Wednesday, January 9, 2013

MT. TOM: 1/8/13

With a forecast for sun and relatively balmy temperatures, it seemed like a good day to head for a high peak. Mt. Tom in the Willey Range is one of the nicest 4000-footers in winter, with a pleasant trail route at mostly moderate grades (with an occasional steep pitch), and views that are much improved with a platform of snow.

I parked mid-morning near the Highland Center, where there is a fine view of Mt. Tom looming to the west.

I crossed the railroad tracks behind the Macomber Family Information Center (closed in winter, and parking unplowed) and set off on the Avalon Trail. As expected, there was a fine snowshoe track, ideal for trekking in my MSRs.

The crossing of Crawford Brook 1/4 mile in was well-frozen.

Farther up the trail I made a short detour to a ledge with a view up the brook.

My favorite part of the route to Mt. Tom is the section of the A-Z trail as it winds up the south side of the cirque-like valley along the upper part of Crawford Brook. There were a couple inches of dry powder atop the old track along the A-Z Trail, broken only by a set of boot prints from earlier today.

This is a sunless area in winter, but the woods are open and beautiful.

Tree patterns along the trail as it angles up the headwall of the valley.

Looks like winter up here!

Approaching the Tom-Field col, some peeks of sun ahead.

The weathered trail sign for Mt. Tom Spur.

The Mt. Tom Spur has mostly easy grades, with a bit of steeper climbing towards the end.

A tight passage through snow-plastered conifers.

A preview vista of Mt. Carrigain from a blowdown spot just off the trail.

The best views from Mt. Tom are from an open blowdown area, reached by a 70-yard side track that diverges right shortly before the true summit is reached. From this fine spot, the Presidentials were shining today. It was warm - probably in the 20s - with little wind, and quite comfortable to linger.

I hadn't been up here in a few years, and had forgotten how sweet the view is out towards the
Pemi Wilderness, with the western spurs of Mt. Field in front and Mt. Carrigain and the sprawling ridges of Mt. Hancock in back.

Mt. Field, highest of the Willey Range, looms close by to the south.

To the SW are Mts. Bond and Guyot, and Zealand Ridge.

Looking towards the Webster Cliffs, on the east side of Crawford Notch.

A zoom on Webster Cliffs. To the right are Stairs Mountain, Mt. Resolution, Mt. Parker and Mt. Crawford.

For a while I was joined at the outlook by Luke Glavey, a customer at the store, and his son, Ryan. Mt. Tom was Ryan's first winter 4000-footer, after having completed them all in summer. One of his snowshoes broke on the way up, so he completed the hike in Microspikes.

Snow-coated summit trees.

After spending more than an hour at the south outlook, I returned to the main trail, which bends left and soon reaches another blowdown patch at the true summit of Mt. Tom. The view here is getting progressively more grown up as young firs regenerate in this "fir wave." The mid-afternoon view across the Zealand Valley to the Twins was quite hazy.

On the way back down the A-Z Trail, I stopped to admire this gnarled, Ent-like yellow birch.

Descending into the steep, deep gully the trail crosses just above the Avalon Trail junction. Probably the most challenging spot on the route, especially if the snow is crusty.

Near the bottom I took the short loop past Pearl and Beecher Cascades. Though the cascades aren't much to look at when buried in snow, this narrow little path offered the best snowshoeing of the day, with a softly packed track.

A pool in Crawford Brook just below Pearl Cascade. Nice way to end a fine day in the mountains.


  1. Steve, you always do such a fine job of photo-documenting the key points along the route to each of your destinations. For this particular trek, it seems to me that you did an especially skillful piece of work. When I quickly scroll down your series of images, my mind sort of "sees" something akin to a video clip of your journey to Mt. Tom.


  2. Thank you for your kind comment, John. I take way too many pictures, but always have a good time doing it.