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Mt. Tom, Mt. Field, and Mt. Willey

Although the homebase here in central Massachusetts saw the week of October 20th arrive with only a dab of windshield frost and a morning shiver, when I drove up north for a late-season dayhike on the 22nd, I was met with a stiff, cold, steady breeze out of the northwest that brought with it some early season snow flurries.

Wednesday, October 22 (8.5 miles). As I was parking my car at Crawford Depot, it began to snow lightly. I began hiking on Avalon Trail, which rises slowly but steadily from Crawford Depot. For the first hour or so, the trail was uncovered, except for some leaves, but soon the trail was covered with new-fallen snow. Before that happened, however, I saw some moose tracks on the trail, mixed in with the tracks that hikers had made earlier in the week. Abut the time that the trail was becoming snow covered, I reached the junction of the A-Z Trail, which led me up to the col that lies between Mt. Tom and Mt. Field.

As I turned right onto the Mt. Tom Spur Trail, I heard voices and then notices some footprints in the snow. I soon caught up with a pair of hikers that were out for the day hiking over the same path I was traveling, but in the opposite direction. We summited Mt. Tom (elevation 4047 feet) together, and paused to talk for awhile on top. On the way down, we were hounded by a pair of Canadian Jays, and when I told the other hikers that these birds would often land on your hand in order to retrieve food, they attempted to coax the bird down from the trees with some granola bars, and were immediately successful. We parted our ways at the bottom of the Mt. Tom Spur Trail, and I continued another 100 yards up the A-Z Trail until I came to the junction of the Willey Range Trail.

The Willey Range Trail travels of the summits of Mt. Field (elevation 4326 feet) and Mt. Willey (elevation 4302 feet). As the trail approaches the summit of Mt. Field, the Avalon Trail enters from the left. My plans were to continue on to Mt. Willey, and then retrace my steps back to the top of Mt. Field, before taking the Avalon Trail back down to my car. As I followed The Willey Range Trail down to the col between mt. Field and Mt. Willey, two things happened. I stopped for several minutes to watch a woodpecker vigorously attack the trunk of a tree, and I decided I would rather than retrace my steps and climb the higher peak (Mt. Field) twice, I would continue on the Willey Range Trail until it meets up with the Ethan Pond Trail which I would follow back down to Route 302, whee I would then hitchhike back to my car. I'm glad I made that choice; the descent down the south side of Mt. Willey, while steep, was fun because in several places there were ladders to make things easier for hikers. While descending Mt. Willey, I met anothe apir of hikers--they didn't appear to be carrying enough for an overnight hike, yet were hiking deeper into the woods. I soon met up with the Ethan Pond Trail, which I had camped on on once before during a winter backpacking trip with my hiking partner, Phill.

I reached the trailhead just as darkness was descending on the valley, and I had quite a bit of trouble catching a ride back to my car. I walked two miles up Route 312 before a woman stopped and offered my a ride to my car. In the two miles I walked along Route 312, hers was only the 13th car that passed me going in my direction.

Total trip mileage, not including roadwalking, 8.5 miles.

Copyright © 1997, David Lister

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Document last modified on Friday, 19-Jan-2007 07:22:55 MST.