Moosilauke with Surprise Pals
Take two saved the day
After a failed attempt to summit Mt. Washington and Monroe (see post here), we set out again to try to summit a much less exposed (and much closer to home) 4000 footer – Mt. Moosilauke (4,802 ft). This was the first mountain I had ever winter hiked (one of our first dates, in fact), and I was excited to revisit it.
We set out around 1:30pm and agreed to ramp up the pace to make it back to the car before dark, though we had our headlamps just in case. On tired legs, we started up Glencliff trail. The first little bit (0.3mi) is basically flat through fields where most of the snow is melted. At the trail split where Hurricane Mountain Trail goes off to the right, we shed most of our layers and proceeded up the steeper part, sweating on the low 30 degree late afternoon wind-sheltered trail.
The trail climbs steadily through the beautiful snow-covered forest until around mile 3 where it meets the Carriage road and the spur trail to South Peak comes in. Throughout this section, we kept losing Rye as she bound ahead, frustrating us after a pretty great-behavior day thus far. We found out why when we made it up to the junction with Carriage road – she had been running up to meet our friends Caitlin, Jodeob, and Caitlin’s dog (and Rye’s coworker at Ibex), Vaida. Surprisingly, this was the first time we have ever met people we know out on the trail, but it was a great surprise and we were able to hike together the last ~1 mile to the summit.
The last mile on Carriage Road to the summit of Moosilauke is what makes Moosilauke such a great “bang-for-your-buck” (Cody’s phrase) hike because there’s this gorgeous “hallway” of trees which looks extra beautiful in the winter, and then there’s a bit of Alpine zone leading up to the summit that makes a pretty short hike feel very epic, especially on days like today when it’s shrouded in clouds, rocks covered in ice feathers. Out of the trees the temperature felt like it dropped over 10 degrees with the still-brutal winds. We all agreed we preferred this type of day to a “boring” blue bird day anyway. We took some summit photos and then ran down the trail the whole way down.
We made it back to the trailhead before dark and parted ways to finally get some food after two pretty solid hikes in one day. I enjoyed noting the differences in my hiking ability over the last two years. When I first hiked Glencliff Trail up to Mt Moosilauke in 2015, it took 4.5 hours, and today it took only 3.5.