Mia’s Birthday Hike

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.

Mia ready to go

This is one of those hikes where there is no easing into it.  Right from the get go you are climbing.

Kedron Flume was on our way.

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.

Kedron Flume. Pretty precipitous drop at the edge.
Kedron Flume. How long will those two “rocks” stay put?

It was cool but humid in the woods and we were putting in quite a bit of effort early on.  Luckily there are stairs.

God bless the trail crew that built these.

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.

Yes, it is that steep.

Imagine what they are like in the winter all covered in ice!

Mia wishing they were an escalator.
Yup, they really are steep, look at the guy below for a perspective shot.
One last pitch and they are done.

Mia was glad those were over…..

Yeah, done with the ladders!

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.

Looking down into Crawford Notch and route 302.

My beautiful wife contemplating what the heck she has gotten into today…..

Mia just enhances the beauty of this view.

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.

Out of focus summit shot on Willey

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.

Lunch time on 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.

Mia and Pete on Field, Mia’s 15th peak.
The Mt. Washington Resort in the distance

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.

Mia and Pete, Mt Tom, Mia’s 16th peak.

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.

Guinness benefits from my clutziness.

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.

-Pete

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2 thoughts on “Mia’s Birthday Hike

  1. I really enjoy reading of your hikes. You make it very interesting and personal. Thank you for sharing your experiences…you both are fortunate to have each other.

  2. Such a nice day, a nice hike, a wonderful partner and a yummy dinner for the birthday girl. Enjoyed the photos & legends that go along with them. Thanks for sharing…..

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