Submitted by NancyStats
Mountain: Mt. Moosilauke (4,802)
Date: July 14, 2006
Time: 6 hours and 40 minutes
Elevation Gain: 2,484
Trails: Asquam Ridge -- Beaver Brook -- Glenncliff -- Old Carriage Road -- Snapper Trail
Holy Shit Factor: low
Don't Watch If You Need to Pee
Grass Blowing on the Summit
On our way up to the Moosilauke, we stop in Meredith (or Annalee Land, home of the famous dolls) at our favorite convenience store to smell the warm muffins, revel in the smile of the friendly women baking them, and check out their supply of power bars. I had lost my legs hiking Tecumseh a week ago. OK, I know, Tecumseh is not hard and only 6 miles -- but my legs felt like lead and each step I took felt like the last. I think it was a result of over-exercise and having a bad day, but it scared me. Maybe my friend Pat could carry me? Maybe not. Anyway, I was determined not to loose my legs again. My answer? Power bars!
The convenience store had a wide assortment and Pat and I picked out 4 bars, and bought them all. I know, we probably didn't need 4. But I did need my legs and if it was going to take 4 power bars to ensure I had them mentally as well as physically -- then $3.96 was a small price to pay. We bought a Reeses Sweet and Salty bar, a Hershey's Sweet and Salty bar, a Luna bar and a Nature Valley Almond Sweet and Salty granola bar.
We arrived at the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge and used the bathroom before heading out at 8:52 a.m. As we started up the Asquam Ridge Trail, my mind took me back to Tecumseh. About half way up the mountain, when my legs were almost totally gone, we met a young woman, very athletic and fit, who had already climbed the majority of New Hampshire's 4,000 footers. While chatting about our hikes, she mentioned that Moosilauke was "HARD, very HARD," compared to Tecumseh, which was "nothing." Great -- I lost my legs on the EASY hike -- what was going to happen to them on the HARD hike?
A quarter of the way in on the trail, Pat, perhaps reading my anxiety, suggested we try the first power bar -- the Nature Valley Almond Sweet and Salty granola bar. Great idea! I got to rest, breathe, wipe the sweat dripping from every inch of my body, and eat while feeling the sun on my face...who could ask for anything more? The power bar was okay but difficult to rate (on a power bar tasty scale of 1-5, 5 being the best) since it was our first and we had nothing to compare it to. So we decided to wait until we had tried the others. Hey, I think those bars work! Or maybe it was my mental determination to make it. Or maybe I was just having a better day. But I had legs, they seemed to be working properly, one foot in front of the other, no lead, just my regular Nancy legs that felt strong and ready for each step up. Yeah, what a relief!
The trail was beautiful, littered with sweet white and pink flowers, covered with moss and highlighted with sunlight. And the climb was gradual -- more gradual than Tecumseh -- and of course -- I had my new-found legs which was helpful to say the least. And of course, Pat had hers as well, as always, and was forging ahead. We saw lots of moose tracks and were hoping to see the owner -- but no such luck. We joined the Beaver Brook Trail and before we knew it we cleared the tree line after about 6 miles total. I love how that happens so fast. You are climbing up, and you notice, all of a sudden, that you see more sky than trees, and there is more sunlight around you and then POW! -- you are out of the trees and into the heavens! It was beautiful! I expected bald rock, but the summit of Moosilauke is a meadow, with the wind blowing the grasses, making ripples that spread across the green summit, like the reflection of the sun on the waves of the ocean. When we first cleared the tree line, we were met by a blast of chilly wind that surprised us. It was a hot day -- so the first minute or so felt great, but after that I donned my wind breaker. Pat, of course, being better able to sustain her temperature, was fine. All along the rock lined trail to the summit and in between the boulders and along the sides of the meadow were clumps of delicate white flowers. Beautiful! We walked to the summit sign for a picture. I love when there is a sign -- it's just absolute confirmation that you've made it. Summit - 12:20pm
Okay -- first lesson learned -- take pictures of your moments of bliss. We had at least two moments of sheer bliss on this hike and we didn't get a picture of either of them! When we reached the summit, we found a large flat rock, out of the wind, to enjoy our lunch. Then, we took off our boots and socks, ahhhhh, wiggled our toes in the breeze, ahhhhhhh, and laid back on the hot rock to catch a few rays. Ahhhhhhhhh bliss...
Time for Power Bar #2 -- a Reeses Sweet and Salty with Peanuts. We both took a bite and reacted simultaneously. Yummmmmmy. Oh my God -- this was a five, as we smacked our lips and smiled at each other. OK -- Reeses had set the bar!
After lunch and bliss and recharging with our power bar, we changed into dry socks, rebooted and were off to the South Peak and then down the Carriage Road, which was wide and beautiful and offered glimpses of the mountains in the distance. Pat has an incredible sense of distance and mentioned that we should be seeing the Snapper Trail sign soon. Less than a minute later there is was. With Pat, there is no chance of getting lost -- she is so good at reading the maps, keeping track of the distances and trails, and observing all that is around her -- I have chosen the best hiking partner! Time for the third power bar, a Hershey's Sweet and Salty pretzel bar, a 4 on the power bar yummy scale.
The 3 mile trip back down to the Ravine Lodge was a cinch. The temperature was balmy, the breeze light and refreshing, and the hike down short. We reached the bridge to the AMC hut, but followed the parking sign, which turned out to be the long way back to our car. On the way up the last incline, we had a bite of the last power bar. Yes, I know we didn't need it -- but the bars had all melted since I'd put them in the front top of my pack (smart) so we figured we might as well try it since we'd have to ditch it anyway. It was a Luna Bar for women, Nutz over Chocolate. Okay, more like cardboard for women. It was a one on our rating scale and we only managed a bite each before putting it into our garbage baggie.
Time for our second moment of bliss, which also entailed taking off our boots. This time it was at the brook just below the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge, at the end of the hike. We found a nice flat rock to sit on, took off our boots and socks, and dangled our feet in the cold water: sssssssssss, ahhhhhhhhhhh. Nothing feels better than cold water on hot feet, knowing you've made it, and having a fresh bath wet wipe, a cold Snapple from the cooler and a congratulations burger and fries to look forward to!
What an awesome thing: hiking (with legs that are working) in the beauty of the White Mountains on a gorgeous day with a great friend, and checking off #10 on our 4,000 footers list. Whoooooooo Hooooooooooo!!
10 of NH 48
10 of 67 in NE
10 of the NE 100 Highest