Thursday, May 22, 2014

Moosilauke on Patriot's Day - April 21, 2014

Route: Beaver Brook Trail, Benton Trail, Bushwhack
Peaks: Moosilauke (4802', NH4K), Blue (4529', TW72)
Mileage: 8 miles
Elevation Gain: 3250ft
Book Time: 6hr 30min

After a good day solo on the Tripyramids and a terrific traverse of the Southern Presidentials, there was one more hike on the agenda for this long weekend (I had Patriot's Day off). Patrick was actually going to come for a hike at long last, and Denise and Chris came up to join us for the day as well. The weather was looking nice (though not quite as perfect as the day before), and we were off to take the steepest trail up Mount Moosilauke, the Beaver Brook Trail (another redline!)

We met at the trailhead, which we had all to ourselves, and after introductions were made conversation turned to footwear for the hike. Having seen a trail conditions entry for the day before from a reliable source who reported light traction being fine, we made the decision to leave the snowshoes in the car. After carrying them around for 2 days, I was more than happy to leave them.

As soon as we entered the woods and crossed the first couple of minor stream crossings (a couple have wooden bridges) the snow started. We quickly put the spikes on, knowing that the steeps were about to start. The trail lived up to its billing of being steep, steep, and steep for the next mile or so. Still, the trail passed along a stream with some terrific cascades, which offered ample photo opportunities (aka rest breaks, especially for Theresa and I as we were beat from the day before). The going was tough in places with a fair bit of snow/ice hanging around, but it wasn't too bad overall and we made it up the steeps just fine.

Early sign on Beaver Brook Trail - they aren't kidding either!

Chris checks out one of the partially-frozen cascades

A peek at Franconia Ridge behind part of the lower Kinsman range

Looks like a nice little water tub for the warmer season
 A little ways above the last cascade the trail begins to moderate some, then hits the spur trail to the Beaver Brook Shelter. We took a snack break at the shelter which offers a nice, if restricted, view towards Franconia Ridge. A little while later we continued up, and the trail quickly eased way up, and we hit the junction with the Asquam Ridge Trail. We had discussed going to Mount Jim on this trip, which is a half-mile or so out on that trail, but it was un-broken, and since we didn't have snowshoes with us we opted to leave it for another time. Instead we continued on to the main summit, hitting a few obnoxious sections of skinny, but high monorail, common for this time of the year. At least the rail was mostly solid still, and we were fine in our spikes, though the top layer was definitely soft in the bright sun!


Summit ahead

Again the summit, a little closer now

Views from the top - Franconia Ridge in the back, with the Kinsman Range in front of it, a sub-ridge of Moosilauke in front of that.

Kinsmans/Franconia Ridge

Looking towards South Peak

Denise, Theresa, and Patrick on Moosilauke - but where's the sign???

There's usually an awesome orange summit sign here. What the?

Just to prove this is the summit...

Looking out towards Lincoln

Mount Washington behind the Bonds and Franconia Ridge - hey, we were up there yesterday!


Looking Westish

There was hardly any wind up top, a rarity for this summit. The views were great, and we were the only ones up there at first (a couple other folks would come up later, but it was a quiet day up there). The only other unusual thing was the summit sign was gone! Moosilauke itself is owned by Dartmouth College, and the college maintains the trails on the mountain. They put up a lot of fun, and usually orange, signs, and the Moosilauke one is iconic. Unfortunately, it appears someone has targeted the mountain for vandalism (why....), and has taken several of the signs and even knocked down a bunch of the cairns used for navigation (according to numerous trip reports). It's a shame that some people feel it necessary to do this.

Anyway, we hung out on the top and enjoyed the views and great weather (it was pretty warm this day too) for a while. Eventually, we began to head down. When we approached the approximate location of the herd path to Mount Blue, we decided to give it a go. The snow off-trail was just supportive enough that we made it to the top (about 1/4 mile from the trail) without postholing too much (except for poor Patrick who found seemingly every minor spruce trap along the way). This peak is on the Trailwright's 72 list, a list that Theresa is working on and I am sort of working on.

After a short stop there, we returned to the trail and had an interesting descent down the steep part of the trail. With the soft layer of snow on top of hard, and even icy snow, we had to take care on this steep stretch, but only one spot, the lowermost section along the cascades where there is rebar mounted in the rocks to assist hikers, was terribly tricky. One at a time we made our way down this, assisting each other as needed. A short walk from there, and we were back at the cars in the early afternoon, ready for a bite in town and a drive back to our respective homes!

It was a great hike with great people, lots of laughing, and simply put good times. It was great to see everyone again!

Descending a particularly tricky section (even though it doesn't look it here)

No comments:

Post a Comment