Day One: 2.74 Miles & 1516 feet vert
After a Kinsman Ridge Traverse trip fell apart last minute, Gus LT and I decided to try a Tom Field Wiley Loop out of a lack of a car spot. I’m positive these peaks are rarely done as a loop which made it even more enticing; I’m starting to develop a habit of hiking weird loops.
We started out night hiking to Ethan Pond at 10:30 PM Friday after a shot or two of Jack in the parking lot. Mistake #1… The short hike in was more difficult than expected due to deep leaves, lots of wet trail, and our friend Jack slowing us down.
When we finally got to the pond it was eerily quiet and beautiful with the moonlight lighting up the area. We checked the place out, realized it was totally empty, and set up at site #5 before heading to the ponds edge to drink huge cans of Fosters and smoke cigars. At around 3am we realized it was 3 hours past a reasonable bed time and we hung a bear bag and turned in; aiming to be on the trail at 9am for a 14 mile day. HA!
Day Two: 13.83 Miles & 3620 Vert
We typically overslept til 9am and ate breakfast in the morning sun on the rocky shore of Ethan Pond. Ethan Pond is a beautiful serene place with westward views of Mt.Bond, Zeacliff, and South Twin as well as Wiley and some cliffs if you look north-east from the south side.
With an 11am start time we set out for Mt.Wiley. Somewhere on the Wiley Range Trail we realized that this climb was about 1700 feet of vert in 1.1 miles which is a absolutely terrible thing to realize the morning after drinking til 3am… The connected ladders were quite the engineering marvel however and the temps were in the mid 60s and would stay warm even after sunset.
The peak has an outlook facing the Southern Presidentials and Webster Cliffs where we had lunch and played with the Grey Jays and snapped pics. I gave them a few pumpkin seeds which they cached in a tree somewhere for winter. If you hold out an empty hand however, they will perch longer than they do if you actually feed them. The treed in Wiley summit has another viewpoint off the southwest side which was a bonus. The ridge hike to Field was nice and there were some northern Presi views there, but Washington’s summit was socked in clouds all day. More Grey Jays here as well playing with a family.
The trail down to the Mt.Tom spur trail was a blast and the trail up Tom was great as well. Decent views to the West if you hike past the summit cairn. This marked my 24th peak and halfway point to completing the 48. We could see Zealand Hut as well as Zealand Falls from here, our next destination.
The A-Z Trail seemed endless and the sun left us here for mostly the rest of the day. We finally stumbled onto the hut porch and had lunch #2; bread, tuna, and smoked gouda cheese, checked out the falls, and hauled ass back onto the Ethan Pond Trail.
With the clouds rolling in and the sun fading, we started making some serious speed back to camp stopping for a few pics in Zealand Notch. This is a unique and beautiful place and definitely a must see; I’ve never seen anything remotely comparable before. Skipping Thoreau Falls, we donned headlamps and wearily trudged onward to base camp. The Ethan Pond Trail runs along an impressive little river which is the runoff from the pond itself and the numerous bog bridges make this a primo walk. We finally grinded out the last 4.8 miles in 1 hour and 45 minutes versus “Book time” of 2 hours 44 minutes.
Rolling up in a once again empty camp, we cooked in the shelter and had a small fire and celebrated a great day with some Crystal Light lemonade whiskey sours. A 9:30 bedtime evened out the previous nights revelry and we got a solid 11 hours of sleep.
Day Three: 3.34 & 400 feet
Woke up to a chilly morning and immediately made breakfast and packed up. The sun came out before we left and we made the quick jaunt to Ripley Falls; a 100 foot waterfall. Back to the car at 12:00, we set off for food and fresh Tuckerman’s Pale Ales at Delaney’s. Another solid trip with some fantastic weather and back home before Hurricane Sandy blew into town.
Total: 19.91 Miles with 5543 feet vert
Things I Did Right:
– Hiking in the dark on Friday was fun and a great way to spread out the mileage and vert.
– Skipped Thoreau Falls, not enough time and have a reason to go back to Ethan Pond someday.
Things I Did Wrong:
– Shots of Jack before we started hiking…
– Should have changed my failing headlamp batteries before we started hiking.
Total Peaks Bagged: 3 this trip. #22, 23 & 24.
Total Miles: ~20.0
Total Elevation Gain: 5543 feet
Total 4ks: 24/48
Total Backpacked: 20/48
– Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15 Down Sleeping Bag: Love this bag so far. Used with my liner, didn’t need the hood or a hat, even with some chilly temps but it only got down to low 40s.
– Sea to Summit Event Compression sack – Does what its supposed to.