Tour de Moose, Moosilauke, 8/18/14

As the school year approaches, Greg YEAH! and I found time for one more redlining/peakbagging adventure.  Our destination for the day was Moosilauke, hiking a loop up, over, down and around the Moose involving the Glencliff, Benton and Tunnel Brook Trails.  I had not hiked either Benton or Tunnel Brook Trails, so this would be new and different.

I pulled into the Glencliff parking lot and it was lightly raining.  So glad that I stopped back in Warren at a gas station and changed into pants instead of my cheap, light-weight Wal-mart running shorts!  Appropriately suited up for rain, we hit the trail.  Near the parking area, we met a thru-hiker, one I’d met in Maine.  He seemed to have had a nice time in the Whites, although the trip over Moosilauke was less than ideal.  We hiked onward and upward, catching up on week’s worth of adventures in various states from our different trips.  Soon, we were at the Carriage Road junction.  By this time, we were in the clouds, the temperature had dropped and it was definitely windier.  A few extra layers later and we were ready to go up to the summit.  Right before breaking out above tree line, we added winter hats and I added a pair of gloves.  Within a few minutes, the summit sign loomed out of the clouds and we stopped for a few minutes.

No views today from the summit of Moosilauke.

No views today from the summit of Moosilauke.

Greg YEAH! checking out the weather.  The windchill was below freezing, which can happen, even in August.

Greg YEAH! checking out the weather. The windchill was below freezing, which can happen, even in August.

Greg YEAH! had brought his hand-held weather station and got some wind measurements of sustained high 30mph to 40mph with higher gusts.  The windchill was 26 degrees F.  Yes, that’s below freezing.   I was really, really glad I wasn’t wearing the cheap shorts!!!  The lesson here:  the calendar might say August, but the summit weather might say November!  Always know the weather and be prepared with the appropriate gear when heading up to the higher summits.  We had the right gear and actually had fun and enjoyed the trip across the open summit above tree line.   Had we not brought extra layers, jackets and hats, it wouldn’t have been much fun at all, and potentially a problem.

Done playing in the wind, we headed over the summit and down the Benton trail, a new trail for me.  The Benton Trail is a little less used these days, due to the closure of Tunnel Brook Road sustaining damage after Hurricane Irene.  This makes the trail head an extra mile or so walk each way from the gated end of Tunnel Brook Road. Even with light use, the trail was in pretty good shape, with few blowdowns and not overly brushy or muddy.  It is a nice trail and had one particularly nice lookout to Little Tunnel Brook Ravine.  Right about that time, the weather system was moving out, revealing sunshine and blue skies.

Looking toward Mt. Wolf and the Kinsmans from a lookout on the Benton Trail.

Looking toward Mt. Wolf and the Kinsmans from a lookout on the Benton Trail.

Looking into Little Tunnel Ravine from a viewpoint on the Benton Trail.  Still cloudy up high!

Looking into Little Tunnel Ravine from a viewpoint on the Benton Trail. Still cloudy up high!

We made it to the trail head on Tunnel Brook Road, and got ready the final part of the adventure, Tunnel Brook Trail.  Neither of us had been there before, so we took a left and hiked down the road to see what was there.  The road ends in a sort of cul-de-sac or parking area.  From there it was hard to tell where to go.  We scouted the edges of the parking area and came across what looked like a forest road marker and then saw a small herd path through the foliage.  We followed that and in a minute or so, came to the actual trail head complete with sign and hiker marker.  This is certainly not visible from the parking area, at least not during summer when the foliage is dense and high.  I’m guessing during fall and winter, you might be able to see the signs.  Now that we found the trail, we followed it.

Tunnel Brook Road, this section is in pretty good shape.  We're guessing the damage is between the Benton trail head and the gate, further down the road in the opposite direction we went.

Tunnel Brook Road, this section is in pretty good shape, although the road has been closed since Irene due to damage between the gated end and the Benton trail head.

To get to the start of the Tunnel Brook trail from Tunnel Brook Road, follow the herd path to the left of the sign with 700A on it.  In a few minutes, you'll get to the start of the trail.

To get to the start of the Tunnel Brook trail from Tunnel Brook Road, follow the herd path to the left of the sign with 700A on it. In a few minutes, you’ll get to the start of the trail.

Here's the start of the Tunnel Brook Trail, hidden beyond the foliage.

Here’s the start of the Tunnel Brook Trail, hidden beyond the foliage.

The trail is reasonably level with easy grades, since it travels the ravine between Moosilauke and Clough.  We passed beaver ponds, and saw all the ledges and slides on Mt. Clough.  Eventually, we came to a campsite, where care was needed to find the trail.  It would appear that the trail goes straight ahead, although according to the guide and what we eventually found after some exploration, the trail actually takes a sharp right at the campsite and then crosses the brook and continues.  Further down, we passed more ponds with nice views up to South Moosilauke.  There were a few areas with detours around some of the more boggy areas where the trail used to be.  Soon we came to a reservoir.  After consulting the guide book, we realized we weren’t too far from the end, and would just have a reasonably short road walk back to the cars.

Slides on the side of Mt. Clough, which makes up one side of the Tunnel Brook Ravine.

Slides on the side of Mt. Clough, which makes up one side of the Tunnel Brook Ravine.

Beaver lodge, although we didn't actually see any beavers anywhere.

Beaver lodge, although we didn’t actually see any beavers anywhere.

Nice view up to the south peak of Moosilauke from Mud Pond.

Nice view up to the south peak of Moosilauke from Mud Pond.

Reservoir near the south end of Tunnel Brook Trail.

Reservoir near the south end of Tunnel Brook Trail.

The south end of Tunnel Brook Trail, near Glencliff.

The south end of Tunnel Brook Trail, near Glencliff.

It was a good tour of the Moose!  We had variety in weather from cold and windy to warm and sunny, and variety in terrain from above tree line to marshy beaver ponds and everything in between.   It nice to see parts of Moosiluake I hadn’t seen before and to great to get caught up with a friend while doing so.

Special thanks to Greg YEAH! for another fun and interesting day in the mountains!

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