MOUNT MOOSILAUKE GRAND TOUR: 9/27/13
I decided to visit the Moose for the second time in a month, but by an almost completely different route from my Benton Trail hike three weeks earlier. Our favorite way to climb this favorite mountain is the long, mostly gentle loop up via the Asquam-Ridge and Beaver Brook Trails, with descent via the Carriage Road and, today, a little longer variation using the lower Hurricane Trail. Skies were cloudy and the high peaks socked in on this morning, but there was supposed to be increasing sunshine during the day, and I had hopes that the views would be clear by the time I reached the summit.
At the trailhead on Ravine Lodge Road I ran into Eli Burakian, whose spectacular book of photography, Moosilauke: Portrait of a Mountain, is a great tribute to this marvelous peak. He was here on an assignment for the Dartmouth College magazine.
The Asquam-Ridge Trail starts out nearly level on an old logging road along the east side of the Baker River.
It crosses the river on a sturdy DOC-built bridge.
A nice birch glade along the west side of the river. In this area the trail passes by the site of logging camp #3 of the Parker-Young Company from the 1940s.
A scene along the rocky Baker River.
After re-crossing the river on another bridge, the Ridge Trail climbs to a junction with the Al Merrill Loop.
Easy grades are the rule as the Ridge Trail slabs up the side of Mount Waternomee.
A very pleasant route to the Moose.
Higher up, the trail switchbacks its way up the side of Mount Jim through mossy fir forest. The trail passes close by the densely-wooded 4172-ft. summit, which is on the "Trailwrights 72" list. With just a 1700-ft. ascent from the Ravine Lodge trailhead, this might be the easiest 4000-ft. peak in the Northeast.
A view of Mount Blue ahead where the Ridge Trail passes through a fir wave.
The Ridge Trail ends at the Beaver Brook Trail on a high saddle between Mount Jim and Mount Blue. Here I heard a Bicknell's Thrush calling, and then singing (a bit out of season).
A rough and rocky section runs along the rim of Jobildunk Ravine.
One spot along the trail offers a partial view over the ravine and out to the SE.
Farther along, I made a very steep bushwhack down to a clifftop with an open view over Jobildunk Ravine, a U-shaped glacial cirque.
Off to the left, the rounded summit of Mount Jim.
Looking down at the cliff.
Rock slabs on the headwall.
The biggest slab bears a thin cascade spilling down its right edge; this becomes quite an ice bulge in winter. Back in the summer of 1990 I bushwhacked up the ravine, admired the cascade from below, and ascended through the dense woods to the right of the slab, a trip I would not care to repeat.
Another angle on Jobildunk, which supposedly was named for three early explorers in the area: Joe, Bill and Duncan.
I returned to the Beaver Brook Trail and followed it up over the flank of Mount Blue. At the high point a cairn marks a herd path leading to the wooded 4529-ft. summit of this "Trailwrights 72" peak. I'd been there once before and didn't make the side trip today.
Nice fir forest along Beaver Brook Trail.
Approaching the main summit of Moosilauke, the clouds, which had cleared out for a while, were now rolling back in. Damn!
Alpine vegetation heading up the bare north ridge of Moosilauke.
Cairns looming in the fog. Several American Pipits were foraging along the ridge.
Interesting "stone net" pattern caused by frost action.
This rock windbreak at the summit comes in handy on breezy days, but today the air was nearly calm.
Summit signs in classic Dartmouth Outing Club orange.
Then the clouds parted dramatically, revealing an eastward view.
A break of sun lights the Tripyramids.
A fall mosaic with clouds and sun.
The sun glints off Wachipauka Pond, Lake Tarleton and Lake Armington.
Franconia Ridge emerges from the clouds.
Eventually the clouds broke fully for views in all directions, including north to the Kinsmans.
A hiker and dog head south on the Carriage Road, with a long view west.
Looking down the Carriage Road to the South Peak. A great stretch of above-treeline walking.
An outlook down into the Gorge Brook ravine with Ravine Lodge nestled at its base.
A visit to the South Peak is a must when making a loop over Moosilauke.
On the South Peak, looking back at the main summit.
My favorite view from South Peak, looking down into Tunnel Brook Notch at Mud Pond and the slides on Mount Clough.
One of the slides in Moosilauke's Slide Brook ravine.
Mud Pond (on the L) and neighboring beaver ponds.
The Carriage Road offers intermittent views for quite a ways down from the Glencliff Trail junction.
I passed by the usual Snapper Trail loop in favor of a longer loop via the Carriage Road and the lower mile of the Hurricane Trail. This section of the Carriage Road is much less used and mostly has excellent footing. Below 2850 ft. it passes through a magnificent mature hardwood forest, with fine colors glowing overhead. There are more nice woods on the Hurricane Trail, which has very smooth footing and easy grades until a final 100-ft. climb up to a rickety bridge crossing over Gorge Brook. All told this route makes a great 10.9 mi. loop (including the side trip to South Peak) with 2900 ft. of elevation gain.