My friends Claudine, Marlene and I co-led an Appalachian Mountain Club hike up Mount Moosilauke (4802′) on Saturday, the westernmost 400o footer in the White Mountain 48. Climbing this peak has a special significance for me because it’s the first 4,000 footer I ever climbed. In addition to climbing the main summit, we also climbed the Southern Peak (4523′) to add a little spice to the route.
We had a nice sized group of hikers on this hike, nine plus three leaders. Many leaders let more people come on their hikes, but I like to keep my groups smaller so I get a chance to move up and down the line and talk to each hiker during the day. Meeting new hikers is one of the perks of being an Appalachian Mountain Club leader, for me at least, and is an enjoyable element of the hiking experience that I can’d get when I hike solo.
There are quite a few different trails, that climb Mount Moosilauke, which is a massive, squat mountain that stands by itself on the southwestern corner of the White Mountain National Forest. On Saturday, we climbed up the Gorge Brook Trail which is a long, rocky, steep climb that goes on and on for miles, and climbs straight up to Moosilauke’s rocky summit.
I’d warned everyone to bring extra layers and hard shells for the summit, which is always quite windy. I think they were still surprised by the ferocity of the winds and how fast evaporative cooling can cool you down if you’re soaking wet with sweat. I was ready to break out a pair of gloves, even though it was summer and quite hot and humid.
Once at the summit, which took us about 3.5 hours to climb, we sheltered behind the ruins of an old inn that used to be on the mountain top, and ate lunch. Lindsey, bless her, had remembered to bring summit cookies and we munched these down. Two hikers in our party had also brought fish (in pouches) and bread with them for lunch, and despite the shelter of the stone wall, bits of fish were blown onto other hikers in our group! I still chuckle at the memory.
After lunch, we descended south from the main summit via the Appalachian Trail, getting back below treeline, and headed over to the the South Peak of Moosilauke. The turn off to the South Peak is not especially well marked, but it starts at the trail junction where the Carriage Rd intersects the AT (Glencliff Trail.) Look for a small path leading through 8 foot trees through an forested area covered with a thick carpet of moss. The south peak is a few hundred yards down this path, with an open summit that provides excellent views of Vermont and New York State in clear weather. You can also view the steep west side of Moosilauke where it plunges down to Tunnel Brook.
After a short photo session, we headed back to the Carriage Rd and on down the mountain, following the Snapper Ski Trail after, and back to Ravine Lodge at the base of the mountain. There are both pretty boring trails compared to the magnificent Gorge Brook Trail, and best relegated to down-climbing (IMHO.)
Personal circumstances almost required that I cancel out of this hike, but I’m glad I was able to work my schedule to stay on the trip and go with this group. Great people and I look forward to hiking with them again.
Total hike time was 6:15 with 7.5 miles of hiking and 2750 feet of elevation.