A Nice Double Hike . . . Willey Range + Ike & Pierce

Date of Hike: 12/16/18

Avalon Trail: 1.3 miles  /  A-Z Trail: 1.0 miles  /  Mount Tom Spur: 1.2 miles  /  Willey Range Trail: 3.7 miles  /  Avalon Trail: 2.8 miles  /  Crawford Path: 4.3 miles  /  Mount Eisenhower Loop: 0.8 miles  /  Crawford Path: 1.2 miles  /  Webster Cliff Trail: 0.2 miles  /  Crawford Path: 3.1 miles
Total Miles: 19.6 miles (7,892 feet elevation gained)

Trip Report:
- Sunday's plan was to head up Jefferson, Washington, and Monroe.  However, as I was driving up Base Station Road I got the sense that the wind was whipping a little stronger than forecasted.  With this in mind I decided to stay lower instead of battling the winds for an extended period of time above treeline.
- I headed to Crawford Notch for an early hike of the Willey Range. I only saw two other hikers until almost back to the trailhead,  The trails were well packed down and my snowshoes went for a free ride strapped to my backpack.
- Views from the outlooks near the summits of Tom, Field, and Willey were great.  The Presidential Range seemed so close and looked great covered in deep white snow.  I was kind of regretting not heading up there but the wind was blowing pretty steady at 4,000 feet even as I was protected in the snow covered woods well below treeline.
- As I made my way across the range and back down I realized that I was going to be done hiking around 10:45AM.  My options were to head back to Gorham for some afternoon strength training at the gym, or walk across the street and head up Crawford Path.  It was an easy decision to make as I ditched my snowshoes, changed into my winter trail runners, and motored up towards Mount Pierce with the option of heading to Eisenhower if the current conditions of partly sunny skies with high clouds held.
- As I reached treeline I headed over to Eisenhower first, and other than seeing two older hikers who tried to scare me off about high winds, I had the ridge-line to myself.  It was a fun hike up to Eisenhower, winds out of the southeast were burying most tracks within minutes.  The final push to the summit was aided by this wind as it felt like I was drafting which made for an easy summit push.  On the way down was a different story, the winds picked up tiny ice crystals and were blasting everywhere, if I had to guess the wind speed was above 40MPH, luckily temps were hovering around freezing so it felt refreshing to battle the wind back down below the summit cone.
- Once reaching Crawford Path, I scooted back south and made the quick trip up to Mount Pierce while watching the clouds quickly move in high above in front of the sun making for an interesting shade/light scene.  After snapping a few pics I quickly made my way back down below treeline and back to the trailhead, finishing at 1:30PM.
- It was a nice way to spend the last weekend of the fall as winter officially starts next Friday afternoon!

Presidential Range as seen from an outlook near Mount Tom's summit

Looking over to West Field (I think) and Carrigain Notch

Mount Field

 Tunnel of snow along the Willey Range Trail.  I recommend hiking these peaks in snow, much more of a pleasant and beautiful experience

Presidential Range from Mount Field's downlook

Sun and clouds above the White Mountains

Pano of the Presidential Range from the Willey outlook

Crawford Notch

Mount Carrigian

Presidential Range as seen from Crawford Path at treeline

 View of Washington, Clay, and Jefferson from Mount Eisenhower's summit

Heading back south along the ridge-line between Ike and Pierce

Clouds starting to move in creating a really cool shady vibe along the Crawford Path

This was really cool to hike as the clouds tried to block out the sun

Looking back to Mount Eisenhower

 The snow drifts can be very deep through these pockets

Making my way up towards the sun and the clouds

Heading up to Mount Pierce

One last look at Eisenhower, Franklin (tough to make out), Monroe, and Washington

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