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Bethlehem, New Hampshire, United States
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24 November 2015

A Trek to Mt. Avalon . . . Sort of!

Those who follow my blog might recall a statement made in a recent posting which indicated that many of my recent adventures have been "un-blog-worthy".  The trek described in this report comes very close to falling into that category.  However, I've reluctantly opted to post it anyway since at least there are some familiar locations and place names which are often lacking in many of my offbeat expeditions. So, here is a report of recent adventure that I consider as being just minimally "blog-worthy"! :-)

In mid-November 2015, it came to mind that it had been a while since I'd done a conventional hike to a traditional destination.  Thus, I began the day with the thought of doing a rather unadventurous loop by hiking to Mt. Avalon, then continuing onward to Mt. Field, and finally going on over to Mt. Tom, and from there head back to my starting point.

However, having done that on-trail loop (and other similar hikes) many times, I just couldn't muster the enthusiasm to do the 'same old, same old'.  And besides, I've lately developed a liking for hikes that are less time-consuming, which leaves time in the day to participate in other activities and pursue other interests.

And so, a short (and somewhat daft) loop was hastily crafted that involved hiking about 2 miles on-trail, and about 1 mile off-trail.  A general idea of my route is shown on the Google Earth image below.
General idea of the route taken for this trek
The bushwhack from the Avalon Trail to Mt. Avalon's south-facing ridgeline was relatively straightforward in terms of navigation.  Just leave the trail after the second brook crossing, then head south to where the ridgeline drops off precipitously to the Crawford Notch. That's it! The woods along my bushwhack route were generally okay, but I've definitely experienced better conditions.  Progress was slowed in some spots by patches of hobble bush, and an occasional jumble of downed trees.

As planned, I arrived at the crest of the south-facing ridgeline at a point several tenths of a mile east of Mt. Avalon's summit.  Although there were no bare rock slabs that could be used for sitting and enjoying the vista, viewpoints were easy to find due to the sheer drop-off all along the ridgeline.  Shown below are a couple of snapshots taken from one of these lookouts. (As vividly displayed in these two photos, intense shadows form quickly in the mountains at mid-afternoon in mid-November!)
Looking southward down the Crawford Notch
Looking easterly toward Mt. Webster, Mt. Jackson and Mt. Pierce
After taking a few snapshots of the Crawford Notch views, a decision needed to be made as to which variety of "steep" to pursue.  Should I head steeply upward to the top of Mt. Avalon and then take the Mt. Avalon Trail back to my starting point?  Or, should I head steeply downward to the col between Mt. Avalon and Mt. Willard, and then head eastward for a short distance to intersect the Mt. Willard Trail and take it back to my starting point?

Since the woods along the ridgeline were relatively thick, it was decided that going downhill through somewhat thick woods might be better than pushing my way uphill through thick conifers and downed trees.  Overall, I think this turned out to be a good decision.  However, it should be noted that three separate bands of cliffs were unexpectedly encountered during my descent.  But, as bushwhackers know, you can almost always find a way to negotiate these obstacles.  And such was the case this time as well.

Upon reaching the col between Mt. Avalon and Mt. Willard, it was no surprise when swampy conditions were encountered.  I had visited this area on other occasions, and so it was anticipated that there would be a short tract of land requiring attentive foot placement to avoid sinking into the muck.  But, on the positive side, these wetlands provide an opening in the forest which allows for a unique view of Mt. Avalon.
Mt. Avalon as viewed from a wetlands area in the col between Mt. Avalon and Mt. Willard
It was a quick (less than 15 minutes) and easy bushwhack from the col to meet up with the Mt. Willard Trail.  While descending that trail, a short side path was taken to visit the little cascade at the spot known as Centennial Pool.
The small cascade just off the Mt. Willard Trail at the spot known as Centennial Pool
To sum it up, it's debatable as to whether this report was worthy of a blog posting, or whether it should have been thrown into my pile of other unpublished escapades that I consider as being "un-blog-worthy".  I fully appreciate that many hikers find treks such as this to be unappealing, especially since oftentimes there is no definitive destination, and whenever there is one, it's rarely on any "list".  And, I'm also mindful that although this style of hiking is enjoyable for me, perhaps for others, "not so much"! :-)