Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Icy Hike to Mount Tom


After some warm weather and rain in the last couple of days I was anxious to see what the trail condtions would be like. Last week it was snow and ice on Mount Jackson. I was heading back to Crawford Notch for a hike to Mount Tom via the Avalon and A-Z Trails. Temps dropped overnight and it would be an icy climb to the summit.


 Icy start

Icy Trailhead

Icy trail

Ice bridge crossing


There was still some snow in my yard but that would be the only snow I would see until starting my hike. The rain had done a good job of washing away all the snow along the way to the trailhead. Even Bretton Woods had only man-made snow left when last week the entire mountain was covered with natural snow.

A-Z Trail junction

Another water crossing

Icy brook


Mount Tom Spur junction

The first thing I noticed when stepping out of my vehicle at the Crawford Depot was the cold and a biting breeze. I layered up and wasted no time hitting the trail. Getting into the woods provided some protection from the light wind that was blowing and every little bit helped.


Icy Mount Tom Spur Trail

The Gray Jays were waiting



The second thing I noticed was the ice. The first section of trail was one long sheet of ice. After one hundred yards of ice I stopped and put on the microspikes, they stayed on for the duration of today's hike.




At the first water crossing there were three hikers on the other side putting on their traction. They told me the ice bridge was stable and I crossed with no problem. There would be several water crossings today and they were all easily crossed.

Webster Cliffs


Gray Jay waiting for a snack


When I reached the Mount Tom Spur trail the temp was getting colder and I added another layer before heading for the summit. The ice continued and there were a few tricky spots before stopping at the first outlook. It was at this spot that the Gray Jays first descended upon me. I had to oblige and broke out the snacks. They were nice enough to pose for a couple of photos on my gloved hand.

On the summit of Mount Tom




I continued on up to the summit first veering to the left on a path that lead to a clearing with views to the east. The Gray Jays followed me. I took several photos and then went over to the true summit. There's a small cairn located here and walking a little further there is another clearing with some limited views toward the west. A few more photos and I started my descent.

Sun trying to break through

Gray Jay taking a snack from my hand

More water crossings


Back down at the A-Z Trail junction I stopped for a quick break and snack. Once again the Gray Jays followed me, I must have had some good snacks. The camera was put on the 10 second timer and I managed to get some picks of them eating from my hand. We finished our snacks and I continued my descent back to the trailhead.




Ice-rimmed pool

I took some extra time over the icy sections of the trail on the way down. Descents are normally when I take a good fall and I was determined that this would not happen today. Taking my time and watching my footing paid off and I arrived back at the Crawford Depot without falling.





Hiking at this time of year between the seasons creates unknowing and variable trail conditions. Of course conditions can change rapidly on a daily basis. But it all makes for a good and interesting day on the trail while giving the legs a good workout. Today was no exception and it was another enjoyable hike!

A view of Elephant Head at the end of my hike



video
Panoramic view from Mount Tom




Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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