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 Avalon a winner half day trip 
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Flatfoot
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Joined: Sun Aug 27, 2006 6:03 am
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 Avalon a winner half day trip
My family (two out-of-shape 40 somethings, two boys 10 and 13 and two dogs) tackled Avalon on Friday. This was a very rewarding hike and well worth the effort.

The weather was looking iffy, with lots of clouds around the peaks and the apparent threat of rain. A staffer at the Crawford House told me that rain was not in the forecast, so we gave it a go. I was watching the sky the whole way, though, just in case we needed to get out fast. Turned out not to be a problem.

The trailhead was hard to find. It is directly behind the Crawford Depot, but set back across some railroad tracks and lots of high grass and scrub. If I had not seen two other hikers walking over there, I might never have found it.

The first mile or so is rather gradual and not too rocky. There are a couple of stream crossings and there were several muddy spots. A short way up you pass the bypass loop for Beechers and Pearl Cascades. Well worth the trip, but we saved that for our return. Those new to hiking would appreciate these two falls as very easy destinations. Pearl has a pool at the base of the falls that would have been very inviting if it had been warmer. Anyone been swimming there?

About a mile or so into the hike, the trail slopes up much more steeply, just before the A-Z trail leading to Zealand, etc. From that point, you are only a half mile from the summit, but it is a pretty steep climb up big rocks with little relief. Hiking boots are strongly recommended. My kids wore running shoes and they wished they had on boots. This is not quite hand and foot climbing, but nearly so.

My wife who is normally very sporting suffered a bit of vertigo at one location a short way up where the trail took a slight notch to the left, leaving the impression you were on the side of a cliff. She opted to climb back down to more level ground with the dogs and wait for us to round trip to the summit.

At about 1/10 mile to go, the trail levels out quite a bit and is much more enjoyable. You then reach a sign that indicates the summit is 100 yards and you think "piece of cake." Well, not so fast. There is still more steep climbing. There are a few very large boulders to navigate with very few foot holds. Not too bad, but something to be aware of. These are great viewing points, though.

At the top of these steeps, where the trail levels, it is very heavily overgrown and the blazes all but disappear. A rocky summit is not the place to be careless exploring, so I pressed ahead cautiously, not completely certain if we were on the trail. However, after pushing aside the dense branches of the scrub, in a moment we emerged on a flat rock with a clear view of the notch. Another bushwack brings you to the summit proper and you have a fantastic view through the notch and across to the Southern Presidentials, including Washington, which was visibile. (Note to trail crews -- please refresh the blazes, especially at the top, and cut back a few of the branches. Two hikers we met on the way up told us that they gave up just before the summit not seeing a clear trail or blazes.)

The summit viewing area is small, but more than adequate. We were alone up there, but there room enough for a small group to find places to sit and enjoy lunch or just rest. We had to hustle and take some pictures before returning so as not to leave my wife waiting too long. (Thankfully, I had the foresight to bring our Motorola FRS radios, so we were able to keep her updated with our progress and she wasn't too lonely.) There is no freightening drop off as you have at the top of Willard or Pemi.

The descent wasn't too bad, considering how steep and rocky it was. Plenty of "steps" to get down. I had just purchased hiking poles, and they were a huge help. I highly recommend them. The day before we hiked to Lonesome Lake and the return trip was tough on my knees, prompting me to make this worthwhile purchase.

The trip took us about 4 hours, but that included dealing with our dogs, retracing a bit to help out my wife, etc. Someone in good shape with few stops could easily make the round trip in 3 hours or so.

Note for dog owners -- we have two dogs adopted from shelters. They are both mid-size lab, shepherd, and who knows what else, mixes. The younger is an 8 month old puppy and the older almost 8 years and he is beginning to show his age. Both dogs are reasonably agile and love hiking. However, the younger dog was slipping, sliding and having a tough time clamboring over the bigger rocks in the steeps. The older dog was better at it, but given his tendency to get very stiff after exercise, it was better that he stayed below with my wife. I don't know how we would have managed to get them up (and worse, down) the bigger boulders.


Sun Aug 27, 2006 7:12 am
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Joined: Sun May 08, 2005 10:20 am
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Location: Lancaster, NH Avatar: On the trail again
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Welcome remy! Great family hike and it's very nice to read your t.p.

Quote:
Pearl has a pool at the base of the falls that would have been very inviting if it had been warmer. Anyone been swimming there?
I love all waterfalls. Swim there? Wow. Too cold for me! Kids usually like it on hot days with glee!

I found it interesting that you hiked w/2 dogs who had trouble on the A-Z trail. I've a 62 pound chocolate lab mix, that started to go on big hikes with me since she was 2 months old. 'Ghostdog' just turned 6 years old on July 3. She has been a member of the AMC's '4000'er Club of the White Mountains' for 2 years, having summited all of the 48 4k's and many more mtns and trails, including the North Slide Trail and the Mahoosuc Notch, the toughest mile on the AT.

Brutus, an English Newfie, at almost 200 pounds, is a most famous hiking dog having completed the 48 also. And summiting them all in just one winter! Like hikers, dogs gain experience a little more on each hike.

I'm sure your family and dogs will have a wonderful group hike together. We look forward to reading more of your great trip reports!

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Sun Aug 27, 2006 8:15 am
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Flatfoot
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My older dog, Remy, is starting to show signs of arthritis, especially in his hind legs. We are going to visit a holistic vet this week to see if we can't find some combo of herbal and analgesics that will help him. He loves hiking and climbing, but after we get home, he can hardly move.

Cooper is the puppy. He can scramble up and down everything, but he's a total klutz. He'll find the most difficult way to get up a rock and slip and slide like crazy. He wiped out several times as we began our ascent of the steeps on Avalon, making us both rather nervous that he could get hurt. So we decided he would keep the wife company with Remy while the kids and I hit the summit.

I expect with more practice, experience and conditioning, both dogs will be very capable on most anything.

MSK


Sun Aug 27, 2006 10:49 am
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Hey Remydog,

Great trip report!

I've hiked with Magic and Ghost Dog on many many adventures and can tell you that dogs just have another sense about them when it comes to hiking. Not only do they find a way to get up or down, but at least in Ghost Dogs case, they can follow the scent of humans and therefore follow the trails with ease. I've yet to see that dog get lost!

Keep working with them and it won't be long before they surprise you with their knowledge....but try to stick to the flatter trails if you're bringing Remy.

Good luck!
Bill

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Mon Aug 28, 2006 11:00 am
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Flatfoot
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 Re: Avalon a winner half day trip
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Mon Jul 27, 2020 11:11 am
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