I had originally planned to hike the Twin's today for the challenge of and out and back. Weather had me choose a loop of Willey, Tom, and Field instead. The week had been very frustrating for me at work and personally and I really wanted to get a full day in on the trails even though I would need to do OT and I was working on Monday, I got myself to the Crawford Depot by 7am and hit the trails by 7:15pm. The good thing is that this is an easy loop for me and because of that, I decided to go by way of Avalon first and then hit Field. I would then head over to Willey and double back to Tom. This promised to be a good day in spite of the weather.
Heading up the Avalon Trail, Isis and I get our feet under us. This trail is traditionally rocky and in wet weather, this could prove slippery. The rain was already spitting and I had put my pack cover on but I decided to leave off the rain shell and bucket hat. It was just too humid today. Work had been done recently on the Avalon trail to improve drainage and the new water bars were nice. All three water crossings were also not a problem and as usual, I stopped to take pictures at my favorite one.
We moved quickly up the trail and made it to the junction by 8:30am. I decide at this point to head up by Avalon and get most of the elevation gain out of the way first. This section of trail is also in great shape and has had recent work done on it as well. New stairs and water bars are in place before the rocks and are greatly appreciated on this upward section. Isis and I continue up the trail and I keep reminding myself that after this it's just walking a ridge and dealing with a few PUD's. We take a few standing breaks so that I can catch my breath and we continue on. We reach the junction for the Avalon Spur at 8:45am and because of this, I decide to finally go up the 100 yards to Mt. Avalon (52 With a View List). I was impressed by the small summit and sat on the rocks with Isis for a little while over looking the AMC Highland Center.
After exploring Avalon, we made our way quickly down the spur and began making our push to Field. Our first hiker of the day would pass us here and I was thankful that the trails were so empty for a holiday weekend. The trail to Field lead us over new bog bridges and some pretty decent terrain. Once we got into the final push, I felt like it was going on forever and thought I missed a turn or something. I saw the section of trail that someone in winter bushwhacked straight up and briefly thought of taking it except had no clue where it came out. So, we played it safe and continued winding through the trails to the summit. I was feeling the humidity and as though I was swimming in my hiking clothes. I wanted to take a decent break at Field and hoped that the rain would hold off. The trail is a mix of rocks, roots, and loose rocks so, I am careful not to slip too much. After what seemed like forever, Isis and I arrived at Mt. Field for my 6th visit and her 3rd. The Grey Jay's made a brief appearance and one made a pass at my handful of mini dog biscuits to no avail because Isis wanted to eat him. We settled in for an apple and some much needed water for my furry companion. Hikers filtered in and out and we had a great conversation concerning the grid and how I was approaching it. Essentially, I am hiking now to hike and not staying to a set pattern of rounds. Hiking to the weather and what I want to in a given month makes it less like I am gridding and more like I am hiking.
We begin making our way to Willey and the rain is getting a little heavier. For a brief moment, I stop and almost turn back for fear that I'd be hiking in the pouring rain. Something told me to keep going to Willey. Something told me that it would not be that bad and that I would make it and back to Tom. So we kept walking over the Willey Range Trail and made our way down the loose rocky section and the brief scramble down the rocks. Then over a few more PUD's and made a few rest stops along the way. The rain actually felt nice up this high as it was still humid so, still no shell to speak of. We approached the messy section where a blow down had been obscuring the trail only to find that it had been cleared. I think I may have cheered just a little bit. Isis and I continue making our way over to the summit and make it in no time at all arriving at Willey for 11:45am. The day is moving to good time.
As we took a break for food and water, disappointed hikers were milling around the summit as if they were going to get a great view. Most had never been to this summit before so, I just remained quiet. Isis and I were just enjoying todays hike for the day being so relaxing. I was enjoying some beef jerky and gatorade while Isis ate her trail mix. We were joined by two ladies who stopped at the summit not knowing it was the summit. They were immediately taken by Isis and enquired about her breed and vital information. They asked her name and something made me hesitate. I said it any way and I was again told that this was not a good name. My face dropped and I kindly told the hiker how offended I had become by hearing this all too often and how disappointed I was that people automatically assume the negative when in fact, she had the name first (before the media made it negative) and that I who also had a now famous birthday could understand as I had my birthday first too. She apologized and unfortunately, I didn't really want to stick around any more. We chatted as we began packing up about favorite peaks and this hiker seemed to want to debate everything. I knew now to just get moving. I was growing tired of people who talk to talk and don't talk to listen. Isis and I began our trek back to Tom which would take us back over field. Heading back over the PUD's and back up the slide like trail, we made it back to Field by 1pm.
Before long, it is time for Isis and I to begin our trek back to the car. She had been plain with a stick and I found her falling asleep on top of it so, I hated to disturb her. The rain was getting heavier again except I was still hot and so, still no shell. Just the pack cover. Isis and I make our way back to the car. The going was slow due to the rocks and the rain making them slick. I was slipping because Isis was excited and pulling me downy he trail. She gets that way when she knows we are heading back to the car at the end. The same as when we begin to approach a summit. It's a balancing act with us. We pass a few hikers on our way out. One curious couple where the guy had no pack and his poor girlfriend was following behind with the pack on her back. I felt sad for her and wondered what their relationship was like. Then I also remembered how I was enjoying being single. Something about that couple just didn't seem right to me. Heading back down the trail and over the water crossings, we made it back to the car by 4pm. All in all, not a bad amount of time on the trails today and a great day in spite of the weather.
Once back in the car, I change and we head for home. I have to head back to work tomorrow after having just today off and I am a little tired of working six days a week. Better days I know are coming and I am hoping that the changes on the horizon arrive soon. With next weekend a non-hiking weekend due to family obligations, it now appears as though my next hike would be kicking off September as a birthday hike for myself and home base would be my favorite get away in Pittsburgh, NH...