Solo Mt. Avalon & Mt. Willard plus a hiking anniversary

Hey buttercups ๐Ÿ™‚

This past Saturday was another solo adventure for me, and a stellar one at that. Ok, let’s be real, all adventures are stellar on some level.

With the heat index in NH being over 100 degrees, I opted for some less aggressive mountains that I knew had water intermittently along the trail. Driving North I had a few ideas in mind and made my decision once I got to the Conway area. Mt. Avalon was the pick for the day.

Driving along 302 to get to Crawford Notch I’ve never seen so many cars parked along areas where there is access to the Saco River. Figuring everyone would be seeking rivers, lakes, oceans, and air conditioners for the day, I didn’t expect to see many people hiking. But, when I got to the Notch there were a lot of cars (not super surprising given that the Highland Center and Notch Train are right here too!), so I parked across from the Jackson trailhead and walked up the road to begin along Avalon Trail.

There is something about the start of each hike that gets me so incredibly excited. The beginning of a new adventure, being outside for hours, immersing myself in the woods, the aspect of the unknowns – it’s exhilarating.

This was the first hike on these trails when a thunderstorm/downpour didn’t occur at some point of the hike! Each time I’ve hiked Mt. Willey, Mt. Field, and Mt. Tom or some combination of these peaks (the 4000 footers behind Avalon and Willard) I’ve found myself getting drenched and questioning the safety of hiking in thunder and lightening.

The temperature in the Notch sat around 90ยฐ and humid (sauna status) all day, which is definitely prime t-storm weather so I was very glad to not be blessed with mother natures electrical storm shenanigans.

Avalon Trail

The hike up to Avalon is a quickie at 1.8 miles. Heading up I passed a few other hikers so when I got to the summit I was shocked to have it all to myself! I’ve had hikes before when me and my hiking friend for the day were the only ones on the summit, but I’ve yet to have a solo hike where I’m the only one! Being completely alone on a summit is a really interesting feeling that I can’t fully describe but I would definitely like to experience this again (and again).

YAY mountains!

On the summit, I had a quick snack/water break and proceeded onward… downward? I’m Casper the ghost status and could just feel myself burning so choosing to not stay in the direct sun for more than 10 minutes was a smart choice!

The half mile section of trail just before the Avalon summit is a full rock scramble fest, my personal fave. I caught up to a couple about a quarter mile into my descent who I had passed close to reaching the summit and hiked the remainder of the scramble section with them while entertaining some good conversation. One of my favorite things about solo hikes is the people I meet – this most certainly is the outgoing side of my outgoing introvert personality. I find that when I’m hiking with friends, I’m less likely to strike up a conversation with groups of hikers other than a quick “hi” or “happy hiking!”, but when solo it’s fun to connect.

View from Avalon

Following the scramble section I hauled it to the junction where you can either go back to the car or hike Mt. Willard. Not finding myself too hot and feeling really great I decided to also hike up Mt. Willard. At this point I turned on one of my mellow Spotify playlists and was fully jamming out by myself heading up Willard – another perk of solo hiking, solo music jam sesh’s.

One of the best parts of adding Willard onto this hike? Hands down centennial pool and being able to dip my disgustingly sweaty headband into the fresh cold flowing water and cool off! Centennial pool would also be a cool little spot to come to after bigger 4K hikes in the area to just hangout for a while and relax – mental note to self!

Fun fact: Mt. Willard was my first ever hike in the White Mountains back when I was a pre-teen! Another fun fact: Saturday marked my 3 year anniversary of starting the 4000 footers, not that I knew what I was getting myself into when I started! When I arrived home Saturday after my hike, I logged onto Facebook to add pictures from the day and got a notification that 3 years ago I had hiked Mt. Liberty & Mt. Flume with my friend Amy. That was my first 4000 hike, meaning 3 year hike anniversary (“hikeiversary” – can I low key create a new word?!).

View from Mt. Willard

It felt super fitting that I would hike on my 3 year anniversary – I mean hello, big deal celebration ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m a big fan of anniversaries, mainly because it marks another year of doing something. For this, it marks another year of hiking, opting outside, choosing adventure, immersing myself in the environment which best supports me on so many levels, and celebrating that my body can take me on these lovely hikes!

All in all the day was all that I needed it to be and I’m looking forward to many more upcoming frolics in the middle of the woods.

โ€œThe Wilderness holds answers to more questions than we have yet learned to ask.โ€ โ€• Nancy Newhall



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