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Restorative Moosilauke

Today was the last hike for my Fall season and I chose Mount Moosilauke which is always a favorite (it was my first ever 4K peak). Route 118 heading to Ravine Rd was in great shape and even though the roads were wet, there was no black ice to deal with as I climbed in elevation. Heck, there was no snow to deal with... Old Man Winter is still on vacation. Hope he remembers where he needs to be for Monday night. I arrived at Ravine Rd which is of course gated now. This will add a 1.6 mile road walk to actually get to the trails by the DOC's Ravine Lodge. I parked facing out at the edge of the road and began the road walk. In all truthfulness, this is not a bad walk and with no snow cover, it's really easy. Isis has no issues and I set a pace to enjoy the day. The clouds were low and the road was fogged in for most of it. It took about a half hour to get to the lodge were I began seeing  breaks of blue sky. After a quick stop for some food, I hit the actual trails. 

After passing by all the new bunk houses and crossing the bridge, I'm climbing on wet rocks heading up the Snapper Trail. There is water flowing on the trail and it's warm. It's so warm that I loose a few layers. It takes no time to reach the junction for Gorge Brook trail. Since this trail was relocated after some storm damage, I have absolutely enjoyed making my way to the summit on Gorge Brook. It's a pleasant hike through an old birch glade. There are 2 bridges over water as well. One needs some work but is still very much passable. I take my next break at 3300 feet at the Last Sure Water Sign and Plaque. It's still early in the morning but I crack into the cheese and salami. From here until tree line, I'm going to be gaining a lot of elevation so, the energy is needed. My next landmark is the first outlook and I am eager to see it as I'm tracking blue skies. Isis is having a great hike and playing all the way up the trail. Gorge Brook trail is still just wet and easy to maneuver. The forest is so green still with a major lack of snow. I finally start to meet the cloud I've been chasing and put my winter shell back on but no hat or gloves yet. 

Arriving at the first outlook, I am hopeful for something of a cloud show on the summit. It's beautifully moody today as I take a break here. I also remind myself that this is Moose... The summit has a 98% chance of clouds... Always. Continuing on, I begin to encounter ice around 3640Ft. It's not bad and easily avoided. My pace does not slow as I make a push to tree line. At about 4000ft, the Microspikes go on. I am walking in and out of the cloud and I can also feel the sun as I approach tree line. Finally breaking through and I'm not only on an ice rink of a trail, I'm stuck in the cloud. It's classic Moose today. I push to the summit and have little to no issues (except for ice).

It smells like Christmas in places as I walk through the scrub and pine. Crossing the grass and making the final 200 Ft push to the summit post, Isis gets sight on another hiker. The first person I have run into today. He's come up Beaver Brook and we chat at the summit. Exchange phones for summit pictures and then he's very quickly off and heading back the way he came. The wind is picking up and it is cold at 4802Ft. I waste little time to get on the Carriage Road trail myself and promise food at the junction for South Peak. Again, I am walking over ice and on occasion crashing through with the sound of broken glass or stepping into water under ice. Not long after the summit, I encounter two more hikers that have come up Glen Cliff. We chat about the unusual weather and lack of snow and then begin hiking down again. I again see movement in the clouds and blue skies peaking out. I decide a trip to South Peak is in order. At the junction, it's .1 to the summit. Piece of cake except for a little ice that trips me up once. Breaking out to the summit, I am greeted to a moving under and over cast. I am in and out of the cloud and in awe of everything I see.

After about 15 minutes, I head back to the Carriage Road and continue to descend. Gradually, the temps rise, the layers come off again, and the ice dissipates. I take off my spikes and continue on bare boots. Seems to take no time to get to the Snapper Trail and in-between South Peak and this junction, I noted a lot of moose tracks and fresh poop. I didn't see any moose though. The snapper trail passes uneventfully but in the shade of the trees, I become cold so the layers go back on and stay there until I reach the car. I had taken one break at the Ravine Lodge again before making quick work of the road walk. I arrive back and I'm on my way to coffee well before sunset. Today has been a great choice to end my Fall season for 2015 and a great way to refocus myself. Also another enjoyable day out with my 4 legged best friend who rocks this loop all the time. My next hike will be officially a Winter hike... But will winter actually get here?

Well, that had to have been the most boring blog I have written... Personally, for those that are new to reading, I (usually) write from a place a lot more personal. I started this blog to chronicle my return from an illness that had sidelined me while I under went testing (including 2 months of cancer testing) and eventually found myself back in good health through a lot of lifestyle changes. It's why I started hiking to begin with. Not for lists but for health. Second to my recovery is how I manage anxiety and depression. It has always been my hope that this blog might inspire some to hike themselves to a better more healthy life and that they might find inspiration in my story as I present both the difficulty and the successes. But you know, on a Monday to end all Mondays (Dead car and mounting stress from "Life"), I was also informed that this is a train wreck... Don't judge me until you actually know me (in person) and have hiked even a tenth of a mile in my boots. I'm a hell of a lot stronger than people know and I believe that we should all help one another, rather than continue to cut one another down for offering advice or expressing concerns.  

I am so looking forward to Winter... If the weather plays nice, I'll be looking to finally complete my Winter 48 on Mount Adams New Years Day. Not to worry, I'll be back to my original formate next hike... Until then, Happy Hiking however you choose to do so. 

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