Tuesday, January 14, 2014


My original plan for the day was to head into the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge and do some snowshoeing on the Asquam-Ridge Trail, heading up to Mount Jim and/or bushwhacking to Mount Waternomee. The backup plan was to climb Mount Moosilauke itself via the Gorge Brook Trail, an option that sounded more enticing with mild temps and 120-mile visibility reported by the Mount Washington Observatory. Snow conditions found on the trails would decide my route for the day.

After the usual dreadful bumpfest drive across Rt. 118, I parked at the entrance to the Ravine Lodge Road and headed up it bareboot under sunny skies.

From the Ravine Lodge, there are lots of trail options.

Don't park here in summer!

When I walked ahead to look at the Asquam-Ridge Trail, I saw that it was very choppy with a ski track and a bunch of boot tracks, promising unpleasant snowshoeing for several miles. The Gorge Brook Trail, on the other hand, had a smoothly packed solid track. Easy decision, though it meant the snowshoes would go for a ride today.

Check out the time frame for Tim Muskat's 7 1/2 mi. round trip.Yikes!

Dartmouth Outing Club signs show the way.

The junction with the relocated section of Gorge Brook Trail; the previous stretch along the brook was washed out by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.

With the January thaw in progress, Gorge Brook was running free. This trail is a good choice at such times because the brook crossings are bridged.

The worst icy section of the trail was a 1/4 mi. section a bit above the R turn at "Last Sure Water." Microspikes were the footwear of choice today.

This section of trail clearly follows an old tote road from the Parker-Young logging days.

The view from the cleared south outlook at 3800 ft., with Carr Mountain in the center. I stashed my snowshoes here to save some weight on the rest of the climb.

From here to treeline the trail was mostly a smoothly packed snowy sidewalk, as in these open fir woods at about 4000 ft. The moderate grades and smooth footing made for a very pleasant climb; in summer this trail is quite rocky underfoot.

View east from another cleared outlook at 4200 ft., looking at Mt. Carrigain, the Hancocks, Kearsarge North and Mt. Huntington.

At "The Balcony," I ran into our next-door neighbor, Dennis Lynch, a longtime participant in our annual White Mountain Cropwalk fund-raising hike. Dennis was on his way back down after a lunch break on the windy summit.

While Dennis and I were chatting, up came Cynthia Walthour, a very strong hiker and recent 48 X 12 "Grid" finisher. She was doing only one peak today!

Cynthia and I hiked up the rest of the way together. Above treeline it looked more like April than January.

Cynthia at the breezy summit. After a while she headed down while I lingered to take in the amazing views.

Looking eastward towards the Sandwich Range.

Vast horizons to the SW.

The Killington Range clearly seen beyond Piermont Mountain.

Looking NW beyond the foundation from the old Summit House (also known as the Prospect House and Tip-Top House), which stood here from 1860 until it burned in 1942 after a lightning strike.

It was an Adirondack-clear day! Whiteface Mountain near Lake Placid, with its ski trails visible, could be seen through Appalachian Gap.The ski trails of Mad River Glen can be seen to the L of Whiteface.

At least ten Adirondack High Peaks could be spotted beyond Lincoln Gap, hopefully labeled correctly.

Looking south to South Peak, Cube, Smarts and beyond.

Cairns along the Carriage Road.

Mount Kineo (L) and Carr Mountain (R).

A "thank-you" plaque.

Looking north along the broad summit ridge.

The high peaks, not looking very wintry.

Franconia Ridge.

After a bundled-up hour of view-hogging, time to depart.

Heading down Gorge Brook Trail towards the East Peak.

A nice patch of Mountain Cranberry, waiting for the return of snow cover.

Nice view across the eastern plateau.

A big cairn and a little cairn.

From "The Balcony," a view down to the Gorge Brook/Baker River valley and the Ravine Lodge.

The Ravine Lodge at dusk. I sat here on a bench for a few minutes, listening to the roar of the Baker River below, then slogged back down the access road to my car. It was warm, 33 degrees, and felt and sounded like spring, with many small streams flowing alongside the road. But that's winter in New England.