Wednesday, March 11, 2015


With warmer temperatures finally at hand, it was a good day for the always rewarding loop from the Ravine Lodge over "The Moose." This trip runs longer in winter due to the 1.6 mile approach on the unplowed Ravine Lodge Road. But with it light now until 7:00 pm, longer trips are more feasible.

I started up Ravine Lodge Road mid-morning from parking off Rt. 118, put my snowshoes on, and kept them on for the rest of the day.

From the front of the Ravine Lodge, the day's route was in sight: East Peak on the right, South Peak on the left.

Off we go, on a track that was firm beneath two to three inches of fresh boot-chopped snow.

Gorge Brook is under there somewhere.

Open woods on the Gorge Brook Trail relocation that was cut in 2012, the year after Tropical Storm Irene.

This is the approximate location, I think, where the legendary Hell's Highway ski trail came down near the brook. This super-steep trail was cut in 1933 by the Dartmouth Outing Club under the direction of ski coach Otto Schniebs.

The second bridge over Gorge Brook was almost buried.

The point where the Gorge Brook Trail turns to the right, away from the brook. This well-designed relocation, with several switchbacks, was cut in 1989-90 by the DOC.

The trail follows an old Parker-Young logging road to the first outlook, facing south towards Carr Mountain.

There's an abundance of beautiful open fir woods along this next section of the Gorge Brook Trail. Near here I met the only other hikers of the day - Georg, Ron and Larry (aka Old Man and the Saw), who were on their way down.

The southern Whites from the next outlook along the trail, seen over the Blue Ridge.

Mount Blue with its snowy fir waves.

Late winter beauty.

Heading up onto the open scrubby section known as "The Balcony."

Snowshoe hare tracks.

Distant views beyond Mount Jim and Mount Waternomee.

Looking back to the Franconia and Presidential Ranges from The Balcony.

The Gorge Brook slides and South Peak.

An open area on the East Peak.

Approaching the summit along the broad eastern shoulder.

An important reminder at any time of year.

An alpine moonscape provided an exhilarating stroll across the crusty snow.

What a day for views!

Peering down into Lincoln, with the Hancocks and Mount Carrigain beyond. Our house is down there somewhere.

Cairn and summit.

Black Hawk coming over the ridge.

The final approach.

The brisk south breeze was kicking up some snow.

Atop my favorite summit.

Vast horizons westward. Beyond the Green Mountains I could faintly make out Mount Whiteface, with its ski trails, and Giant Mountain, with its slides, in New York's Adirondacks.

A windbreak filled in with snow at site of the old Summit House (1860-1942).

I enjoyed a late lunch break in the lee of a windbreak. The temperature up here at 4802 ft. was in the 30s and the wind was from the south, lighter than predicted.

Nice spot to hang out for a while, no one else around.

Heading down the Carriage Road, mid-afternoon.

I tiptoed across this icy spot in my snowshoes.

Looking ahead to "Middle Peak" and South Peak.

Looking back at the summit. With the late winter snowpack, the Carriage Road was an open snow ridge walk for quite a ways.

Drifts and the western horizon.

South Peak close ahead.

A good snowpack at the Glencliff Trail junction.

View into Tunnel Brook Notch partway up the South Peak side trail.

The side trail was a postholed mess. Microspikes/crampons aren't much use with deep soft drifts.

The summit and east shoulder from South Peak.

Slides and fir waves in Slide Ravine. John "1HappyHiker" Compton and I visited the large slide last year.

The classic view from South Peak.

This deep drift on the east side had a 360-degree view.

Ravine Lodge down in the valley.

Down in the col the South Peak side trail was a duck-under tunnel.

Sign on the Carriage Road below the Glencliff Trail junction.

Smooth sailing on the untracked Carriage Road - a welcome change from miles of plowing over bareboot divots and postholes. There was 2-3" of powder atop a solid base - some of the best 'shoeing of the season.This was the site of the first National Downhill Ski Championship in 1933.

This is the location of the upper end of Hell's Highway, where the long-abandoned Wadchu Shelter was built in 1935.

The Snapper Trail was untracked also, but the temperature down here was warm enough that the newer snow clumped up badly under my snowshoes. Still, this is a great snowshoeing trail with mellow grades and nice open woods. A fine way to come back down off the Moose.

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