Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Back to WTF for February

Summits: Willey (4,285'), Tom (4,051'), Field (4,340')
Trail route: Avalon Trail, A-Z Trail, Mt. Tom Spur, Willey Range Trail
Trail conditions: Packed trails with a couple inches of fresh overnight snow
Weather: Cold temps, calm wind, cloudy with snow
Total miles: 10
Total time:  7:25

I would be hiking the same summits today for February as I hiked last weekend for January. Last week was a solo hike but today I would be joining Guy, Jill, Amy L, Jim, Amy D, Robin and Kally. Guy and I would be hiking earlier than the others. We would first hike to Mount Tom then across the Willey Range Trail and meet everyone else on Mount Field. We planned on hiking 45 minutes before the others in hopes that we would meet up at the same time.

Guy pulled up and parked behind me on Route 302 beside the Crawford Depot. We started out with snowshoes and that seemed to work well with the fresh snow. The two water crossings were much easier today than last weekend as we made our way up the Avalon Trail. We reached the A-Z Trail and switched to microspikes but the snowshoes could have stayed on. We continued onto the Mt Tom Spur and were soon on the summit. It was cold with a stiff breeze blowing so there would be no lingering. Some quick photos and we were on our way down.

We got down to the trail junction and started walking the 80 yards to the Willey Range Trail. It was here that we met a young woman hiking in snowshoes with her dog who said they had just come from Mount Field and were on their way to Mount Tom. We thought that was good because the fresh snow would be packed down. We got to the Willey Range Trail and here's where it got strange. There were no footprints or snowshoe prints only dog prints. So we're not sure how she came over from Mount Field. That will remain a mystery.

It was a nice hike up to the Avalon Trail junction. I was wondering if our timing would be correct for meeting the others. We had only been at the trail junction for a couple of minutes when I saw Jim coming up the Avalon Trail. It would be several more minutes before the ladies appeared but I considered that pretty good timing. We all took a break and I changed back into my snowshoes. Another 100 yards and we were on the summit of Mount Field.

We stayed here for a few minutes then continued on to Mount Willey. There had been one hiker with snowshoes over this trail and back before us so it was somewhat packed down but had a solid base underneath as long as we didn't stray off the trail. We had one momentary partial clear view of the high summits through the trees. The clouds were low when we got to Mount Willey outlook and there were no further views to any other summits.

We went back to the summit and had a short birthday celebration for Robin. I had something to eat and took a few photos then we started our hike back to Crawford Depot. It was just as we started back that my camera stopped working. I'm assuming the battery is getting old and not holding a good charge because I have never had this problem before and I've been in colder weather. I took the battery out of the camera and put it beside a hand warmer in my pocket. This seemed to bring it back to life but not for long. It prevented me from getting a video on this hike but I was able to get a few more photos using this warming method.

We got back to Mount Field and it would be all downhill from here. At the Avalon Trail junction Jim broke off and went over to Mount Tom then would meet us further down the Avalon Trail. As we got down to the steeper sections of the Avalon Trail the snow was perfect for buttsliding. That was a lot of fun and a quick way to descend. Jim came up behind us just as we got to the last water crossing and we all arrived back at the Crawford Depot at the same time.

This hike was much more fun with hiking companions than hiking it alone last week. These summits added to my grid count and I am now at 300 of 576!

Enjoy the photos!

 The hike starts here at the Crawford Depot

 At the Avalon trailhead

Guy crosses without a problem

Guy happy to be at the A-Z Trail

On the A-Z Trail

Brook is filling back in with snow since recent rain washed his out

Snowy woods

 Arriving at the Mt Tom Spur

Snow sticks to the windward side of these trees

 Mt Tom Spur trail

 Arriving at the Mt Tom summit

 Mt Tom summit

 A bit chilly on the Mt Tom summit

 Heading toward the Willey Range Trail

 Turning onto the Willey Range Trail

 Snow creature beside the trail

 On our way to Mount Field

 Snowy woods

 Trail sign is close to being buried in snow

 Guy is coming up the Willey Range Trail

 Jim is coming up the Avalon Trail

 Gray jay greeting us at the trail junction

 Gray jay on the summit of Mount Field

 Kally unexpectedly sat down

 A view on the way to Mount Willey

Jim makes his way up the Willey Range Trail toward Mount Willey

 A momentary view toward the high summits

A low passage through the trees

Guy enjoying the view from Mount Willey

Celebrating Robin's birthday on Mount Willey

Amy squeezes through a tight spot on the trail

Jill wearing a clump of snow that fell on her head

It's all downhill from the summit of Mount Field

Everybody makes it across this water crossing without getting wet

Descending the Avalon Trail single file

Final water crossing with a good snow bridge

Back at Crawford Depot to complete the hike

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!