View Full Version : A Garden Stroll on Butterfly Ridge: Moosilauke on the 4th of July!

Kevin, Judy and Emma
07-05-2011, 02:47 PM
View North from South Peak

South Peak 4523' /Moosilauke 4802'

Glencliff Trail/South Peak Spur/Carriage Road

8.2 Miles 3500' Elevation gain

Kevin, Judy and Emma

As is typical of the 4th of July, and July in general, it was a hot one! At the start I was damp and by the time we reached the shade of the trees I was soaked in sweat. Good! sweat out those toxins and impurities! It had rained the night before and under the canopy of the trees it was steamy like a jungle. The many brook crossings along the Glencliff Trail provided enough water for Emma to cool off until we passed the last one and began the steep hike up to the Carriage Road. The humidity made the usually delightful Glencliff seem like a death-march, but we soon reached the junction where it meets the Carriage Road and the spur trail to South Peak.

Trip Leader

We made the short hike up to South Peak where we were thankful for the cooling breeze and the moments the sun ducked behind the clouds. We had the summit to ourselves as we had our lunch. The clouds surrounding us were glorious, and about our feet it was hard to find a spot to walk or sit where there weren't beautiful patches of Mountain Sandwort at peak bloom. As we made our way down from South Peak along the trail lined with Bunchberry, Starflower and Three-toothed Cinquefoil, we watched the beautiful cumulus clouds billowing above the summit of Moosilauke a mile to our north.
Mountain Sandwort (Minuartia groenlandica)

As we made our way along the Carriage Road there was yet more beauty to behold. I think I shall always remember this section of the hike as "Butterfly Ridge". All around us we saw White Admirals and Eastern Tiger Swallowtails as they fluttered from one flower to the next. I noticed they had a particular taste for the Clintonia which grew along the trail. Every now and then we would catch a glimpse of two male Crossbills as they flit and darted through the spruce. I believe papa was showing new son what was good to eat. All the time the clouds continued to put on their show.

Silver-bordered Fritillary Boloria selene

Canadian Tiger Swallowtail Papilio canadensis on Clintonia Clintonia borealis

White Admiral Limenitis arthemis arthemis

As we continued up to the main summit I was again reminded of what a truly beautiful and unique place Moosilauke is. At 4800' it seems a barren and windblown spot, facing the full brunt of what the wind and weather from the west can throw at it. Yet, all around it is teeming with life. From the grassy sedges, to the constantly wind-whipped wildflowers, to the lichen and mosses, to the Mountain Cranberry, it is a veritable garden. More like a windblown meadow than a rocky outcrop.

Catching the Breeze!

We had second lunch here among the stones as we tried to find some shade for Emma. She was a good sport about it, but the overhead sun offered little shade and the only relief was when the clouds managed to provide some overcast. We did not stay as long as we would have wished because it was just not fair to Emma. I can't imagine what hiking in a fur coat on a day like this would be like. Emma was sad that her new hiking buddies, Linda and Blue weren't along. Blue wasn't feeling well and she hoped he felt better soon. We needed to get her back down in the shade, and then on to a brook where she could cool off. So we began our decent back along "Butterfly Ridge" and back down into the relative coolness of the shaded woods.

On the Summit

As we made the descent our heads were still full of the glorious day and overall beauty of the place we had just visited. It made us thankful for the independence that people who came long before us wrote into law for our benefit, and it made us thankful to be fortunate enough to be born in a country where this is a reality and not a dream. It also made us thankful that others wrote into law that such places as this be protected so that one day future generations might enjoy the same things that led our predecessors to preserve them, and again we were thankful to be born into a place where this was a reality and not just a dream.

Billowing Clouds to Our North

As we descended, the temperature rose. The cooling breeze at the summit was replaced with the oppressive heat and humidity of the valley. We stopped at each brook along the way so Emma could cool down, but there was little water to do much but splash our faces as we went along. When we reached the car and peeled off hiking boots and socks we piled in and headed to the nearest spot along the Baker River where we all immersed ourselves in the cooling waters, and that's how we spent our Fourth of July!

Wish This Was a Torrent Instead of a Trickle!

Full set of pictures HERE: (http://ghostflowers.smugmug.com/White-Mountain-Hikes/Mount-Moosilauke-7411/17885035_MwNCb6#1368261404_LsBqL6J)


07-06-2011, 07:15 AM
Very nice photos Kevin and great report. It's great that you were able to capture shots of three different kinds of butterflies in one outing. I think I've only seen one type in a day. They always seem to follow us on down the trail to our destination. Looks like it was a great day up there, minus the heat. But as you said, at least you got some relief from the westward wind. I've never visited the South Peak and I'm kicking myself for passing it up last year when I hiked up Moosilauke. I'll have to return so that I can check it out and hopefully, I can go around the same time of year to see the blooming Mountain Sandwort.

Thanks for sharing!

07-07-2011, 11:40 AM
Amazing photos Kevin.

Jimmy Legs and Little D
07-07-2011, 01:50 PM
Terrific photos (especically the butterflies) and report, Kevin. Nice way to spend the 4th; minus the heat and humidity. Your photos get better with each trip. Is it the photographer or the new camera? Yep-I did spot the poodle in the picture.