October 19, 2013.
My fourth trip up to the summit of Moosilauke. I believe this is the most visited summit up to this point. With the red-lining I have one more time I have to return (don't have to summit but most likely will) when I do Benton Trail. Plus when I do the AT next year I'll be going over it also. It is one of my favorite peaks anyways thanks to the 360° views and each time I have been up here there have been views thanks to good weather. So the plan for today is very ambitious, knocking off the rest of the trails on Mt Moosilauke except for the aforementioned one on the NW side.
Trying to make it to the trailhead by sunrise to maximize my daylight hiking time as I have almost 19 miles of hiking to do with my full backpack. Just past the Polar Caves and I pull over for some full moon shots off to my left.
Arriving at Breezy Point, the location of the old Moosilauke Inn. A postcard of the old hotel and how it looks today. This inn burnt down back in 1953 and was rebuilt and officially closed in 1981.
Starting out on the Carriage Road, which was used to bring guests up to the summit, today it is one of the trails on Moosilauke. Just after starting located to the right of the trail is the old remains of a foundation possibly an outbuilding of the old inn.
The Carriage is exactly what one would picture it as, a wide old tote road heading up through the woods.
Shortly I am back on old familiar ground as I pass by the Hurricane Trail on the left and cross over Big Brook on the Camp Misery Memorial Bridge. I stay on the eastern end of Hurricane Trail heading towards the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge and make the quick detour over to the lodge. Something I did not do last year when I was on this section of trail.
Up on the lawn in front of the lodge and views of where I'll end up later in the day.
Poking around the grounds and a new cabin is going up.
Back to the trail and I reach the split for the Asquam Ridge Trail and Al Merrill Loop. This time I head to the right taking the Al Merrill Loop and ten minutes up there is a side trail off to the left to another cabin, John Rand Cabin, complete with its own wood pile.
It is a beautiful isolated spot and the view from the wraparound porch is fantastic.
Back to the Al Merrill Loop and this trail is another old logging road all the way up to the northern junction with Asquam Ridge Trail.
Up around 3500' the trail turns left and another trail heads straight, part of the cross country ski trail. In retrospect I probably should have headed out on it as the sign says it was a dead end. I believe it heads out to the summit of Mount Braley, suppose I will have to check it out another time. Thirty minutes up the trail and there is another sign this one for an outlook that is becoming grown in.
The view of South Peak and Moosilauke from the outlook.
I reach the junction with the Asquam Ridge Trail and head down the trail towards the Baker River. Almost six miles in and I see the first hiker for the day. Not bad for a very popular mountain. After crossing the Baker River I come across the detour I inadvertently missed last year, the one that looks like a horse hitching post. At the bottom of the detour I see the small sign with an arrow pointing the way left that I missed and instead went straight. The picture shows how easy it is to have missed this.
Just before crossing the Baker River again I come to the closed section of the Asquam Ridge Trail. This part of the trail was closed because of Hurricane Irene in 2011. Looking down the trail and curiosity gets the better of me.
Walking along I question why this trail is closed as nothing looks out of the ordinary but eight minutes in and I quickly see why. At first it is just a bunch of trees laying across the trail.
Trying to find a path around these trees and the reason the trail is closed is no longer a mystery. A huge swath of the trail is wiped out by a slide.
Getting across is not too bad and a view looking back at the mess.
Approaching the end of the closed trail and the bridge that leads over Baker River to the Ravine Lodge and I start seeing runners coming across. I find it odd that they are holding a race on these trails. Turning right onto Gorge Brook Trail and more runners turn with me and are heading up also. I would find out later that they are members of the Dartmouth cross country ski team and they run up to the summit as part of their training. Dartmouth College owns most of this mountain including the Ravine Lodge. Further up the trail there is a strange clearing next to the trail, not sure if this is mother nature's doing or human intervention. For what it's worth it does afford views to the south of Mt Kineo and Mt Carr.
Just before hitting the ledges views open up to the east from Lafayette to Cushman.
A few minutes later and I am on the ledges with South Peak across the valley and the trail heading back into the scrubby trees.
Breaking out of the trees and the summit of Moosilauke is within reach already busy with mid day hikers.
Heading up the exposed trail to that leads to the summit and just ten minutes before 1:00 and I have arrived on this summit for the fourth time.
Hanging around briefly to take a few pics as the views are hazy with Mt Washington just barely discernible behind Mt Liberty.
It is a bit too crowded for me so I do not linger and start heading down the Glencliff Trail which is always a pleasant part of the trail making its way towards South Peak.
At the three way junction with Glencliff Trail, South Peak Spur and Carriage Road I continue straight on Carriage Road. Again the trail/road is wide open from the long ago days of it being used by the Inn. I reach a spot where the old Snapper Trail use to go and almost take it by mistake. The only thing stopping me is a couple I ended up hiking close to for the next mile and a half and they told me it was an old trail. A short ways down and I reach the "newer" trail relocated back in 1991. As the three of us make our way down we enjoy some good conversation with me explaining my red-lining project and what I have hiked so far today. I also explain the reason for carrying my full overnight pack trying to get used to the weight and my upcoming AT trip. Reaching the Snapper and Gorge Brook Trails junction we part ways and they wish me good luck on my adventure next year.
Turning around and making my way back up Snapper Trail and I can start to feel the miles get to me. It is only 1.1 miles and I feel draggy but in the end it takes just as long to get back up to Carriage Road as it did to come down Snapper Trail. Funny how the mind plays with the body sometimes. On the way I start running into groups that I met on the way up Gorge Brook Trail and they all ask the same question, "didn't we meet going up?", of course each time I explain my crazy way of red-lining these trails and the out and backs I have to incur to accomplish this.
Now there is just three miles left to get back to the vehicle. Thankfully it is all downhill and mostly easy terrain. In the end it was a pretty good day meeting some very nice fellow hikers. I proved to myself that I could carry the full pack and do some pretty high mileage with some major elevation in pretty decent time. How many more months? Bring on the AT!
Final numbers: 18.8 miles, 9 hours and 25 minutes.
Redline Miles: 12.2, Total to Date: 431.3