A Two Moose Day: Moosilauke, 4.15.12

It was my turn to hike this weekend and because I needed a fairly close and shorter hike due to the AMC 4,000 Footer Club awards ceremony in the evening, I chose to hike Moosilauke.  I got up early and headed to Glencliff, NH and the trailhead for the Glencliff trail.

I was on the trail by 7:15a, quickly passing the empty fields, crossing a small stream and heading into the woods.  Enjoying the cool temperatures while gaining a little altitude, I was hiking up past a stream on my right when I heard some crashing in the brush and realized I was not alone.  Quickly finding the source of the sound, I saw a large bull moose across the stream from me.  He saw me, too, and for a few moments we watched each other carefully around the trees.  Then we both decided it was time to move on – me up the trail and him off to do whatever moose do early in the morning.  What a great way to start the day, and I knew I’d have a great hike no matter what lay ahead on the trail.

So far, the trail was nice and easy – no ice, no snow, not even mud.  It was a joy to hike with my feet on the trail, being able to feel the dirt and rocks underfoot.  (I’m sure my opinion will change long about October when I’ll be happy for the snow to return, but for now, I’m enjoying what bare trail there is.)  Somewhere around 2500 feet, trail conditions changed, with the appearance of patchy ice and snow and soon I was at the first ice flows.  I added some microspikes for traction and they did well for the remainder of the hike.  There were many ice flows and some quite impressive, although some were starting to melt and break up.  Some were deep enough that mini crevasses were opening up, and it was stunning as to how much ice actually built up over the winter.

One of the ice flows along the Glencliff Trail.

Quite a bit of ice build up here!

Past the icy section, the snow depth started to increase, but nothing that required snowshoes, so the snowshoes stayed on the pack getting a free ride for the day.  Between my hiking up and the sun rising, soon the sunlight streamed onto the trail.   Passing the sunny talus slope, I knew I was close the Carriage Road junction.  In a just a few more minutes I was there and taking a break, getting ready for the last section to the summit.  For a while, I had been hearing the wind in the trees, but it was  pretty mild for Moosilauke standards, definitely less than 20 mph.  Would that get worse when I got into the open, I wasn’t sure, but I made sure my jacket and over mitts were ready just in case.  I headed up the Carriage Road, enjoying the expanding views all around.  Once in the open, I needed just the jacket, so ducking behind a cairn, I quickly put it on and then finished the last section to the summit.  Today’s views were nice with a view to the Franconias and Presidentials beyond, with spring snow still clinging to the summits.   Out to the west, the ski slopes of Vermont were still able to be seen covered in snow.

A look ahead to the summit from the Carriage Road with clouds that look like they were painted on with a brush.

A nice view from the summit of the Franconias and Presidentials.

One of Vermon's ski areas in the distance to the west.

After enjoying the summit, it was time to head back down the Carriage Road and after a quick stop at the junction, time to descend the Glencliff Trail.  Up to this point, I had seen no one and was enjoying the solitude of the having the trail mostly to myself.   Just past the talus slope, I saw my first person of the day.  We exchanged a little trail info, including the fact that we both saw the bear tracks on the trail below, and that I had seen a moose earlier.  Heading down the trail, I met quite a few groups on their way up – in total, probably 25 people or more, plus a few dogs.    The temps were getting warmer, too.  By the time I got the car at noon, it was in the mid-60’s!

A little late morning sunshine on the upper portion of the Glencliff trail.

Overall, I had a great two moose day: being able to see a real moose and being able to enjoy the morning views from the summit of Moosilauke.


6 thoughts on “A Two Moose Day: Moosilauke, 4.15.12

  1. Hi Summerset,

    Wow! That photo of the ice flow on the Glencliff Trail is impressive. And, what a thrill it must have been to be in such close proximity to a moose. Every time I see a full grown moose (which isn’t that often) while hiking, I’m just blown away by their massive size. It’s almost like encountering a horse (albeit with a funny-looking head) along the trail.

    Thanks for posting another interesting report!


  2. Thanks, John! I don’t see but a few moose every year, and usually from the car. It was certainly exciting to see one reasonably close.

  3. Nothing like a moose on the Moose to make for a great day! We’ve yet to meet one on the trail. From across the stream seems like the perfect place. 🙂

    John’s right – those ice flows are amazing! Crampon territory.

    Thanks for sharing another great journey.


  4. Thanks Mark! Seeing the moose was very cool! The ice looks more dramatic than it was – but of course, personal comfort/safety levels will dictate what traction you think it necessary.

  5. It’s hard to believe there is still snow and ice flows up there. It’s been so nice and warm down here in the seacoast region, that I just assume up there is the same way. I suppose it goes to show you that it’s been way too long since I last made my way up there.

    It’s so awesome that you saw a bull moose. I’ve been totally mooseless in all my hikes and I’m dying to see one. I suppose it will happen when I least expect it!

    Was that the first time you’ve been up the Glencliff? I’ve never been up the west side of the mountain before. I’ve heard it is nice. I did approach the summit from the Carriage Road, however, but via Gorge and Snapper. I love that approach up the ridge!

    Very nice report, Summerset!


  6. Karl – Thank you! Yes, it is easy to forget that there is still snow in the higher elevations when it is spring everywhere else! This was the third time I’ve been up Glencliff; I’ve been up via Gorge Brook twice, too. My husband says to take the Benton Trail next time, so I will. The Carriage Road is such a great approach with the summit out there in front of you.

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