“Spring” on Moosilauke
It's still winter in the Whites.
TrailheadHigh St (aka Sanatorium Rd.)
TrailsGlencliff Trail (AT), Moosilauke Carriage Road (AT)
Total Distance7.6 miles, 3,396ft elevation gain
TimeStart: 8:56am, 3:35 Round Trip
WeatherLow 30s temps, overcast but clouds above the mountain (high visibility). Super windy above treeline.
Trail ConditionsIcy trail lower, packed snow with some postholes higher, frozen slush above treeline.
Partners in CrimeCody, Rye
The forecast for the weekend was a foot of snow and sleet and other non-springtime terrible, but we wanted some mountain time, so we chose our closest 4000 footer, Mt. Moosilauke, and our usual route and set out. In hindsight, we could have done a bigger day as the storm still hasn’t come a day later, but I’m glad we chose a hike that kept us below treeline for the most part because it sure was frigid up at the top.
Signs of spring were apparent at the start of Glencliff trail – little shoots of grass and only occasional spots of slippery ice and snow remained. But as we ascended through the shaded forest, winter re-appeared and we put our spikes on for the rest of the hike. The trail was totally packed down and easy to hike footing-wise (it was still steep) in just spikes without gaiters.
We had quite the sight when we got to the “tunnel of trees” (the section on the Carriage Rd between the South Peak spur and Moosilauke’s alpine zone). Though there were dense clouds above us, it was clear where we were, and the clouds moving in were making some interesting formations.
When we got above treeline, the wind we heard howling in the forest hit us head-on, and we were glad we didn’t plan a more exposed hike after all. It was a bitingly painful trod to the summit, made up for by the extreme beauty of Moosilauke on a clear, but inclement weather day. We tagged the summit, took some quick photos, then set out numb-legged on the trail of cairns down to the shelter of the trees.
We passed a handful of groups heading up on our way down, but we made it back to the car pretty quickly as we bounded down the trail. I made mental note to plan a visit to Moosilauke on a wind-less and warm day sometime.
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