Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Avalon Trail to Mount Field

Fog was thick this morning as I departed for the trailhead. There were areas of fog and clearing all the way to Crawford Notch. Today's hike would take me to Mount Field (4,340 ft.) via the Avalon Trail and a little bit (90 yards) of the Willey Range Trail. Two weeks ago I climbed Mount Willey from the other direction. Mount Field will complete my 4,000 footers for this area having hiked Mount Tom last year.

 Blue sky and wisp of fog

 Saco Lake reflection

Fog in Crawford Notch

After a week of cool and cloudy weather the weather forecast for today was sunny skies and temps in the 70's - perfect! I expected a full parking lot at Crawford Station but there were plenty of spots avaiable. Fog was still rising off of Saco Lake and the sun was just coming over the mountain. There was already plenty of blue sky.

 Ledges to Mount Avalon

 View of the Presidentials from Mount Avalon

As I was parking a large group of hikers were beginning their hike. A few minutes later a couple passed me that I would see again on Mount Field and they would have an interesting story to tell regarding their hike to Mount Willey. It took me a few more minutes than usual to get going due to some ankle pain that I was treating. So an ace wrap with motrin and I was ready to go. This hike was actually going to give my ankle a test.

 Mount Avalon

The ankle felt good as I hit the trail. It's a very gradual climb up to the A-Z trail junction. The Avalon Trail bears left and begins a steeper climb. It was not much further while I was looking down, not paying attention and reached a dead end. I had missed the bend in the trail and had to back track to the main trail. It was clear that I was not the only one that had missed this, it was a beaten down path to nowhere.

I reached the side path to the Mt. Avalon outlook. This is a short, steep 100 yards with some ledge climbing but well worth the effort. There were three other hikers resting here when I arrived. After a short break for some photos I continued my ascent to Mount Field.

 Mount Field summit

 Mount Washington Hotel far below

 View north from the Willey Range Trail

 View west from the Willey Range Trail

Once again it was a gradual climb before the trail turned steep. Nearing the Willey Range Trail it returns to an easier grade. At the trail junction it is ninety more yards to the summit of Mount Field. There were two other hikers taking a break and enjoying the limited views. Trees had been cut in order to create a viewing area. It was better than nothing.

 Sitting in Crawford Brook

 Standing over gorge in Crawford Brook

 Pearl Cascade

It was here on the summit that I saw the couple that had passed by me in the parking lot coming up the trail from Mount Willey. Here's where it gets interesting. As they approached they asked me if this was Mount Willey. I was surprised by this question because they had to have already passed by this summit on their way over to Willey. I told them this was Mount Field and they looked confused. They told me that down below in the col there was a serious blowdown area and the trail disappeared. In their search for the trail they got twisted around and found a trail they thought was going toward Willey but was the trail they were just on from Field. They decided to hike back down Avalon, drive down to the Willey House and take the Kedron Flume Trail to Mount Willey.

 Beecher Cascade

Last of the Asters

I spent a few moments taking photos and eating a snack then started my descent. There were many hikers on their way up the trail as I made my way down. On the way back I took the loop trail that passes by the Pearl and Beecher Cascades. It's a great side path!

 Saco Lake

 Train arriving at Crawford Station

When I arrived back at the parking area there were people everywhere. I could also hear the whistle of the train that was approaching bringing more people. A few more photos and I was on my way home.

 Crawford Notch

This was a spectacular day of weather and I was relieved that my ankle held up for this hike. I was also able to add another 4,000 footer to my list of completions. I decided to drive down through Crawford Notch and enjoy the views on such a perfect day of weather!

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors! 

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