Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Moriah - May 25, 2014

Route: Stony Brook Trail, Carter-Moriah Trail
Peaks: Moriah (4049', NH4K)
Mileage: 10.2mi
Elevation Gain: 3450ft
Book Time: 6hr 50min (actual 7hr including a long stop on top)

For Sunday on Memorial Day Weekend, the weather ended up being the best of the weekend. The skies began clearing from the day before, and there was only a small chance of rain in the forecast. A perfect day for a hike I led up Moriah for the Northeast Peakbaggers Meetup. I set this one up to ascend via the Stony Brook and Carter-Moriah Trails, as I remembered from my trip over the range in 2002 that the ledges heading up Moriah on this side had spectacular views. When I hiked this route in winter a couple years ago, I was socked in all day and got no views :(

Our merry group of 6 met up and began the hike under clearing skies. Shortly into the trail we made a goof and crossed the brook too early at an unclear spot, but after spending a few minutes figuring this out, we crossed back onto the proper trail and continued up. The real stream crossing was made, and the trail was still gentle in grade. On this side of the stream a logging road (the trail follows it) continues up to the base of the ridge, where the real climbing began.

Painted Trillium

A lesser stream crossing during the climb
Steadily we worked through the climb, and we also unofficially added a mother and her 7-year old son to our group, as we kept leap-frogging with them. They were great company on top of our group's great company, and we all made it to the ridge in good spirits. The 7-year old, Matthew, is about halfway through his 4000-footer list and was loving every moment on the trail it seemed. Awesome!

A rather slippery-looking ledge just above a small stream crossing - looks like the trail at one time actually crossed on this ledge but has been re-routed to under it where the footing is much better.

Now we began hitting the ledges, and on this day with largely sunny skies, the views were just as awesome as I remembered! Personally I much prefer this approach to Moriah, I think the views along this 1.5 mile stretch far exceed those on the Northern approach from Gorham. We lounged on the ledges, enjoyed the sun, and eventually continued on to the summit. There are a few minor PUDs in here that I apparently forgot about, and we even found a few small icy patches along with a ton of mud, but right about on book time we made the summit, which has some nice views of its own.

Early views

The Baldface Range in the distance

Summit ridge crags

Climbing the ledges

The Carter Range heading South, with the Presis in the clouds behind

Peakbaggers on a Ledge!

A mildly tricky icy spot - really the only one that took some effort to handle
We took a nice break on the summit, during which time a few folks came and went. The views from here to Shelburne Moriah over the trees are awesome, and you can also see the bulk of the Mahoosuc Range laid out in front of you, along with the Carter and Presidential Ranges. Really, Moriah is an under-rated mountain in my opinion.

Shelburne Moriah

Part of the Mahoosuc Range just to the North

Carters and Presis (the latter still largely in the clouds)

Northern Presis trying to shake the clouds

An interesting and large slide on the side of Carter Dome - looks somewhat fresh too

Old Speck, a 4000-footer just over the border into Maine
After a nice break, we tore ourselves away and headed down, while Matthew and his mom lingered a while longer. We later heard they made it down just fine too, and are now off to gather more checkmarks! The descent along the ledges was as much fun as the ascent, though on a few of the damp ledges in the woods we had to take some care not to slip. Once off the ridge and heading down, we just hiked, not stopping too much since the black flies had decided to come out for the afternoon and found us whenever we did stop. In good time we were back at the car, and then off to an early dinner in Gorham! It's always a great hike with the Peakbaggers, and this one was no exception. Thanks for the company, all of you!

People on the summit as we descend

A cool-looking ledgy shoulder of Moriah, far from any trail, with the Wild River Wilderness below it

Purple Trillium

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