My girlfriend and I started out from the Willey House on Kedron Flume Trail at 08:30. A series of easy switchbacks and crossing an active railroad bed brings you to the intersection of the Willey Range Trail at 1.3 miles. Its pretty easy going until you reach the Ladders, a very steep section with log-ladders in very good condition. Its possible to walk up the ladders but some sections were hands and knees. We were mindful of not using our trekking poles on the wood but rather on the rocks on either side. Be sure to glance behind you as you ascend as there are some magnificent views.
Soon enough we came to an outlook just below the Willey summit and decided to munch our pb&j's. Much to my delight, we were joined by 1, then 2, and finally 3 Gray Jays, the camp-robbers who are anything but shy, and we both had them eating right out of our hands. Then a young couple caught up with us, and as it turns out the fella had found my lost sunglasses on the trail and asked if they were ours. Yeah! Thanks a lot! It seems we only meet the nicest people out hiking. Not sure if only nice people hike, or everyone is so happy to be out there that even sourpusses lighten up?
So we tagged the summit cairn, did our summit shot, and headed over to Field. Unfortunately, the sky opened up on us and we donned all the raingear we had, but for me my marmot shell and new EMS waterproof lid wasn't enough and I was soon soaked from the waist down. Our mini-gaiters helped keep water out of our shoes until the puddles filled up and the mud-bogs appeared, so we just kept on. An easy climb up to Field, tag and photo, and on over to Tom, bypassing the Avalon trail on our right. Here we met many many hikers on their way to a camp-out. We made it to the A-Z Trail intersection and took the spur up to Tom. By this time it was raining again and we could hear occassional thunderbooms, so we stayed only long enough for summit shot and headed down. We descended the A-Z Trail, an arduously steep trail, and our knees really took a pounding, but beautiful views of the river cheered us up, and we chatted with several more parties of hearty hikers.
Finally we emerged from the woods near the Crawford Notch Visitors center nad proceeded to walk the 5 or swo miles back to the Willey House along Rt 302, when K decided that she wanted hitch a ride! We only walked for about 1/8th mile before a gray-haired gentlemen in a small pickup, going the OTHER WAY, slowed down and asked us if we needed a ride! He turned around and we sat in the back of the pickup, so as not to get his truck wet and muddy, like us, and he brought us to our car where we offered him a cold beverage, and Man O Man, that beer never tasted so good! We talked and laughed with him and listened with baited breath to his stories of hiking the complete AT last year! He was so happy just to help us out seeing as so many had helped him on his quest last year.
We didn't even catch his name, but if he reads this, he will know it was us, and we say once again, THANK YOU!
Footnote: I climbed Tom and Field 2 winters ago right after a snow in zero degree weather, and it was killer! Bara and I broke trail the whole way, and with the steepness of it, it was very tough, but we did it and then bagged Field. The trail being unbroken over to Willey, we decided to save it for another day, and here it took almost TWO YEARS to get back and do Willey for my 37th peak, and K's 5th. Don't pass by Mt Avalon on the Avalon trail either if the sky is clear, great spot for a lunch with magnificent views of the Presidentials!
Rt 302 North of Bartlett, park in the lot to the left of the Willey House, on right side of parking lot there is a sign for Kedron Flume Trail
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