South Moat - Pretty pokey

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Sep 3, 2003
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Gorham NH
My first real mountain hike today post ankle repair. South Moat is my normal go to springtime mountain. Its southern exposure and lack of significant dense softwoods means it snow free top to bottom early in the spring. I grudgingly have sidelined the trail runners this spring post ankle break for tall Keens. I traditionally wear a size 13 4E and finding boots are a challenge. I usually go with New Balance but even NB is slowly abandoning 4E shoes. Generally, to get the width from standard wide boots I have to go up a size and the Keens are no exception. My favorite Columbia Montrail heat moldable inserts are no longer sold in the US in size 14 and superfeet take up a bit too much volume so I got to break in new pair of boots with stock insoles on this hike.

It rained yesterday so I got a late start to let things dry out a bit. The only significant snow of the day was the remains of a snowplow pile from this winter. There were few cars in the lot. This was the first chance to check out the various relos done in the last year or so. It is interesting how hard the relo builders worked to obscure the original route in few spots while the upper relo below the slabs was less well obscured as I walked right past it heading up (the old blazes are still there) . I am unsure why a couple of the major relos were done, but they do add some mileage. I was not that thrilled by the upper relo when I was heading down as it swtichbacks through a scree field and the rocks used to establish steps really are not big enough. This leads to occasional shaky steps.

My hiking pace uphill is usually dual poling and keeping an eye out for footing, its even more so these days. Real good for looking for loose change on the trail and lost car keys but not so good for sightseeing. When I stopped and did some sightseeing, its fine as the hardwoods have not budded out yet. My pace was definitely slow but steady and I was passed by few folks. I figured that would be par for the course today. The only stop I did was for about 15 minutes to cut back a large dead blowdown that was blocking choke point in the trail It was bit large for my saw but it was partially rotten so I worked around it and managed to get it partially out of the way. My other saw would have been the ticket.

It was windy on the upper mountain. The wind was from the Southwest so it was warm. I zipped my pant legs off and switched to shortsleeves about 1/2 way up. When I got to the top the views were good but I did cool down and threw on a long sleeve shirt. I got up after a break and knew heading down would be a slow experience. Every step had to be planned to assure that it was solid. I normally do that on the steep stuff but for the foreseeable future its now full time. Just below the summit I met up hiker from Saco Maine with her two Irish Setters,I mentioned this was a "rehab" hike and it turned out she had a similar injury hiking 10 years ago. We talked for bit of favorite places and I headed down while she headed up to the summit. Soon after I encountered another hiker heading up and she explained she was the worlds slowest hiker, I explained that I probably would take the title today and expected she would pass me on the way down (turned out she did). The slippery ledges were definitely wet and interesting but that upper relo with the occasional loose steps were even more "interesting". Once I got down to the flatter stuff the footing was better but my feet were decidedly not liking the new boots. No blisters but unlike trail runners, boot need a bit more breaking in. I did appreciate the lower section which was the big relo from 20 years ago that got the trail on public land to the current parking lot.

So no trips or falls and no major irritation from the hardware in the ankle but I am definitely hobbling a bit post hike. Its as much not hiking since November as it is marginal ankle. I have been doing a lot of local walking with a pack partially loaded with water bottles but no substitute for hiking. Now take a couple days off and repeat. I do have an ankle brace that will fit a trail runner so that is combination I hope to transition to.
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Glad you got out. My neighbor broke her ankle on that trail last fall but has fully rehabbed and has already been up the same trail this year. You know what they say when you fall off the horse.
Thanks, I have set on order. Hope they last as long as the Montrail's have.
Way to go peakbagger! Pokey or not, you went up and down under your own power. That's great. You're an inspiration. Mountains still seem a long way off for me but I'm making progress. For the first time in 7 months, I walked back and forth over the 1890's pedestrian bridge in town. It's only a mile round trip but it felt like climbing Washington. I also picked up my tennis racquet and hit balls off a wall at PT for a half hour. Hey, I haven't lost my backhand. Haven't lost my desire to make a full recovery and get back to the mountains either. There are still a few White Mt peaks in the 2000-4000 foot range that I haven't experienced. It's a motivation to keep working. All the best in your future hikes.
Thanks. I did Welch Dickey today and switched back to my favorite trail runners with an athletic ankle brace. The overall hike was much improved compared to the new big tall boots I used on the last hike up the Moats. I felt a lot more confident on the slabs and the various scrambles. I still would be very qualified to look for lost car keys and loose change as I still look pretty carefully where I step but much improved.
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