For Mia’s birthday this year, she wanted to hike another 4,000 footer and knock another one off her list. I suggested, why not just 1, how about 3 peaks in one hike.
So it was decided to hit the Willey (pronounced like silly), Field and Tom loop from the Willey House to the AMC Highland Center (I call it the Highland Hotel). This means a 2.5 downhill walk back to the car. I should have brought a bike and left it at the AMC center, but totally spaced it as we left early Saturday morning.
This hike doesn’t have the best views from each of the 3 peaks, but there are several locations along the ridge to look down into Crawford Notch, or west towards the Bonds and Franconia Notch and of course north towards the Presidential Range.
We arrived a little past 8:30 at the Willey House and we were the only car in the parking lot at that time.
This is one of those hikes where there is no easing into it. Right from the get go you are climbing.
As we quickly gained altitude it was pretty apparent to me how beat up this trail got in last August’s Hurricane/T.S. Irene as she came through NH. All over this area of the White Mountains there are signs of the damage, but it really became apparent when some of the trails are noticeably 1-2 feet lower than they used to be.
It was cool but humid in the woods and we were putting in quite a bit of effort early on. Luckily there are stairs.
We started to pass a few people at this point and luckily the overcast was starting to thin out a bit too.
Coming up towards the summit of Willey you run into some pretty sweet ladders/stairs. Without these, this would most certainly be a very difficult hike. I have to say that I prefer going up them instead of going down.
Imagine what they are like in the winter all covered in ice!
Mia was glad those were over…..
From the ladders/stairs it is about 15-20 more minutes to the peak. The actual peak is in the trees, but about 50 feet before the true summit there is a small detour that brings you out to some nice views of Crawford Notch.
My beautiful wife contemplating what the heck she has gotten into today…..
So just a few meters more and we bag the first peak of the day. Mia’s 14th on her quest to summit all 48 of the 4,000 Footers in NH.
From here it is only about 1.4 miles to Field. It’s a quick descent and then a nice rolling ridge walk before the very short bump up to the summit of Field.
It was about noon time so it was an appropriate place to stop for lunch. Field is again a wooded summit, but a few yards away is some pretty sweet views looking north and east.
From Field it is a long downhill until you hook up with the Mt Tom spur trail. Nothing overly difficult about this section at all. We made good time and stashed our packs at the base of the spur trail. It’s an up and back 1/2 mile each way. No need to lug our packs up there. It felt like we were flying without the added weight of water, food, gear.
From Mt Tom down to the AMC Highland Center it is a longish 2.4 miles. At first you lose altitude quickly and the trail is pretty steep, then the last 1.3 miles it is more gentle and crosses a stream a few times.
The only downer of the whole hike was the 2.5 mile road walk back to the car. It was hot, sunny, and we were ready for some good food. Just before we got to the car, there was a whole mess of fire, ambulance, and police attaching some dude from a motorcycle to a backboard. No idea what happened, but it didn’t look pretty. Hopefully the guy is okay.
Anyways from there it was off to Woodstock and the Woodstock Station. This is one of our go to places in the Whites. Good food, great beer and good prices. What more can you ask for?
I unfortunately dropped my leftovers and the box flew open and they landed in the sand. Bummer, since this was a really good sandwich called the Train Wreck. So, I brought it home for the cat to munch on.
So, happy birthday to my beautiful wife! it was a great way to spend the day and I couldn’t ask for a better person to spend the rest of my life with. Especially since she does stuff like this with me!
Thanks for reading.