Moist Mount Moosilauke - Fourth of July Weekend Southbound Traverse

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Aug 13, 2012
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West Hartford, CT (Photo: Sages Ravine, Salisbury,
My friend Lou planned a four day weekend section hike of the A.T., starting at Franconia Notch and ending at Hikers Welcome in Glencliff. I was able to join him for a hike I'd long wanted to do - the traverse of Moosilauke from Kinsman Notch to Glencliff. We planned to meet noon Saturday - we'd camp overnight at Beaver Brook Shelter, then traverse the rest of the mountain via the A.T. routing Sunday.

I got up early Saturday for the drive up, made good time on the 93 approach, arrived at 11:45. Reconnoitered with my pack, was ready to go by noon. Waiting by the trail near the parking lot, I soon met a SOBO thru named Dog Whisperer who'd passed Lou earlier and who confirmed he'd be another hour or so. I texted Lou I'd be back at 1, made a call and found out Mountain Wanderer was open, then drove down into Lincoln for my first visit to Steve Smith.

Had a nice half hour chat with Steve, who I sensed immediately as a kindred spirit. What a lovely person, so smart and kind-spirited. I thanked him and expressed my appreciation for his and Mike Dickerman's excellent work on the 4000-footers book and the AMC WMG. We chatted about this and that, from hikes we'd enjoyed to map geekery to the fact he has family living in the town next door to mine and often visits CT. I would happily have stayed all afternoon visiting with him, but time pressed, so, buying a MW hat, I took my leave of Steve and said I hoped to meet him again soon.


Back to the Notch, soon found out from another SOBO, Brightside, that Lou would be a bit longer. Clearly weary from the trail and a bit gassed, Lou arrived just after two. He took a half hour rest for lunch and such, dropped some unneeded gear in my car, and at 2:40 pm, we were off. Eyeing what lay ahead of us, I predicted it would take me four hours to get to the shelter. He said we had plenty of time, though I might want to carry my heavy tent, in addition to everything else in my pack, to be assured of a place to sleep. I went on sans tent and with my sleeping bag in my 30 lb+ pack. This was to be the hardest stretch of trail I'd done yet, carrying the heaviest pack. That was plenty, thanks. A fellow hiker took our picture as we departed:


Early, I outpaced Lou, leg-weary as he was. He encouraged me to take the lead. That quickly flipped as we got to the steeps. That always slows me down. Lou went on ahead, I think in part hoping to secure a spot in the shelter for me, though he didn't say as much. I got this pic of him at the first big falls - he jetted on up shortly after as a I took a break to shed my shirt - I run hot, and it wasn't helping.


I took my time and enjoyed the falls, pressing as fast as I could but nursing my leg strength along - carrying my frame and the big pack up that steep trail was a haul. I loved the seemingly endless series of waterfalls and enjoyed meeting so many fellow hikers on what turned out to be, after some worrying forecasts and late morning rain south of Moosilauke on the way up, a superb afternoon for a hike. With the recent rains, the falls were running great, and, of course, the trail was slick all they way up until near the switchback just before the shelter.




I was pleased to see, when I got to the shelter, first, that it was only 6:30, so I was 10 minutes faster than predicted. Secondly, there was room for one more - me - in the shelter. Yea!

I'd had to reckon with incipient cramps in my right leg at 3300', just made my lefty do most of the lifts up from there - I favor it a bit due to a slight hyperextension from a fall on Pierce in the slush in early May. Lefty was up to the job, and a little Gatorade and an apple probably helped, too, as well as a rich fruit-veggie smoothie along the way I'd bought at the grocers.

We had a nice crew of 7 at the shelter, four SOBO thrus, including Brightside (sitting on the step rock) and Dog Whisperer (far left), whom I'd met earlier. Lou's at right, Pink Leprechaun has the AT tattoo and is just left of Brightside, Lizzy, a biomed researcher and fellow weekender, is just left of Lou, Smiles, a recent Dartmouth alum, is napping behind Lou out of the picture - I'd also met her down in the notch earlier. I don't recall the name of the other hiker front left - he was a local weekender and one of a few tenters that also camped overnight at Beaver Brook. Also missing from the picture is Nala, DW's pretty dog.


Sunrise Sunday morning was among the prettiest I've ever seen. My phone cam doesn't handle light contrasts very well, so, believe it or not, this shot is very washed out. The real thing was exquisitely subtle, as if painted by Van Gogh or Monet - we agreed it was a special Fourth of July Weekend fireworks display, courtesy of the sun and the Whites:


I was eager to get going, and didn't want to slow Lou down, so I left not long after we finished oogling the sunrise, about 6 am. The trek up Moosilauke was windy once I got out of Mt. Blue's lee, and, up above 4500', cool. I put on my short sleeved shirt just before the Benton Trail intersection. Really enjoyed the line of tall cairns coming up the north side of the alpine zone. Just past this spot, I rock-hopped over to the edge of Benton Ravine, to be greeted by strong pulses of wind - 25 mph was prevailing, with common gusts in the 30s and some 40s. At the edge of the ravine, I got a few 50s. Intense! Per the MWObs, the wind measured on W at 8:48, about the time I was looking into the ravine, was 51, IIRC, with a top gust of 58. Not long after, I got to the summit at 9 am:


My phone was even more tired than my legs. It didn't quite make it to the summit, but it got this close:


It went from 7% battery, per the display, to closing while saving that shot. Came back up for me on the way below South Peak, taking a couple more pics and calling it a day. It was fitting, as summit views were limited today - Cube was faint, F Ridge was a whisper, there was maybe a hint of Bond and some other 4K's to its south - Osceola and Tecumseh, but not Tripyramids or the Hancocks. Fortunately, I had a 100-mile view day last year May 5, so this hike was about the falls, the challenge, the company, the great sunrise and meeting Steve Smith as well as another fine day on Moosilauke.

It was cold at the summit, with some of the intermittent spitting almost-rain hitting me, so I put on a long-sleeved shirt under my short-sleeved summer shirt. Wore those until the Carriage Road-Glencliff split, then took both off, as I was heating up with descent and out of the wind's fury.

As it turned out, I needn't have worried about Lou. Once off the steeps, my pace matched his pretty well, and having left about 7:15 per Brightside and Pink Leprechaun, he only caught me at the hostel - he took the road walk at the end, per a message I sent along the way with a fellow hiker, and I opted to take the A.T. route once it turns off Sanatorium Road, which was a bit longer. I got to Hiker's Welcome at 2:45 or so, as he was showering. Pretty well perfect timing, just wish we'd been able to hike more together this time, as we've enjoyed previous hikes together in CT.

Lou then kindly shuttled me the long trip around to K Notch, and we both took 112 to 302 to 91. I stopped for a nice dinner in Hanover on the way and got home at a decent hour.


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