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Moose on Moosilauke

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  • Moose on Moosilauke

    Deb and I drove down to Lincoln, NH after a night dans la "Cheap and Cheery" in Orford, QC. We arrived at the River Lodge trailhead and started hiking at a fairly respectable hour of 08:30. The snowspine started almost immediately and within the first kilometer we had spiked up. As we walked along we encountered copious amounts of steaming Moose dung, and shortly thereafter we heard a very large crash in the woods. Though we did not see it we assume that it was the moose of Moosilauke which must have given this mountain its name. Despite the somewhat surprising amount of snow at low elevation, we had a beautiful blue sky with warm temperatures and by the time we reached the Carriage trail, I was stripped down to a t-shirt.

    We started hiking up this gentle trail, and within a hundred meters, Deb noticed that she was missing her gloves. She scampered back down to the Snapper trail junction, but unfortunately did not find them. Since they were brand new gloves, she really wanted them back, and after a brief discussion it was decided that we would climb the mountain and then come straight back down to look for them instead of hiking the complete loop as planned. We continued on upwards and at about 3500 feet, I put on my snowshoes to make walking a little easier on the bizarre spined and snowy trail. Even though there was up to two meters of snow depth, there was still occasional stretches of bare ground which I scraped carefully across and back onto the snow to the delight of my shoes. We hit the ridge and did a quick scamper out to South Peak, which though an open summit, the weather had unfortunately fogged us in, so no views from here.

    Back down, and then we were climbing Moosilauke. At tree line the snow disappeared so we switched back to boots, and in a short little walk we arrived on top where we met three young women from Dartmouth College and exchanged photography services and some friendly banter. It turned out that they were descending our up-track, so Deb put them on a mission to find her gloves. That being taken care of, we were now free to complete our original mission after taking a short lunch while gazing out into the fog.

    Our bellies satiated, we set out down the Beaver Brook trail, where we found somewhat awful conditions of a tall snowspine and lots of postholes. Even Debbie switched to her snowshoes to try to stay on top of this mess. Several stretches of bare rock had us either changing footwear or scraping across gingerly, but for the most part we were in the snow.

    At the Asquam Ridge trail conditions improved considerably, since this path appears not to be taken very often. Mt. Jim was not very impressive with its head in the woods, and shortly after descending from the summit, we lost the trail. The woods were open and we decided to simply whack on downwards, finally picking up the trail at about 3200 feet. We had a quick break at the junction with the Al Merril Loop after which I did something stupid. I suggested we take a shortcut straight down instead of following the long switchback of the ski trail. Debbie looked at me like I was on crack, but agreed to go with this plan which started out ok, but as we approached the river, we got entangled in some very thick brush which eliminated any time we expected to save by cutting off the extra distance.

    Finally arriving at the river, we expected to pick up the trail, but it was not here! What was not shown on our map, was that the trail actually crosses the river at the apex of the switchback (which we had just brilliantly cut) and travels along the opposite side. No worries though, we consulted Deb's GPS which had a more detailed map and we saw that the trail crossed back to our side about a kilometer downstream, so we just kept on whacking. This took us nearly an hour as the rotting snow was very unsupportive and the terrain fairly rugged. We both fell into numerous holes and spruce traps, and even contemplated fording the river at one point to get out of this mess and back onto a cleared trail. The amount of water coming down the river made us choose the lesser of the two evils, continue whacking downstream until mercifully I spied a bridge that brought us back onto the trail.

    About another kilometer of rotting snowspine brought us back to the parking area and we were happy to find Deb's gloves stuck in the door handle of the car. Thanks you so much to our fellow hikers! Deb owes you three a round of beers. The seven hour hike was concluded by a drive over to Conway where we relaxed with supper and brews in the White Mountain Hostel.