Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Willey Range Traverse - 11/16/13

On November 16th, the weather was as perfect as could be for a mid-November day in the White Mountains.  I was invited to join a hike of Willey, Tom, and Field, a Willey Range Traverse.  Cynthia, another passionate hiker like myself, was finishing the Grid on this hike, and there were dozens of others along for the excursion, including many who've completed the goal of hiking all 48 4000-footers in each of the 12 months of the year and/or in a single winter season.  Talk about an amazing group to share a hike with.  I was happy to share such an easy, beautiful day in the mountains while meeting some really awesome people.

Amazingly, we got a few car loads to Ethan Pond Trail head after meeting at the AMC Highland Center. Shortly into the hike on the Ethan Pond Trail we came across some nice bear tracks, and then a notice in the snow making sure we saw them.

This was the first time up the Ethan Pond side for me, which got me the last section of the Willey Range Trail "I needed" for my redlining. One of the bonuses to that was getting to try to the ladders on Willey for the first time.  This trail section is also on the Terrifying 25 Trail list I'm working on.  Up we went!
Willey Ladders
Mt. Washington with Mt. Lowell in foreground
Mt. Willey summit (4th round, 4th month) 
View West from Willey before into the trees towards Field
For summits with limited views, the day overall, weather, and views we had made it seem better than any other time. While some of the group took more time on the summit of Willey, a few of us headed for Field. It was so nice to meet Cynthia who continued along leading the way to Field as we chatted about a few grid moments and hiking in general.  Shortly after that, we ran into Rachel and her beautiful pup Isis. Isis is getting close to her 48 finish! Follow their journey HERE. They also had planned to join the hike along the way, and meet up at the finish.  Continuing on, we ran into others who also were joining the fun along the way, and eventually (but still fast) we made it to the summit of Field.  There were about 20 people on the summit of Field having snacks.  The gray jays flew about cautiously and less closely because of the unexpected and odd commotion of so many people.  After a needed snack, the group cruised on down to the A-Z Trail and the junction with the Mt. Tom Spur, where there was another dozen people waiting, including family members to join for Cynthia's big finish to Mt. Tom.

After the Mt. Tom Spur parade, we arrived at the summit, where the celebration began.  Champagne and chocolates for everyone, and bunch of happy people on a beautiful day celebrating an incredible accomplishment.

In a few spaced out groups, we made our way back to the AMC Highland Center, were it was an absolute blast hanging out in the freezing cold, celebrating, and meeting many others, including the incredible Ed Hawkins! Pictured below are the most grid finishers (13 of 41) together at once. Some have completed it more than once, and a few have climbed all 576 starting after the age of 60.  Talk about some awesome stuff right there. Congratulations to Cynthia!

Hike Stats
Trails: Ethan Pond Trail, Willey Range Trail, Mt. Tom Spur, A-Z Trail
Distance: 8.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,980 ft.
Actual Book Time: 5:54
GPS Track: Garmin Adventures

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