The mountains I climb each have their own personalities and seem to invite me to climb them at particular times in my life. My relationship with Moosilauke has always been during transition times. The first climb, I was looking for someone (figuratively, he was nowhere to be found and has since walked away from me), the second time I was transitioning to winter hiking (success!), the third and fourth times there were people moving in and out of my life, and now on the fifth visit, it seems to be the same story from a year ago. Plus, the mountain is transitioning to Spring. I had attempted the hike last week and returned because I hate when things are left undone. I wanted to put and end to my March on a good note and needed a win. I set myself up to get moving by 5:30am and that did wonders for my mind. Extra sleep these days is always welcome. Isis and I made our way up north and I hoped that the roads were not too icy… I was in luck but the frost heaves on 118 heading to Ravine road almost swallowed my car or sent it air born. We landed at the trail head at 7:45am and headed back up the road.
The road walk for the Ravine lodge and to get to the trails was icy and in need of some pack down from post holing. I wore my snowshoes from the car, betting on some soft spring snow in the trails. Isis and I walked and reflected on the year (since the annual meeting was 2 weeks away) and enjoyed the warmer temps already this morning. Reaching the Ravine Lodge, we began making our way to the actual hiking trails. No issues crossing the snow field behind the lodge this time, Isis and I plowed through (after a quick human pit stop) and found ourselves heading up Gorge Brook. The gloves and the hat had come off and my warm outer shell was also on the verge of being packed. The day was gloriously warm and as we moved up the trail, the heat was evident. Gorge Brook had been rerouted from storm damage and this was my first chance to take the reroute. After a quick incline, it seemed to flatten out and moved swiftly in the trench that was made from other snow shoes before mine. The pace we kept was our own and Isis and I were in sync with one another. This hike was turning into a great afternoon with my favorite four legged companion.
We did slow ourselves on the real vertical gain (after the sign for the last sure water at 3300 Feet). The trails snow pack was mushy and a real work out for myself and I am sure for Isis too. Even still, we were moving at a good pace or at least one that was better than in the past. I was now hiking in just my vest and turtle neck so, I was happy to be down layers. Isis and I reached the first outlook and I stopped to take in my view. This was of course the first view I ever had from a 4000 footer on my first climb so, it was really special to me. I paused and remembered each individual time I stopped here and almost cried at the memories. I now shared it with Isis and we also stopped for some food. I took a few deep breathes and began moving again. We made our way up the steeper sections and began getting ready to break tree line. I was excited for the views and I also heard the wind picking up so, I put my coat and hat back on. We broke tree line and saw the clouds beginning to descend. The view was diminishing…. Classic Moosilauke. This mountain had the personality of a trickster for and for as much soul searching as I do on this peak, I laugh all the same. Today, I laughed all the way to the summit. Over trails that were barely there and in some cases really slick and navigated like a balance beam while having one hand on the side of a slope. Balanced on a steep drop off and trying to get Isis to stop playing so that we didn’t slide down the mountain off trail.
I began getting glimpses of the summit post and knew that we were getting closer. The wind was not too bad although it was picking up. Isis and I continued to make our way across and up the final push to a very windy summit. I set up the tripod and the self-timer on the camera to capture the moment on Moose. Isis was not going to wait around too long and we began to move down the Carriage road trail which was blown over and down to just a crust. The cairns were covered in rhime and looked really pretty. We ran into Coco the Akita and her entourage of humans. Isis was very good with her and seemed accepting of her nose in her face. I was pleased with the interaction and while I wanted to stick around, they wanted to make the summit. We all agreed that this was a classic day on Moose. Heading down the ridge on the Carriage road, the post holes and the spring snow began to appear again and we soon ran into Gretchen who had just begun her journey on the 48 and was visiting for the first time. We had a great talk right there on the ridge and were it not for a need to keep Isis moving, we may have chatted longer. I am sure we will share the trails again sometime.
Isis and I skipped the south peak and continued down the Carriage road to the Snapper Trail. As we were going down we ran into a lot of people skinning up to the summit. Most were intent on just keeping going but as we rounded a corner, we were greeted by 2 dogs that were unleashed and intent on greeting Isis. She was not thrilled and I noted that too many dogs make her nervous where only one dog will be fine to greet her. I picked her up and made my way past the owners who were disappointed to hear that they were probably a half hour away from the summit (maybe more). The layers once again came off as we hit the Snapper Trail.
The Snapper seemed less broken out and a little unstable in terms of snow pack. I found myself sinking in a lot more and there was some post holing to maneuver through. It was a short trail though that connected with Gorge Brook and lead us out of the woods so, it was bearable. Isis and I again enjoyed the warmer temps and the hike in general had a rhythm to it (perhaps provided by the snow shoes I was wearing). Today’s hike had been such a success where for the past few weeks, we had such rotten luck. My own mind can sometimes seriously derail even the most enjoyable hikes. Today, I was able to just enjoy the trails, Isis, and nature in the warm early spring sun. We stopped a few times on the Snapper Trail to have some food or to take a rest and catch my breath. Once back on George Brook, it would not be long until we hit the Lodge and then the road walk.
Indeed before I knew it, we were standing by the Lodge having another snack and I had some soup to fuel myself for the road walk. I smiled slightly as I looked down at Isis. The day was almost done and what a day it was for us. Isis and I had a good laugh at the classic move The Moose pulled by giving us great views on the way up and then pulling the grand view right out from under us and clouding in the summit. We ran into a family on their way to one of the cabins for the night with Cooper the dog who would not listen well and wanted to follow me to my car. I had to laugh again for the memory of my trip last April and I also noted how much quieter this one had been on the descend. Isis and Cooper got along just fine and I was a firm believer in my theory that too many dogs together overwhelm my little girl. Back at the car, we crossed through the mud and Isis tracked her muddy paws into my car. Spring was truly here. The ride home was full of music and cheese and coffee along with a Munchkin for Isis.
Transitions are never easy and my desire to just hike was fulfilled today as there was no conversation and plenty of observation of trail conditions and surroundings, on a peak that I always seem to find myself on during times of new beginnings. This is my story as well as a trip report and blog, I have been lost and walking in the woods trying to figure things out. I had been discouraged and fighting with my own thoughts as I got turned back week after week and turned away from a lot I have known. A person gets tired of feeling this way and soon just learns that this is the way it is and so, I hike with Isis and enjoy the company of those that join me either from start to finish or those I meet along the way. I have given up those notions from my very first hike of Moose in favor of a more seasoned hiker view point. Funny how this time last year, I came home to an empty house (and a puppy who needed to pee) and this year, Isis and I came home to the something similar… My life is my own again and the energy already feels better. Let’s see where it takes me. April should be a month of new beginnings on the peaks I love the most. See you all out on the trails.
Fifth round officially started today.... Maybe I should finish my third and fourth rounds first??