I led an Appalachian Mountain Club hike on Sunday to two White Mountain 4000 footers named Mount Tom (4051′) and Mount Field (4340′) in Crawford Notch. These peaks are fairly easy to climb and the trails leading to them are usually well packed out because they’re so close to the AMC’s Highland Center. On our return trip. we climbed Mt Avalon (3442′) which has fantastic views of Mt Washington and the Presidentials, Franconia Ridge, and Crawford Notch. It was beautiful day, though a bit frosty to start, with a really nice group.
We met at the Highland Center Lot because the Crawford depot hadn’t been plowed out and got started onto the trail by 8:20 am. The trails were broken and all of the stream crossings at the beginning of the A-Z trail were bridged. The snow was a bit soft but still bare-bootable, but we put on microspikes about a mile from the trailhead for better traction on the climb up to Tom.
I was carrying a little extra weight in my pack in order to train up for a backpacking trip next weekend to Whiteface and Passaconaway. This being my first hike since New Year’s, I was definitely feeling the effects of a week of overindulgence. Got to get back into shape, in a hurry!
My co-leader Bryan and I were joined by five other hikers, none from the Boston Chapter of the AMC which was a nice change of pace. Not that I mind hiking with my friends from Boston, but it’s always nice to meet some new hikers from other areas.
We made very good time up to Mt Tom and then lingered at the many viewpoints on the mountain. I haven’t been on Mt Tom in winter for a few years and it seems like there are a few more viewpoints than I remember. On the west side, there’s an excellent viewpoint of Mt Bond, Guyot, Zealand, Hale, and the Twins and on the east side, we had clear views of Washington, the Presidentials and the Dartmouth/Deception Range.
We also had an excellent view of Mt Field, the next peak on our route. It looked immense in the distance, but was relatively easy to climb up on a gradually sloping forested track. We had a snack on the summit and two friends of mine, John and June, popped out of the woods and joined us at the summit. They maintain the upper part of the Jewell Trail on Mount Washington, above the shorter section of the Jewell Spur that I’ve been maintaining for the past few years. It was really nice to catch up with them and swap stories about exploring the Pemi, off the beaten path.
After Field, we headed down to Mt Avalon which had the best views of the day. The trail down is quite steep though, and a certain amount of butt sliding was “necessary.” From Avalon, we had great views of Webster Cliff and Crawford Notch, Field, Tom, and the Presidentials.
From Avalon, we looped back to the A-Z trail with more butt-sliding down the very steep trail and hiked back to the trailhead in short order. Finally – some nice winter weather in the Whites after a tough December.
Total mileage: 7.3 miles, Time: 6:00
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