View Full Version : Field-Willey-Tom & the Osceolas

12-27-2003, 06:36 PM
Friday December 26th, I've got a couple days off and the blessings of my wife to go have fun...what could be better? I drive to Crawford Notch and since it's been snowing and the typical hiker parking lots are not plowed yet (i.e. the one on Mt. Clinton Rd.) I park at the Ritz Crawford, load up the gear, put on the snowshoes, and set out on the Avalon trail for Mt. Tom. The trail is unbroken, with 6-8" of new powder, and I make fresh tracks to the juction of the A-Z trail, 1.3 miles from the road. While taking a break to make some clothing adjustments, I am joined by another snowshoer who introduces himself as Jim and we swap off the trail breaking to the summit of Mt. Tom. Well, actually he leaves me in the dust here, but graciously allows me to break out the spur trail to Tom's summit! It's still snowing and there's no views, a recurring theme for the day, so we head back down the spur trail and cross the A-Z, climbing to Mt. Field, then across to Willey. On the way back we meet a few more hikers, the first we've seen since the start. At the summit of Field, we join up with 4 NH AMC chapter hikers that Jim happens to know, and the 6 of us descend via Mt. Avalon. It's a great day for snowshoeing, despite the lack of summit views, and I meet a great bunch of people.

After a pizza in Twin Mt. I crash in a local motel and relax to a night of college football on the TV. Saturday morning is bright and clear, though a bit windy, but at least there'll be some views today. Since the wind forecast is for strong blasts, I decide to head down to the Kanc and to the Greeley Ponds trail and the Osceolas. The snow depth at the western end of the Kanc is about a foot less than at Crawford Notch. I decide to use the shoes anyway, and keep them on until about 15 minutes before reaching the slide of East Osceola. I switch to crampons, but bare boots would have been sufficient. Again today I am the first one on the trail, though someone had tracked this out yesterday. At the summit of East peak, the tracks stop and I am thrashing once more through lightly drifted snow, making the first tracks across the ridge. There's enough of a base beneath the boot-top deep powder that I forgo putting on the snowshoes. I am leery of trying to climb the chimney with them, and it turns out that the bare booting works just fine. I use the chimney bypass and it presents no serious issues. The crampons help a bit on the steep parts of trail, letting me front point my way up. I arrive at the summit of Osceola and still have not seen another hiker to this point.

I think about things like being alone and how I am unusually cautious in circumstances like this. At 55 years old, things like heart problems wander through your head more than they did at 25 when I was invincible. Plus I begin to imagine what would happen if a simple fractured ankle or, worse, a broken leg should befall me here. With no one around for miles, death would be a stark reality. Then 5 minutes later, on my traverse back to East peak, I run into 2 more hikers. But depsite them, it still brings to mind the dangers of solo hiking in the winter in the Whites, and that the risk is counterbalanced by the alternative of staying home and being a couch potato. And week after week, I enjoy taking the risk.

Across East peak, then a lightning fast descent, boot skiing and butt sliding my way down the steeper sections. Back to the car in 5 hours...a hike I completed in 3 hours only 2 months ago. The admonitions by the guide books to "double your hiking times in winter" is driven home. A nice 2 days overall...5 new ones off the winter list, with 24 more to go.


12-28-2003, 03:49 PM
Great job, Max! Sounds like you had a super time for yourself. Yes, I can imagine your thoughts re: solo hiking. But, it beats being a couch potato. Audrey, Marge and I were on the Monoosnoc Trail today, and were wondering if you and your wife were hiking up Mt. Wachusetts?

12-28-2003, 06:53 PM
No, we got caught up in a "clean out the basement" frenzy! :rolleyes: Looks like we might go over for a morning hike on Monday before I head off for work...don't want to waste this unseasonable weather!

12-28-2003, 07:01 PM
Yes, indeed it sounds like you had fun. Nice report. Keep up the winter list peak by peak. Your half way home. Well NH anyway. :cool: