Mount Moosilauke and South Peak Winter Solo Hike- 2-3-13

Help Support

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

Sunshine Chris

New member
Dec 21, 2008
Reaction score
Webster, NH
Winter Summit: # 9 for me
Trail: Glencliff Trail to Carriage Rd., then South Peak Spur and down on Glencliff
Hiking Partners: Me, Myself and I on way up, came down with Tim Lucia, Roberta, Kyle and Val
Time: 6 hours including South Peak, lunch break and socializing- happy to make book time to summit
Mileage and Elevation: 8 miles and 3400 feet
Link to photo album: and South Peak solo hike on 2-3-13/

I was excited to get back out on the trail after a 2 week break due to blister issues so after checking the weather for Sunday I decided to set my sights on Mt. Moosilauke. The last time I was here was back on 5-24-1998 when I made my first solo hike on this summit. On the way to the trail-head I ran into a light dusting of snow on the roadways coming through Rumney and Warren. Upon my arrival to the Glencliff Trail Parking area (which was not a parking area back in 1998) I saw a van and 2 other cars. I got my boots and old micro-spikes on and hit the trail at 8:15 am (about 15 minutes behind schedule).

By the time I got to the end of the fields it was already time totake the jacket off and take a bathroom break. Back on trail I worked my way along the logging road which was dusted with snow, rocks, roots and occasional ice patches. The temps were cool (around 13 degrees in Glencliff supposedly) but I was working hard enough to keep warm and soon found myself approaching the first 1000 feet of gain and thinking to myself- only 2000' more and you'll be at the ridge line. The logging road had given way to a trail now which went along at a decent grade while continually gaining in elevation. A couple came up behind me at this point and I let them on by so I could eat a quick snack and hydrate.

I switched to my new micro-spikes so I could more easily manage the ice flows which were appearing much more often now. I ended up tagging behind this couple about 15 to 20 yards through out the climb until I lost sight of them at around 3500' when I again stopped for a quick moment to eat and drink again. Keeping properly hydrated and fueled while hiking has become something I am making a much more conscious effort to do these days and its really paying off.

Up til now the trail grade had been constant and the path decent to tread on being mostly a hard granular snow surface though interspersed with ice patches and ice flows. At around 3500' or so the forest had changed over to mostly firs and spruce that were covered with snow and the colors I was seeing made it appear almost like a black and white photo.

The sun was peaking over the ridge and I was looking forward to seeing it soon. It definitely felt cooler up here even though I was working hard to get through the last thousand feet of elevation. I met Cinnilla the dog and then Per (Frost) shortly behind the dog. We did a short introduction and then he moved on to keep up with Cinilla. The final 600 feet of gain went quickly as the trail was fairly steep. My thighs didn't think it went quick enough though (burning) and were quick to remind me that I haven't been doing much exercising these past 2 weekends. I chewed down a couple of Shot Blocks and powered through to the ridge line.

Taking note that no one had yet gone through to South Peak since last nights new snowfall I decided to go check it out on the way back through. The sun was shining strong and with a renewed strength I started my walk through the tunnel of trees towards the Moose. As I remember back in 98' I used to be able to see over the tops of these trees which were then more waist to shoulder high than above my head. I guess even in these adverse mountain conditions the trees still grow, if only more slowly. I soon caught up to the couple that I had been following earlier on and past them as they layered up for the final approach to the summit. I did not bother as I was still plenty warm.

I was having myself a grand time out here hiking solo again on this summit and enjoying the views extremely. The trail along here had an occasional post hole that was 1.5 feet deep (a real leg breaker since they were frozen in solid) so I tried to pay attention along this section. Then came some good icy spots with fresh powder on them and a-lot of small rocks to trip on everywhere as the summit approach was fairly windblown and void of much snow. My face started to get cold as I approached the 3rd to the last cairn but I was too busy enjoying the blue skies, the beautiful cloud formations and the views. There was some wind on the summit but nothing unreasonable. I climbed the summit cone by the sign and turned to find the couple from earlier right behind me so I asked if they would take my photo and got quickly down to share the summit with them.

Heading off behind the wind break of stones nearby my common sense got the best of me and I layered up and started back down. Saw a small long white haired dog and owner on the way off the summit cone but didn't stop to chat. When I got down to just before the tree lined trail I ran into Tim Lucia, Roberta and her Mountain dog Heidi, ( who had just got her clearance from the vet to start hiking with Roberta and had done Hale yesterday and Moose today), Kyle (not Keith or Kevin- inside jokes aside I can't remember names too well) and Val. I had posted to Tim on Views Friday night that I might see them up here today and was happy to have met them all for the first time (except Roberta whom I had met when we went to do Garfield a couple of weeks ago with Dave Bear). I got blisters on my heels and turned back that day and waited in the car for 7 plus hours (no fun).

At the intersection for South Peak I made the turn and decided to take the side trip up to South Peak with only 2 folks foot prints ahead of me. Dave Bear will be proud to hear that I did not bypass a side trip as I always do (Always). I just felt like I had enough left in me to run up there and check it out!) I had seen the two hikers ahead of me on the summit and couldn't resist standing there myself. It was a quick jaunt and well worth my time as the views were lovely, especially looking back towards Mt. Moosilauke.

I came down and stopped at the trail intersection again to sit with the couple I had met earlier and have lunch and change into my crampons for the climb down. I was smart enough to bring a pad to sit on this time. Along came Tim and crew and after a brief photo taking session and them lingering to chat with me and wait for me to get my crampons on, we started down together as a group. Can't seem to get Val in pic too.

It was slow going for some of them as they had kept their micro-spikes on.Roberta and Val were a couple of tree huggers for a while as we descended the upper portions of the trail. Tim had on Hillsounds which seemed to work fine for him with their longer spikes gripping the trail nicely. I was very confident in crampons and had no worries of slipping or falling and enjoyed not having to stress out about it. Lower down Tim said he thought we were through most of the ice flow sections so I took off the crampons which were beginning to tire my ankles and knees anyway and returned to the new micro-spikes. These ended up working fine for the rest of the trip down and the time seemed to fly by getting to know these folks. Thanks for sharing the trail with me on the way down folks,! It was nice meeting you all and getting to know Heidi too. By the way, how odorous was the car ride home after all Heidi's off trail rompings and discoveries? Ha Ha. Did she sit on you again Kyle? All fun aside, I had a great day in the woods and summit.

Highlights: Decent weather, summer hikers worked fine and no new blister problems (have to try my winter hikers again this week), got to set my own pace ( push hard when I wanted to) , stopped when I needed to, ate and drank regularly, met some great folks, and finally managed my layers properly to keep my base layers dry for a change which meant I felt warmer. Yeah for that!! Best of all I was able to renew confidence in myself and my abilities after several set backs this winter (turn back at cabin on Cabot due to bad wind and cold, lack of food and water intake which led to major bonking and soaked base layers (changed out) and my own fear of the conditions, turn back on Garfield due to heel blister issues and missing out on any summits last week due to the blisters getting worse on a local hike). But I am back strong and feeling good about the rest of this winter's hiking experiences. I am learning that not every attempt will be a success and not to let it get me down as there will be another summit and another weekend coming along soon anyway. As long as I am learning, making good safe choices and having fun, that's what really matters. The goals and the lists will always be there and sooner or later will be met God willing and the creek don't rise.
Wow, I can't believe how so little snow is in the mountains! Driving north on Saturday I was shocked and amazed that from Rte 3 after the notch until Twin Mountain was absolutely BARE of snow:(

Congrats on another winter 4k, don't despair, sounds like it's all a learning curve! For some reason I have a special affinity for the South Peak of Moosilaukee, I think it is underrated. I loved how you can look over at the summit, it just has a neat feel to it.
Driver 8- thanks it was a great day. By the way, when are we going to see you up here hiking again?
Hiking Lady- I was surprised how little snow there was too. My brother tried to tell me, but I didn't believe him till I saw it for myself. I think we'll see snow this weekend though. I liked South Peak and will visit it again in summertime, for sure. Hope things are going better for you.