Dave/Eli Backpacking Trip – Mt. Willey

This weekend I took Eli on his first backpacking trip.  We stayed at Ethan Pond and hiked Mt. Willey.

We left around 7:30am on Saturday morning and headed over to the Ethan Pond trailhead in Crawford Notch.  Eli, as always, was super pumped for this trip.



The Ethan Pond trail is part of the Appalachian Trail.  It starts out steep immediately from the trailhead.  The temps were pretty chilly and it was very windy.  At about 2.6 miles we made it to the pond.

The Ethan Pond tent site has about 6 or 7 tent platforms and a shelter that can hold a half dozen people.  The place was totally empty besides the caretaker.  We paid our $10/each and Eli picked out our platform.  

Apparently bears frequent this place.  We were only allowed to have food at a central area, not by our tents, and had to store it in a big bear proof box.  

After setting up camp, our loads were much lighter and we headed off to hike Mt. Willey.  We had big ambitions of hiking Mt. Willey (4,255′), Mt. Field (4,331′), and Mt. Tom (4,052′), all 4000 footers.  We figured we’d at least make 2 of those 3.  

The summit of Mt. Willey was only 2.1 miles from our tent site.  The trail turned out to be super steep and wet from rain the night before.  This made for slow going and my legs were already sore from the initial hike with all our gear.  We ended up summiting around 2pm. 

Since it was already 2pm, we decided to head back down so we would have plenty of time back at the camp site to relax.  Eli got a swiss army knife, so he was very excited to use that and do some whittling.  On the way up and down Eli loved doing ‘trail maintenance’ and helping to fix some broken stream diverters (do these things have official names?)

Back at the camp site we enjoyed hot cocoa, made dinner and ate it by the water, and had some desert.  The place was partially filled with about 10 other people.

After dinner we were treated with the best surprise yet, the most amazing sunset.  

After the sun went down it started to get very cold so we headed in our tent.  It was still pretty early so we studied our map since we had nothing else to look at.  We went to bed around 9pm.

Neither of us got much sleep that night.  It was freezing cold (either 20’s or 30’s) and our bags were only rated for summer temps.  I knew this so we packed lots of extra clothes, thermals, gloves, warmers, etc.  We still couldn’t stay warm even with all this gear on.  

The next morning we got up around 7am, had lots of cocoa, coffee, and breakfast.  We packed up our camp and made the 2.6 miles back to the trailhead. 

We made pretty good time heading down and got back to the lodge around noon for some lunch.

Eli and I had a blast on this trip and we will definitely be doing another, probably once we get better sleeping bags.  🙂

4 Replies to “Dave/Eli Backpacking Trip – Mt. Willey”

  1. Bringing your kids up right Dave!!! Pro Tip: Sleeping bag rated temps are temps for which you will not die! You will not be comfortable, but you will not die. For comfort you need to subtract ~20 degrees. If temps will be in the 40s, I go with a 20 degree bag. Fleece liner is a great way to add about 10 degrees warmth to a bag. Enjoy!!!

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