Mount Moosilauke has a special place in my heart. It was my first 4K back in 2011 and will remain a beloved peak for that reason. There have been a lot of firsts on this one and each time I hike it, I seem to get called back to it. As if it's telling me that "even in times of transition, it's time to walk it off". So, this week, even though I briefly considered Carrigain, I went for the Moose. Leaving pretty close to 5:30am, this seemed late for me. Route 118 is in decent shape for driving and of course the last time I headed up this way, it was winter so, anything is an improvement. Ravine Lodge Road is open and so, there is no road walk again for a while. I park my car further up and way from the crowd so that maybe I have an easy time getting out at the end of the day. I have packed my winter boots, my Asolo boots, and my trail runners. My snowshoes are also in the car and there is where they will stay. I choose my Asolo's as I am just not sure of the trail above 3300ft. I want something that will stand up to any rotten snow and can hold my hillsounds on them. Isis has her new harness on again and is ready to go.
At the Ross McKenney sign, we take a food break and Isis also gets some water from the last stream access. Things also get a little dirty as she's found something great to roll through. We are off and climbing and soon start running into others that are making their way up to the summit. Everyone is nice and very talkative today (this includes me too). I think it's time to make some changes in life and Moose offered a perfect platform to make some. Isis and I take our time making our way to tree line. The next break would be the first outlook. I've always liked the view from here even if today, it's a little hazy and clouds. The snow and ice have been intermittent and I'm cautiously making my way in places. The spikes finally come on just below tree line and are intermittent according to the conditions. While it's tempting to just wear them out, it's awkward to walk on them with no snow or ice.
Once we break tree line, the views are clearing up and there is minimal snow/monorail to deal with. Except when you enter into the less sunny areas in the scrub that seem to let the snow hang around. with 200ft to go to the summit, it's clear and the spikes come off again. I've been really peaceful this hike. Just letting everything go and enjoying the day. Thinking about what I have coming up in the future and my two big trips (a Pemi next weekend and then the LT in August). I'm present and I'm unshakable. Isis and I make our final approach and I get that classic view of the summit post. Everyone that passed us is sitting in one of the rock shelters and others are milling about. I am greeted by a man from Montreal who tells me this is his 42nd peak. I congratulate him and Isis begs for some love. There are no views towards the Presidentials but there are other views all around. As I talk to the gentleman from Montreal, I just take it all in. He asks me to take his picture and does the same for me. My seventh trip and I never get tired of a summit shot. We watch as others come and go and I literally breath in and feel that I am in the perfect place at the perfect time and that no matter how uncertain things can seem, I am on the right path.
We begin to make our way down the Carriage Road and over to South Peak on a beautiful and snow free walk. It's heating up so, the layer I put on at the summit came off as I continued down the Carriage Road. The monorail comes back but there is a corridor that I can walk next to it. I am thinking that this should be gone in about a week. We make it to the South Peak Junction and stop to chat with some other hikers. There's talk of the Grid and winter hiking. Isis gets a rest as we chat. Shortly after we get going again, the pant legs finally come off. It's been warming up as we go down so, again, off come the boots and the legs. We begin again and I dodge the rocks. This always makes me remember that in winter, I don't have to do this. and it's easier. Just colder. I'm careful not to roll my ankles and I wonder if I had my trail runners, if I role my ankle, would it be worse than in my Asolo's? One last section of snow by the rocks and we are free. The lower elevation of the Carriage road is clear. We hook on to the Snapper trail and soon realize that it'll be time to head home soon. Time to head back to everything soon. Can I go do Tecumseh and postpone?
There is not a whole lot of water on the upper part of the snapper but I know that Isis will get a drink soon enough. We really do not stop except when I run into another group of two and we chat about the controversy from last year when the cairns were toppled. Turns out he's the steward of the trails and seems to know who did it. I thanked him for doing such a good job and we continued. In the tree's it's cooler and I'm feeling strong. We hit the streams and round a corner and I crash to the ground. I rolled my ankle about as bad as I ever have and I need to pause to catch my breath. Instantly hoping I can bare weight on it and walk out and also hoping that I didn't just screw up my Pemi next weekend. My feet got tangled and I had fallen pretty awkwardly. I stood up and took a few steps in a little pain. I hope for the best as we kept walking... Slowly. Rounding out after the second to last bridge, I rolled it a few more times and each time I felt like I was letting next weekend slip away. Isis and I slowed way down and seeing as it was my right foot, I wondered what would happen after i took my boot off and drove home. This was an interesting end to a perfect day as we made it back to the Ravine Lodge and up to the road. This is such a beloved peak that I'm not even letting my ankle ruin the day.
Moosilauke is a peak that I always hike in times of transition or at times of firsts in my life. Today was a transition hike as I got use to trails without snow and boots that are a little more snug and a little heavier. It's a transition to a reaffirmed way of thinking that puts me first over anything else. I may not know the exact destination to my current trail but I do know that taking that fork in the road has lead me to be happier and feeling a little more healthy. I am eagerly looking forward to this new adventure in two weeks and then to my Pemi on memorial day weekend. The summer will be capped off with the Long Trail. So much to look forward to and such great heights to reach for.