November 5, 2011. No hiking last weekend due to a trip out to Pooch's college for parent's weekend. We were supposed to go on a hike last Sunday at the school but the crazy October snowstorm canceled that. Too bad because I would have loved to hike a part of the Berkshires, another day and another time. Tuesday the unbelievable happens. It was almost the end of the day at work and I got careless and lazy. I was rushing around and needed to move an electric lift. Rather than jump up inside the lift and move it I stood beside it and reached over the rail to use the controller. I was moving it forward and had this rotten feeling I shouldn't be doing what I was doing. Then it happened, the lift turned into me and right on top of my left foot, son of a b***h!! I did have steel toe boots on but it didn't save me from excruciating pain and quite a few expletives. Feeling like a complete ass I was able to gimp around on it with a significant limp for the last half hour. During that half hour I was cursing myself afraid this would curtail my quest for the 48, I was determined I was going to do whatever it took to not let that happen. When I got home I took off my boot and my foot had ballooned to more than twice it's size. The only good thing was that I was able to walk on it albeit one step at a time going up the stairs. One quick shower, two Alleves and on the couch with the foot elevated. I pushed myself through the rest of the week and as long as I could stand the pain and it didn't get any worse I was going out on Sunday.
So Sunday arrives and I'm going for it. Supposed to be a decent day and I chose Moosilauke for the views. The trail I choose was probably not the smartest choice though considering the condition I was in, Beaver Brook Trail. Here's what the guidebook has to say about the trail:
"It passes the beautiful Beaver Brook Cascades, but the section along the cascades is extremely steep and rough, making this trail the most arduous route to Moosilauke despite its relatively short distance. Caution: In icy conditions this part of the trail may be dangerous."
This would not be one of my early rises and get on the trail by the crack of dawn. I don't even remember now why I didn't. I get to the trailhead off the western end of the Kancamagus Highway just past Lost River by 8:30 and on the trail ten minutes later. A few minutes later and I reach a sign in book, the first and only one I have ever come across, asking name, car, and intended route. Oh and a warning about the trail I am going to attempt. Shortly after signing the book the trail starts following the brook and the waterfalls are outstanding. Within thirty minutes after starting I get to a point where the snow covered trail begins, it's like night and day, behind me no snow on the trail and in front of a few inches. This was a good time to stop and try out my most recent purchase, Kahtoola Microspikes. I continue the climb and reach the area where there is a combination of wooden stairs, rebar handles, wooden steps rebarred into the rocks. Not so easy when you have a bum foot. every step up is painful and I am forced to lead with my left foot and push off with my good right foot. On the way up I stop to take some pictures and coming up behind me is a younger guy wearing only sneakers, not the wisest choice considering the rocks are covered in snow and ice and the snow is getting deeper as the elevation increases. He passes me and more than an hour after starting I met up with him again where the trail diverges off to the left away from the brook. We talk for a few minutes and he decides to turn around and I felt that was a very wise choice considering his choice of footwear. The view from this spot was pretty cool as you could see Franconia Ridge now covered with snow. Hard to believe four short weeks ago I was up there and it was a balmy 80 degrees and today it is 30's and snow on the ground. Ah, New Hampshire!
The trail between the brook and the next junction with the Asquam-Ridge Trail is a gorgeous walk through the woods, the snow covered landscape may have a lot to do with this feeling. So far the foot is holding up, the pain still there but it is tolerable and I push on reaching the junction an hour after turning away from the brook. Here I get my first views of Moosilauke and it's snow covered dome and the rock cairns standing like sentinels marking the path to the top. As I am making my way along this section of trail I keep thinking I am hearing voices and keep telling myself it can't be possible as no one was in front of me at the trailhead. Yet I keep hearing them and finally come across two women and that explains the voices. We stop and talk and discover they weren't in front of me on Beaver Brook Trail until they got to the last junction with Asquam-Ridge Trail. They had come up a different way and made a wrong turn and ended up on Beaver Brook Trail. They were asking what trail was the better way to go down back to their vehicle, the Carriage Road Trail or Gorge Brook Trail. I told them I wasn't sure as I had come up from the Kancamagus side and actually a little nervous about going back down that way because of the conditions and my foot. They offered to give me a ride back to my car if I wanted to and to wait at the top to go back down with them. Off I went ahead of them and the idea of not having to go back down Beaver Brook was very tempting. Just before noon I break out of the tree line and start up the final open trail to the peak. The wind is howling coming out of the west across my body from my right to the left. It is so strong that I can feel it going up my nose and out my mouth, strange new experience for me. Ten minutes later and I am at the top looking for a place out of the wind to take some pictures and have my snacks.
The views on top of Moosilauke were awesome, 360 degree views with no clouds at all. A dozen shots later and I found a spot on top of the mountain tucked behind the old stone foundation and sat down to eat my snacks. About twenty minutes later the two girls showed up and they sat down with me and we started talking some more. Turns out one of them lives in the same town I do and the other a few towns over, what a small world. They reminded me that the offer of the ride back to my car was still open and after thinking about it and the time, this was the first day of daylight savings, I figured it would be quicker to tough it out and go back the way I came. It took about three and a half hours to get to the top so I felt it would be about fourish by the time I got back to the car. I really didn't want to get into the position of having to hike out in the dark with a headlamp and a bum foot so I thanked them very much for the offer and kindness and set off at ten minutes to one.
The trip down wasn't as bad as I was fearing it would be. I remembered there was about three spots on the lower section of trail by the brook that would be hairy especially where the hand holds were. But I made it through and took my time reaching the spot where I had stopped earlier to put the spikes on this time taking them off. I had intended to sign out of the book that I saw in the AM but never did find it on the way out. Just a tad under three hours from leaving the peak I made it down to the car and off I went to return home for the now recurring and habitual meal at our favorite Chinese restaurant.
Final numbers: 7.6 miles
7 hours and 5 minutes
# of peaks to date - 9