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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"! :-)


Ken MacGray said...

I definitely would not consider this unblogworthy! It's precisely these kinds of offbeat adventures that I enjoy reading about in your blog and on Facebook. :)

1HappyHiker said...

Thanks Ken!

Please don’t feel that it’s disingenuous of me to compliment you by saying that I truly enjoy the refreshing slant on the treks that you undertake. And your photos . . . they are always first-rate!


Chris Dailey said...

I had never considered exploring off trail over to those ledges, I'm always looking at Willard and Avalon and completely have overlooked what's in between! Thanks for posting pics and your report for yet another little off trail gem! :)


1HappyHiker said...

Thanks for posting your comments, Chris!

Can never remember the exact wording, but there’s a saying that goes something like . . . It’s all about the journey, not the destination. Regardless, I think you might agree that like-minded folks can enjoy the heck out of journeys such as this, and it matters not if there is a defined destination. :-)


Steve Smith said...

A very cool and most worthy exploration, John! Sounds like there was some "interesting" terrain in that "tweener" area. Keep
em coming!


1HappyHiker said...

Hi Steve . . . your comments are very appreciated!

It always intrigues me when I see two trails (like Avalon and Willard trails) that are so close to each other in proximity, but there is no connecting link between them. For this and other explorations of the terrain between “unlinked” trails, I've usually discovered that the topography would make it impractical to construct a conventional hiking trail. However, you would perhaps agree that during our separate ramblings we have found some exceptions where the terrain isn’t a limiting factor for connecting trails that are unconnected. In those instances, there are usually other limiting factors, such as lack of funding, etc, etc.


One Day in America said...

I agree with the other commenters, John. This post is definitely blog-worthy! Because I live in a moisture-starved desert, I always appreciate seeing photos of the brooks, streams and cascades you encounter on your hikes.
I do like networks of interconnecting trails, but perhaps it's best to leave some areas for serious bushwhackers such as you—which keeps these special places from being "loved to death"!

1HappyHiker said...

Thanks for your comments, Rita.

Guess we all enjoy seeing something different. I take great pleasure in seeing the photos in your postings about the “moisture-starved desert” where you live!

And yes, I agree that it’s probably best to let some areas remain “trail-less” for those who seek a different way to enjoy their outdoor experience.


ab said...


Your blog entries are always worthwhile reading. I personally wasn't reading as much (if you remember who I am), because I was living in Washington state and left Facebook. I moved back at the end of April. Spent a month around here. Spent 2 months on the AT. Spent a month recovering. Now I've spent 3 months looking for a job. Hard to stay in Maine as a software engineer, but I'm pretty certain I'll have something pinned down out of state reasonably soon here (who knows though). Anyway, readership doesn't change the fact you provide valuable info and an interesting perspective to the outdoors. While you may not have quantity, you certainly have quality of readership in Chris Dailey and Steve Smith.

My perspective is- Keep on writing! My view is writing is down in the Northeast community period. Views from the Top doesn't seem as active as it once was. People have shifted more to something like which is to the point. Nonetheless, do your thing. It's great.


1HappyHiker said...

Hi Chance . . . yes, I do remember you and the thoughtful feedback that you have contributed to my past blogs. And, I thank you for taking time to post your comments to this blog posting. Very much appreciated!

Best wishes to you for finding a new job that suits your skill set, and is to your liking, and offers a decent wage. Admittedly, that “hat trick” is sometimes difficult to achieve, but fingers are crossed that you’ll do it!


ab said...

Hi John,

Thanks. Money isn't as important to me as it used to be. I've been very fortunate to manage my money well and be compensated well. That said, it's frustrating to lower my salary demand to stay in Maine and be told I am overqualified. *shrug* Maine's loss- Mississippi's or DC's or Colorado's or Florida's gain.

Hopefully you got out this weekend. It was lovely. I did some trail running around Pinkham Notch and was treated to some nice views on the Auto Road and some trail running in the Wonalancet area yesterday. I'll try to post pictures when I browse to your site on my phone. I'd like to get some backcountry skiing in before the inevitable move, but mother nature has other ideas.

Mt Washington Avalanche Center did post its first bulletin of this season this past Friday-

All the best,

ab said...

Pinkham Notch: