Overnight at Ethan Pond and Willey Range/Zealand Notch Loop

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Rhody Seth

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Dec 18, 2015
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Charlestown, RI
After pushing myself through a big day on the Friday morning of Memorial Day weekend I subsequently planned to drive over through Crawford Notch and camp at Ethan Pond on Friday afternoon. However I was feeling worn out by the time I reached that trailhead and wasn't sure how the night would go.

It was 2.5 miles and 1500' of gain to reach the Ethan Pond campsite - a trip more arduous than it would normally be. The caretaker asked that I not use a tent platform for my hammock so that they could be saved for tenters. Fair enough but I was still a bit salty since it was already late in the day and only one platform had been claimed at this point (one other tent would show up but the other three platforms would remain empty). Despite his claims there didn't seem to be a ton of great spots to hang - I had to do a bit of clearing to make one work. It ended up being a fine spot and I wound up using the nearby platform to boil my water and relax. I felt pretty bad by the time my hammock was set up and around 5:30 PM I crawled in and promptly fell asleep, waking every 30 mins or so and then finally rousing myself at 7 PM. I had hoped the rest would do me some good but I actually felt worse - now I had a full fledged headache and even woke to chills (it was about 50°F at this point). The chills abated after a few minutes and a mixture of aspirin and time finally relieved my head. Around 9 PM my appetite returned with a vengeance and I devoured my rehydrated meal of beef stew and promptly went to bed.

I woke up at 4:30 AM feeling 300% better. It may have been the best night of sleep I had in the hammock with minimal bathroom calls. My original plan, which I had already sort of given up on, was back on the table. With a light pack, I went over the Willey Range Trail, grabbing three 4000 footers and even jogging much of the descents. I felt so good that I decided to scrap my original plan of an out 'n back and instead continue down the A-Z Trail with the plan to take the Ethan Pond Trail back. It added about five miles to the day but eliminated much of the elevation. And it allowed me to experience Zealand Notch which features some truly impressive vistas and boulders along some really scenic and flat trails. As a bonus I got to visit Thoreau Falls which were very remote and very splendid. It turned out to be a great decision to go this way.

So a rough start to this trip but it turned around and I had a fantastic second day. Glad I forced myself to hike up to Ethan Pond!

 
Enjoyed your trip report and video. I've always loved that stretch of trail between Willey and Field. What were the odds that you had the three peaks to yourself during the holiday weekend? Always wanted to explore the A-Z between Tom and Zealand, so thanks for taking me there.
 
What were the odds that you had the three peaks to yourself during the holiday weekend?

I was surprised. I encountered a group of four coming from Field not long after I left Willey. They were not moving fast so gods knew how early they must have started. I could hear voices as I left Field and then ran into a couple folks as came down from Tom. Timed it just right!
 
Enjoyed your trip report and video. I've always loved that stretch of trail between Willey and Field. What were the odds that you had the three peaks to yourself during the holiday weekend? Always wanted to explore the A-Z between Tom and Zealand, so thanks for taking me there.
Definitely go! We loved that section of the A-Z.
 
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