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Friday, August 29th 2014

8:08 PM

Mt Field NH loop hike 8/29/14

     When I arrived at the Crawford Depot parking area in time to start my hike at 9:30 AM, there were only two other parking spaces left besides the one I parked in.  It was cool and sunny, with some lingering clouds covering Mt Washington.  There were a lot of loose rocks in the trail.  At the crossing of Crawford Brook, I met a couple of backpackers coming downhill.  They told me they had started at Lafayette and had camped two nights on there way here. 

     The trail got much steeper when I turned up the Avalon trail.  There were some areas of rock steps and one area where it looked like there had been large rock steps but the force of flooding snow melt had thrown them all asunder.  This was the hardest area of hiking I encountered all day.  By 11:30 AM I arrived on the summit of Avalon, which I had all to myself.  There were great views here of Mt Jefferson, Mt Monroe, Mt Eisenhower, Mt Pierce, Mt Jackson and Mt Webster.  Mt Washington was covered in a blanket of white clouds.  It was sunny without any breeze or wind.  I rested and ate a donut.  Near the summit was a bush of lingonberries with many ripe berries.  There was a lookout towards Mt Field and Mt Tom and I felt confident that I could climb both of them.  I had climbed Mt Tom in 2007 but Mt Field would be a new mountain for me.

     I left Mt Avalon at 11:59 AM and continued on to Mt Field, meeting some hikers along the way who had started at Willey House.  When I arrived at the summit of Mt Field at 12:58 PM there was a family from Ottawa, Canada seated around the viewless summit cairn.  I continued to the lookout.  Here I could see the Mt Washington Hotel and the mountains to the north of it.  I could see out to Mt Washington but the mountains to the south of Mt Washington were blocked from sight by trees.  A couple from Sherbrooke, Canada came down briefly to share the lookout.  After they left, while I was eating lunch, a couple of gray jays came to visit.  I broke the remaining half of my sandwich into pieces and fed the jays by hand.  At one point I took a picture of one of the jays. 

     After that I spoke to the Ottawans who told me that they, too, planned to continue on to Mt Tom.   I left the summit at 1:37 while the Ottawans were still resting.  The trail from Field down to the A-Z trail goes along the top of a ridge.  It is gradual and flat and has footing of dirt or flat rock.  On either side is very dense mossy spruce forest.  This trail was a joy to hike on.  I met a number friendly hikers along the way, all coming back from a visit to Mt Tom.  When I got near the top of Mt Tom, the Ottawans caught up with me and we talked quite a bit while we were on the summit.

     I arrived at the main lookout on Mt Tom at 2:45 PM.  Although the young spruce trees had been growing up since my last visit in 2007, and were threatening to destroy the view, you could still see a wonderfully grand panorama of the Presidential peaks.  On Mt Washington we could see one of the cog railway trains. 

     I passed a cairn on the summit on my way to the other lookout.  Here I could see South Twin, Zealand, Zealand falls and the shelter there, and Hale Mtn, among others.  There was a good view of lofty Mt Carrigain.  Clouds were shading these peaks unlike the sunny Presidential peaks.  I left the summit at 3:10 PM.  The A-Z trail descended very steeply and I had very slow going until I reached the junction with the Avalon trail.  I was back out at 6:00 PM. 

     It was a wonderful and adventurous loop hike.  I hope that the powers that be will see fit to save the Mt Tom vista from being lost by growing trees.  If not, I am glad I visited it twice while the view was still there.     

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