April 15, 2012. This will mark the second time since starting this adventure that I will hike two days in a row, another test. I felt good yesterday after hiking Cabot and even with the winds I was pretty warm by the end of the hike so today there will be no thermals. The path will be heading up the Stony Brook Trail off of Route 16 just south of Gorham. I really wanted to go up via Carter Moriah Trail, another section of the Appalachian Trail but there have been no recent trail reports for that section. This being the iffy time of year for trail conditions I opted for the more "popular" route of Stony Brook which tops out and intersects with Carter Moriah up on the ridge.
My all too usual wake up time of 3:30 am and on the road at 5:15. The temperature is mild for this early in the morning and when I arrive at the trailhead at 7:45 and it is 41°. I am the first one in the lot and a quick ten minutes later am on the trail. The trail starts out as a wide open path through the woods making two stream crossings and then parallels Stony Brook, which is on my right, for quite a ways. Less than a half hour into the hike it is time to delayer. Off comes the long sleeve shirt and also the pant legs, I am now in a tee shirt and shorts hiking in the middle of April. Feeling much better and cooler on the open trail. A little over two miles up it crosses Stony Brook again and follows another old logging road.
Eventually the logging trail starts to peter out and starts to resemble the normal hiking trails I have grown accustomed to. It is now a boulder strewn trail and the ice also becomes prevalent.
Five minutes shy of two hours and I reach the junction with the Carter Moriah Trail and another section of the AT. There is snow in the col here between Moriah and Imp. Winter trying to hang on for as long as it can.
A short four minutes later and I come onto the first ledge of many and the "view smile" comes across my face. There is an immediate drop off from this ledge looking down into the valley and across the way looking south I can see the Baldfaces, Sable and Chandler Mt. Turning left there are more ledges which I initially thought was the summit of Moriah but in reality one of its' shoulders. Just beyond the first ledge there is a gigantic boulder off to the right of the trail standing up as if someone placed it there.
Up on the next ledge the views get better as the Presi's start to make an appearance. Further up and it just keeps getting better and better with each ledge. It is a slow 1.4 miles up to the summit as I continually stop on every ledge soaking in the views that are better than the previous ledge. Mt Washington finally makes its grandiose appearance and the quest for the summit begins to become insignificant in comparison to these ledges.
While walking along these ledges strange fossilized footprints from many millenniums ago appear.
OK OK there really worn out areas of the ledges from water runoff from over the years. Finally after two hours and twenty-five minutes (1.4 miles, horrible mileage per hour but worth every minute) of sight seeing more than hiking I make it to the summit of Moriah. Great hike, great weather and great views. This one ranks up there with one of the best for me. The views are truly amazing. From Old Speck Mountain in Maine, to the Northern Presi's, to Bear Mt, Carter Dome, Mt Hight, Middle and North Carter, and the new Federal Prison in Berlin.
Fifteen minutes after leaving and it is time to head back down the way I came up. Enjoying the views still on the open ledges but not spending as much time on them as on the way up. I make the trip down to the trailhead in two hours and thirty-five minutes. A shocking time considering that was ten minutes longer than the 1.4 miles I did earlier and the trip down is five miles. Off to home I head for the best chinese food in town and one quick detour up Route 16 for a shot of what I just climbed. Today was a great day on a great mountain that is very low on the 48 4000 footer height list, number 41. Only 8 more to go!!
Final numbers: 10.1 miles, 6 hours and 10 minutes, 1 peak, # of peaks to date - 40.