Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Moosilauke: #26/48 WNH4K 01-14-2014

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Mooselauke via Glencliff and Moosilauke Carriage Road trails              Wednesday Jan 14 2014

Trails: Glencliff and Moosilauke Carriage Road trails,  7.8 miles.
Elevation 4800’,  Elevation gain 3,384, Book time 5.5 hrs, My time 8:15 (0700 – 1530)

I haven’t hiked since a failed attempt of Baldpate Mt Maine in November.  This is my first official winter peak this season.   Being out of shape I wanted a single peak hike.  Mooselauke was actually my second all-season hike in November of 2011The trails I used then would have required extra miles of road hike due to the road to Ravine Lodge being closed in the winter.  The weather was colder than this fair-weather-hiker prefers. It was at least 5 below at the trailhead but got up to a comfortable 20 degrees by mid-morning - but very windy and cold on the last ½ mile open alpine area. It took me five hours to get to the peak, mainly due to my lack of being in shape on the steeper sections (which weren’t really that steep compared to most of my other hikes).  I saw no one going up, but just after summiting, two hikers  who had started 2 hours earlier than me had caught. Coming down I crossed 3 sets of two hikers coming up. Pretty crowded for a cold winter midweek day. Mooselauke is actually a very popular peak and is the favorite of the New Hampshire 4,000 ft peaks for many hikers. Great views at the top with no real scrabbles; but she is infamous for being very windy at the top. 

 My trail condition report from Views From The Top (VFTT):

Parking: Trailhead lot was plowed & was being sanded just after I arrived at 7am. Room for maybe a dozen cars, but empty when I arrived

Trail Conditions: Glencliff: Well traveled, no deep snow, mostly boot traffic. All crossings bridged or easy step–overs. A few iced sections but soft enough to traverse with light traction. No trees across trails all the way to the top. Only a few inches of snow on the side of trail at the bottom and only about a foot near the top.
Mooselauke Carriage Road from Glencliff: Well packed snowboard/snow shoe track up to the tree line. It looks like the snowboard tracks continue down the Carriage Rd trail. Above the tree line hard wind packed snow and solid,but horizontal ice. Most of the path through the cairns was solid ice between the two rows of stones.

Special Equipment Required: Light traction would work all the way to Carriage Rd but crampons would not be over-kill for the steeper sections. I’d recommend snowshoes on carriage road if only so as to not disrupt the snow board track, but light traction would work. Ice above tree line would require some kind of traction.

Comments: Very cold and windy above the tree line. I couldn’t figure out what the tracks on the Carriage Road were at first. Too smooth and a bit narrow for snowshoes. Too wide for skis. Then coming down I saw a snow boarder hiking up toward the summit then turning around 100 yards short of the summit and snowboarding down. The track I saw turned out to be two parallel tracks from separate snowboard runs.

I was told later that the Mooselauke Carriage Road trail is a popular trail for skiers and snowboarders to hike up and ski down.  That’s  five mile hike up with over 3000’ of elevation gain for one run. Impressive!

I also found out later that the Carriage Road route may have been a better trail for me.  Slightly longer than Glencliff but less steep.  

Though uncomfortably short of breath on the steeper sections, I did manage the cold weather pretty good on this hike, particularly for my hands which usually give me a problem when I have to take gloves off for changing between micro-spikes and snowshoes. I’m now using various combination of two sets of glove liners,  gloves and mitts.

Thermometer I left in the back of the truck confirmed the -5 degrees reported for the trailhead
Note my camera time stamp is about an hour off. I started at 0700 not 0800

Not much snow down low -less than 6". Trail well broken out with boot traffic. I used micro-spikes
all the way up Glencliff trail to Carriage Rd.

 Snow near the top of Glencliff trail was a little deeper, about 1 ft. Not very deep for this time of year. The last section of Glencliff has some fairley steep sections but still is not a scramble.
 Reached the junction with Mooselauke Carriage Road. There was once a hotel on top of Mooselauke and this was the access road. I changed to snow shoes here and left them on for half the way down.
  Glencliff and the section of Carriage Rd up to the peak are part of the AT (Appalachian Trail). This is only about .9 miles from the peak. The rest of the track to the top is a very easy grade. The first half is drifted wind packed snow path cut through the drifts by snowboarders. ...
The second second half is a path is a treeless path of solid ice between two rows of stones following large cairns to the top. the rows of stones are intended to keep hikers from walking on the fragile alpine vegetation in the summer.

  Mt Mooselauke peak at the site of the old hotel. Following is a few pictures I took from the top. Though very cold and windy at the top, the sky was fairly  clear with great views.

 I was just about to take a selfie for a peak picture when two other hikers came up behind me. I had one of them take this picture.  They had started at 9am - two hours after me.
 Franconia Ridge and the Presidents .

 Back on the Glencliff trail.  On the way up I hadn't realized there were some good views behind me.
  The beginning of Glencliff trail is actually a road passing between some fields.

    Back at the trailhead (~1530 not 16:12) trailhead is well marked, off of Highland rd off  NH25
Temperature had warmed up to 25 at the trailhead by the time I finished.