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.
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.
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!
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.