White Mountain Backpacking Trip
Friday, August 22 -
For our August backpacking trip, Troop 54 made our first trip to White Mountain National Forest. This trip added to what seems to be a trend of extra adventure in our August trips. In 2011, we had planned to go to this forest but had to head west instead because a hurricane was coming. In 2010, our planned tral had been reclaimed by nature, forcing us to bushwhack for the better part of a day.
Our planned trail was our most aggressive yet, in terms of elevation change. We hiked a loop, starting at the Willey House Station Road parking area in Crawford Notch State Park, just off Route 302. A few delays in the morning pushed our start on the trail to 12:30 PM. After a short stretch of the Ethan Pond Trail / Appalachian Trail, we hit the Willey Ridge Trail, which was increasingly steep as we approached Mount Willey. The trail consisted of large, oddly-shaped rocks (mostly granite), often making for 1-2 foot steps, always up. As we neared the top of Mount Willey, the trail became a series of “ladders”, which looked like long stairs without handrails. The steep trail slowed our progress for the day to an average of about 0.5 mile per hour.
We made it to the top of Mount Willey during daylight but it was so foggy that after the nearest trees, all we saw was white from the scenic overlook. There was, of course, no water at the top, so we pressed on, hiking over our second 4000 foot peak, Mount Field in the dark.
We finally got to a small stream at 11:30 PM but found the forest impassable with small trees, fallen branches and rough terrain. Still, we cobbled together a somewhat makeship camp, getting to sleep at about 1:00 AM, not bothering to cook our first night's dinner.
Three Scouts and three leaders participated in this trip.
The second day was much less eventful. We passed Shoal Pond, our planned camping location, and continued on to Ethan Pond, in order to shorten our third day's hike. Ethan Pond had an AMC-managed camp site with tent platforms, latrine and cooking area.
See our actual trail (GPS data recorded by ASM Keith MacNeal):
This was the troop's sixty-eighth consecutive month with at least one overnight camping trip.
Narrative originally posted on Trimble Outdoors by Keith MacNeal:
Rugged trail with a signficant ascent on Day 1 up the South side of Mt. Willey. AMC White Moutains Trail Guide has detailed information on the area. Very popular spot judging by the number of hikers we encountered, some of who were on their way to Katahdin to complete their Appalachian Trail trek.
Trail is well maintained. Blazes are not very frequent, but it is clear which way the trail goes. Camping is allowed in the Wilderness Area of the National Forest. Group size needs to be 10 or less and camp must be set up at least 200 feet off the trail and 200 ft. from a water source. The Ethan Pond Campsite & Shelter has a caretaker. Group reservations (>5) can be made through the AMC. Others are first come, first served. An $8 fee is collected per camper, per night.
Page updated 10/7/19