Saturday, March 7, 2015


A spectacular late winter day - cold but sunny and nearly windless - for snowshoeing on the Willey Range. It was -8 degrees at 7 am at home, but once the sun came up things warmed up a bit.

Crawford Brook was really buried at the first crossing on the Avalon Trail.

The trail had been hardpacked for 0.1 mile to the Mount Willard Trail junction. After that there were several inches of powder atop the old track, choppily broken by one set of snowshoe prints and one line of bare boot tracks. 

Although the steep Avalon Trail is a shorter route to Mount Field, I prefer the more moderate approach via the A-Z Trail and Willey Range Trail, which meant heading to the right at this junction.

Dropping into the steep gully just beyond the junction.

I really enjoy the woods as the A-Z Trail climbs up the south side of the Crawford Brook valley. There are some big gnarled old yellow birches in here.

Nice open woods.

Farther up the valley, just as I was getting tired of packing down the chopped-up track, Luke Glavey from Campton, a frequent customer at my store, caught up to me and took over trail-breaking duties up to the Field-Tom col.

The upper stream crossing where the steeper climb up the headwall of the valley begins.

A great day for snowshoeing in the mountains!

At the Field-Tom col we were met by the mascots of the Willey Range.

Thanks for posing!

I had a sandwich tucked under my arm and this hungry jay was going for it.

Luke at the Mount Tom Spur junction.

We were surprised to find a well-packed track coming up the A-Z Trail from Zealand Trail. We figured it must have been a group from Zealand Hut.

This made the trek up the Willey Range Trail easier than we expected. It's a great approach with moderate grades and beautiful snow-laden woods.

Four-foot snowpack.

A glimpse of the Twin Range through a fir wave.

The Avalon Trail was all drifted in at the junction just below the summit of Mount Field.

The short, steep pitch up the summit nubble.

The Twin-Bond Range from a spot just north of the summit of Field. This is one of those peaks where views are greatly enhanced by late winter snowpack.

North Twin and its great east slide.

The northeast viewpoint is also better in winter.

The Presys, shining like a beacon in the bright March sun.

Mount Tom, Cherry Mountain and distant horizons.

The drifted-in summit clearing of Mount Field.

Luke needed Mount Willey (seen below) for his winter list so he headed across the ridge. I went 0.2 mile towards Willey to an open fir wave spot that has decent views in summer but terrific views with deep snow.

This opening offers a unique spread of the eastern Pemi Wilderness, whose somber forests are perhaps the wildest country in the Whites.

The sprawling Hancock range.

Mount Carrigain, Carrigain Notch, and the Sandwich Range.

Looking out towards the remote Shoal Pond area.

Though the temperature might have been in the single numbers (the high on Mount Washington was -1), the strong sun and lack of wind made it comfortable enough to sit on my pack for a half hour and soak in this marvelous vista. Winter doesn't get any better than this.

Back atop Mount Field, I paused briefly for another look at the Presys.

Perfect snowshoeing conditions descending north from Mount Field.

It was late in the afternoon, but the track to Mount Tom was so well-packed by the group from Zealand that I couldn't resist the side trip on the Mount Tom Spur.

Approaching the west view on Mount Tom.

Another neat angle on the eastern Pemi Wilderness.

Presidential vista from Tom's eastern viewpoint.

Mount Jackson and the Webster Cliffs, with Stairs, Resolution and Crawford beyond.

Gray Jay and Mount Field.

On the way down, Presy alpenglow glimpsed from the A-Z Trail.

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