2005-11-06 MT Willey NH 4K


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  1. #1

    2005-11-06 MT Willey NH 4K

    2005-11-05 thru 2005-11-06 Mt. Willey and Eathon Pond

    We started this trip Saturday morning, a bit late. Daylite savings has already turned the clocks back, and we made a dump run before venturing out in the morning. This would come to haunt us later on.

    We arrived at the access road to the At, leading to Eathon Pond, and immediately recognized this as the place that we saw car windows smashed out earlier in the year. In spite of that, we were prepared to hike this hike, had maps and itinerary all set, and decided that since it was later in the year, the vandals are generally fair weather types... well, we were doing it! We hit the trail at 10:30. The first portion of the hike just about killed us. We have not had much opportunity to hike over the past two years and are just getting back into shape. Iíll allow that we didnít do too badly. We passed three groups on the way up, including a boy scout troop. Watching the time and the mileage, I was surprised that we matched what we hoped to be able to attain after several more hikes.

    At almost 12:30, we arrive at Eathon pond. What a sight this place is. A very pretty pond, with rocks protruding at the shore line. We get the lay of the land here, but are unable to locate the bear boxes. So we hang the food, since to poster warns of bears. With Suzy along, I doubt weíll ever see a bear, but we hang the food anyways. There are some 5 tent platforms, 2 for large groups, and the caretakers platform, now vacant, along with the shelter that could sleep 10 or 12. We take platform 5, farthest in, since from there we can see some of the pond. We set up camp, eat, break out the daypacks and pump some water.

    At 1:40, we head up Mt. Willey. We thought we tackled some steep stuff earlier. That was nothing. We remember reading about rungs..... We also remember that dark comes around 5 PM these days. So the clock is watched as we summit this mountain. There were times of doubt, that we would have enough daylite and energy. We come the very steepest part, where fairly new ladder ways have been constructed. There is a couple coming down, and I ask,ĒDare I ask you, how much more to the top?Ē Our spirits sank when he said about a half hour. Itís already 3:15 and we are considering the return trip also. We continue on, and ascend the ladderways, and make our way, finally to the top, after many false peaks. This mountain just seemed to go on and on.

    We enjoyed the view of Washington, and took a look over the rear side at Eathon Pond. Then back to view Washington and eat some cheese and crackers. It is now 3:40 and we realize that we need to go down. Looks like itíll be after 5:30 when we get back, dark. We have our headlamps, thinking this would happen. Fortunately, we get down Willey and back to the AT trail juncture which leads back to Eathon Pond, 1 mile away, before we need to break out the headlamps. Fairly level terrain, with plenty of log bridges to walk on.

    At this point, my wifeís gas tank has emptied, we have both fallen hard twice (me to start out the hike, and she just recently) This makes her a bit overly cautious, if there is such a thing, and with no gas left in the tank.... well it took a while to get back. At the log bridges, I would stomp my feet as I stepped up, as even with a headlamp, a wet log bridge is both slippery and difficult to see. Then I would walk 8 feet to the end of each log bridge, and wait til I heard her on the log bridge. Then I would step down, so she would know where the log bridge ended. Let me tell you, every one of those log bridges was exactly 8 feet long, save one that was 6 feet long. If ever you need anyone to pace off 8 feet, I am the man. I must have paced off 200 eight foot bridges, to guide my wife over them. She was very apologetic, and I explained that this is not the first time I have assisted some one off the mountain, and I can well remember a time when my gas tank emptied out. Finally, after 6PM, we get back to camp.

    We change out of our sweaty clothes, and bundle up. We grab our waterproof stuff sacks for sitting on the platform, as the dew had fallen. Tonightís meal is to consist of the best teryaki noodles you have ever had, followed by some of the heartiest macaroni and cheese ever created by Kraft. Suzy had 2 bowls of dog food, and curled up under a fir tree after we hung the food up. I stuffed some crunch bars and Reeseís Peanut butter cups in my pocket for later. Dinner is done and cleaned up, itís 7:21, and I am ready to sleep. Thatís it, no more star gazing on this clear night. I am out for 5 hours solid, nice and cozy in our zero degree bags. Then I canít go back to sleep for 4 more hours...... Go figure...

    In the morning, we donít get out of the tent til 8 AM, and everyone else is gone or leaving. Finally, I see the bear boxes out behind the out house. A kid had told me yesterday that he found the bear boxes, right behind the out house. I asked if he had opened those boxes, thinking they were the compost bins from the out house.... Well, right behind the out house is the compost bins, then farther out behind were the bear boxes....Sigh....

    As we are breaking camp, it starts to drip heavily from the trees, so we pack up fast, and head out. We are to pass two groups that left before us, on the way down. Even after the physical nature of yesterdays hike, we are happy with our speed and stability on the trail. We are so out of hiking shape, yet our egos get quite the boost passing all the other groups. At the parking lot, there is no vandalism (Yeehaw!!!) And Troop 153 from Mass is down there chowing down and packing the cars. They were at the camp last night, and spent some time cleaning some of the blowdowns and basically doing good!!! Kudos to them! They were quiet, respectful, and friendly. They all took a turn petting Suzy, who normally doesnít like kids petting her too much. Shortly we put her in the car. I complimented them on their cleanup work and took their picture on the tailgates.

    While this trip was physically taxing, it was way better than a day of work, refreshing and invigorating. The next mountain will likely be a tad easier than this one. But for now, this is number two of the 48 - 4000 footers for us. The view from the top was as good as advertised, and it was so nice to camp out.
    lovin life,


  2. #2
    Great report, I've been up Willey twice & both times viewless, I want to get there again when th visibility is more than 100 feet.
    Happy Trails, be safe & Good Luck
    Mike P.

  3. #3
    I enjoyed reading your report. Did you hike the 5th & 6th or the 6th & 7th. I was hiking with friends on Mt Waumbek 11/5. That day was beautiful Temp. in N. Conway was 67 deg.

    I also hiked Mt Willey Sept 17th but only hiked over from Mt Field to Mt Willey then down to Ethan pond trail back to Rt 302. See Trip report date Sept 23rd. It is very steep coming down from Willey. I can only imagine having to hike up then down this part. That day there was no view from Willey either. As stated in my report.


  4. #4
    Sounds as though we got lucky with the view. Originally, we had planned to do Field and Tom also, but if we didn't, we didn't. We'd do Tom and Field on another day. With the time constraints, that's what worked out.

    Personally, I'd much rather hike up a steep trail, than down it. In this case, we got to do it both ways.

    We actually hiked up the mountain on the 5th. The pond was a very nice sight, and for some reason, I don't get a picture on Saturday, while it is sunny. Phooey, I got a foggy one on Sunday just as the rain chases us.

    If we had arranged for a ride, or managed to hitch hike like you did, we'd a done all three, but I'm not so crazy about the idea of a full pack coming down Willey.

    Nice place to hike.
    lovin life,


  5. #5
    I also prefer up steep to down steep when it's slick, not much difference in summer. Prefer only descending trails I'm familar with in winter, either by going up them earlier in the day or previously in the past couple of years.

    Last I went up Willey & past Ethan Pond while summits were viewless weather broke as I came through Zealand Notch so got some views from Zealand Notch floor & over pond at a changing sky.
    Happy Trails, be safe & Good Luck
    Mike P.

  6. #6
    Great trip report and congratulations on number two. Ethan Pond is a great area.

    I'm glad Skeetah Bait waited until after they replaced the ladders to do that one

  7. #7
    Pepsi, good to hear from you! I agree, it's a good thing they already replaced the ladderways. This weekend, it looks like we'll do #3 and #4. We'll camp on the Kanc at Big Rock or Hancock, then tackle the Osceolas.
    lovin life,


  8. #8
    Skier75's Avatar
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    Feb 2004
    Barrington, New Hampshire
    Quote Originally Posted by pepsi
    I'm glad Skeetah Bait waited until after they replaced the ladders to do that one
    What??? Replace the ladders....what'da mean? You mean there weren't any ladders there before??? Phew! LOL JK I can't imagine what they were like before! I can betcha ten to one, I would've never touched those with a ten foot pole if they looked any worse than they did! Like I said, I either must be getting more brave or just insane!


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