would be well broken out, I was looking forward to that relief. I had stayed at my place near Winnisquam Lake, and got a really good nights sleep. I arrived at the depot to find the lot unsuitable for my vehicle to attempt accessing the driveway. I decided to park at the end of the AMC lot. It was snowing lightly and it was pretty cold in Crawford Notch, but I urged myself to get geared up and going at about 7:50am, same start time as the day before. I waited a few minutes at Crawford's to see if the train was going to come and take me over these mountains, but it didn't.
Crawford's Depot in winter
Avalon Trail
That was alright though, because once I got moving on the Avalon Trail, which was a broken-out highway, I was hiking at the pace of a speeding train anyways. I bare-booted it all of the way to the Mt. Tom Spur. It was a great workout. Here, I put on microspikes and left them on the rest of the way. It provided all of the traction (and give) I needed to move swiftly across the ridge.

It was a nice walk up to the summit from the junction. I didn't recall the spur not being so steep, but anyways, I had made it here, to the summit of Mt. Tom, in one hour from the depot. I walked right over the summit and over to the view point. There was no one else up here yet. The views were very limited, but there was sunlight trying very hard to poke through the cloud cover. The first time I was on Tom was a bright sunny January day, frigid cold, and we were standing on the tops of trees - it was spectacular. It wasn't like that this time, but I did have a very unique experience with a lone gray jay, which nearly landed on the tree I was putting my camera on (like literally almost landed on my camera). He was the only other thing up there and he surely wasn't camera shy, as he propped himself perfectly right into my photos and video. Because he came so close, I was able to capture video of him from just inches away.
Arriving at the summit of Mt. Tom where I was welcomed by a lone Gray-jay
Mt. Tom summit for the 3rd time; my buddy perched up above

With a blink of an eye, I was half-way on my way to Mt. Field on the Willey Range Trail. This section of trail is a very pleasant one (like most). The trees were loaded with snow, and the couple feet of untouched snow everywhere beyond the packed out trail was just a beautiful sight. I made it to the summit of Mt. Field, which was vacant as I snapped some photos. A couple of minutes later as I took in the view from the outlook, a solo hiker named Elizabeth reached the summit, and we chatted for a few minutes. She shared a nice story about an attempt of Maine's North Brother in waist deep snow with a group. North Brother is the only New England 4000 footer I need to climb, and I'm hoping that somewhere in the mix of this winter I will have an opportunity to give it a go. It seems fitting for me that I didn't get it done this fall, and its left me to do, as the hardest 4000-foot peak to bag in New England in winter. After the chat and some water, I scooted off towards Willey.
View from Mt. Field summit outlook
Willey Range Trail between Field & Willey
The nice gradual descent into the col and very manageable trail makes, again for quick movement between the peaks of the Willey Range. I arrived at the rather plain summit of Mt. Willey, where I poked around beneath the snow for the summit cairn. A quick peak over at the outlook just past the summit provided no view, so I went back and snapped a few photos at the true summit. As I was doing that, I met again with Elizabeth for a couple of minutes before I was on my way.
Mt. Willey summit
With all three peaks now in the bag, the only thing left for me to do was high-tail it out of there to complete a successful weekend of hiking, having climbed six winter 4000 footers. After reaching the summit of Field again, I branched off onto the top part of the Avalon Trail for the descent. As I was barreling down the trail, I came upon two hikers putting on some snow pants for some butt-sliding action. After a quick hello, and being already in my suitable snow pants, I ran, jumped, and slid down the luge-like trail that they were just gearing up for! They must have thought I was nuts! Along this section, on the descent, there are about 3-4 solid sections of butt-slidable trail. If I had my sled, I probably could have gotten myself going for about a half-mile.
Mt. Avalon seen from the flat section on Avalon Trail
Slopes of Mt. Tom visible as I butt-slid my way down
Back to Crawford's Depot and the AMC Highland Center
All in all, this was another great hike, and it was done in nice time, considering I hiked 12 miles the day before. Last winter, I did the hike in 4:45. I am now 1/4 of the way through this quest, and it has been a great challenge so far. It snowed for 12 hours straight on my first hike, which included navigating the unbroken and obliterated Kate Sleeper Trail; I broke trail completely for my first two hikes; it has snowed, at least partially, on each hike thus far, and lastly, I've done it all solo, so far. Despite these challenges already faced, I am fully aware that this is nothing compared to what is to come...

Hike Stats:
Trails: Avalon Trail, A-Z Trail, Mt. Tom Spur, Willey Range Trail
Distance: 10 mi.
Elevation Gain: 3,400 ft.
Actual Book Time: 5:30


  1. Great report and photos Dan! Good luck on your 48-in-1 Winter season it seems like you're well on your way.

  2. Congrats! You've had a great couple days bagging six 4K's! Good luck on the rest of the quest.

    1. Hi Summerset, although the views weren't the best, they were indeed a couple of good days of peaks. Thanks!!