Mark, Andy and I hiked Mount Moosilauke this past Sunday. We didn’t expect much from this hike – we had all done it before. The only reason we were doing this mountain at all was because it was close, daylight was limited and a storm was due to roll in at 3 pm. Isn’t it weird how the best hikes are the ones where you have no expectations?
This is one of my favorite signs in all of New England, the last line “…To Avoid Tragic Results.” They are not joking. There is a section on this hike next to a waterfall that is steep, narrow and slippery. Iron bars are there to assist you up but it’s a dangerous stretch. Don’t bring kids.
It was warm for a late December day – mid 40s in Boston and high 20s on the mountain. I felt stupid for bringing so many clothes, a first. I hiked the majority of it in a short sleeve shirt and a shell. The beginning of Moosilauke is steep so both Andy and I sweat through our shirts quickly. Even Mark, being half-reptile, sweat for the first time since the 4th grade.
This warmth was a contrast to the first time we climbed Moosilauke, which was the coldest goddamn hike I’ve ever done. I remember being in the parking lot back then, hearing the wind howling at 1,800 feet and thinking, “Damn, it’s going to be cold at the top.” It was 9 degrees.
We had two other people join us on that climb. It was both their first time doing a hike in the winter. One of the guys had gloves he bought at Wal-Mart and I remember him saying, “I can’t feel my hands.” They haven’t joined us for a hike since. You can see photos of that hike here.
Above the treeline visibility extended forever. In this photo Mount Lafayette and Mount Lincoln are to the left. Beyond them and not visible in the photo is Mount Washington. Given that it was 26 degrees, it felt downright balmy.
At the top we were joined by a family who brought along a team of dogs, making Moosilauke summit a temporary dog park. Right after this photo was taken, they arrived with their two other Saint Bernards. With three Saint Bernards and one little mutt, I’m going to guess they own about 370 pounds of dog.
What is it about mysterious people arriving at the summit of mountains? Before the dog team showed up, an older woman wearing jeans and looking like she was out for a pleasant Sunday stroll approached us on the summit. Neither Andy or I remember her even wearing a backpack. I don’t get it. Mountains are cold and dangerous and jeans are the worst thing in the world in snow.
The descent was quick with us sledding down portions of it. We were all a bit spent at the end. I fell asleep in the back of Andy’s car with Baxter lying all over me. When I got home I slept straight through from 10 pm to 7 am without waking once. There is something tremendously satisfying about that.