Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Mild Winter Day on Mount Tom

After battling a couple of illnesses the past two weeks I was ready to get out on the trail today, well almost ready. I still had a resolving upper respiratory infection (cold) and was finishing up the last of my antibiotic from a previous infection. My initial plan was to hike the Osceolas but changed it to a single summit hike to Mount Tom (4,051'). I didn't want any health setbacks by overdoing it so one 4,000 footer would be enough for today. Weather was forecast to be mild with temps in the 40's and overcast skies with occasional periods of sun. My route would take me up the Avalon Trail from the Crawford Depot to the A-Z Trail and then Mount Tom Spur to the summit.

Waning gibbous moon overhead as I leave for the trailhead

Presidential Range from the scenic view

Mount Washington summit in the clear

Sun rising as I arrive at the trailhead


Bridged water crossing

There was plenty of room in the Crawford Depot parking lot with only one other vehicle ahead of me then one more pulled in just after I arrived. It was cool but not cold so I started out with a couple of thin layers with a fleece outer layer. The only change I made during the hike was a cooler hat. The trail was firmly packed and I started out barebooting but as the trail started its upward climb I put the microspikes on. The spikes stayed on for the rest of the hike.

Another water crossing easily crossed

Mount Tom Spur Trail

The first water crossing was well bridged but sounded hollow halfway across, not to worry, there was shallow water beneath the ice. One more water crossing further up was also easily crossed. I passed a trio of hikers and never did see them again. I soon reached the trail junction and kept going straight onto the A-Z Trail. As I reached the upper steep sections of this trail my pace slowed and I found myself having to take frequent short breaks due to the chest cold I was dealing with. Up at the next trail junction I took a short break for a quick snack.

Plenty of snow as I get closer to the summit

Mount Carrigain

After my break I turned onto the Mt. Tom Spur for the final 0.6 mile to the summit. This is a gradual climb through a beautiful forest with a good amount of snow hanging on the trees. There was a couple of hikers that passed me on the way up. I stopped at the first outlook and captured a few photos. When I reached the next outlook the couple that passed me were on their way back down. I now had the entire summit to myself!

Mount Washington

Mount Washington summit from Mount Tom

Mount Field

Webster Cliffs

The outlook on the east side of the mountain had spectacular views to the south featuring the Presidential Range. The temperature was 41°F and there was no wind, not even a slight breeze. After some photos I made my way over to the official summit. There is a small cairn but no views. It is a short walk from here to a clearing that has a great view to the west.

Presidential Range

On the summit of Mount Tom

Gray jay greets me at the summit

It was at this time that a couple of gray jays swooped down on me. I opened my bag of mixed nuts and had them eating out of my hand. I managed to get a video and some photos of them. While I enjoyed their company I had to cut them off at some point or they would have taken every bit of my food as long as I kept putting it in my hand. I heard other hikers coming so I put my pack on and started my descent. 

Beakful of nut

There were many hikers on their way up as I was going down. The temperature was now warm enough to cause the snow to ball up on my microspikes. This would only happen when briefly stopping. A quick kick against a tree or rock and the snow would come off. I tried not to make too many stops. The warm temps were also causing the snow to melt from the tree branches and at times it felt as though it was raining. Once back on the Avalon Trail I took the loop path to Beecher and Pearl Cascades. There was not much to see except a lot of snow covering the cascades.

Crawford Brook

Back at Crawford Depot

I was soon back at the Crawford Depot. It was great to be back on the trail today after two weeks of down time. While I still didn't feel up to par I was glad to be outside in that fresh mountain air. This is a summit that I can now add to my completed list of winter 48 4,000 footers and a nice hike to end the month of January. 

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!


  1. Didn't realize you were under the weather. Your coming back very strong by the looks of your nice blog! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks...been a lot of sick "bugs" going around this winter and it takes awhile to get over it!