Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mount Moosilauke for #48

A BIG day today! I was hiking #48 on the list of New Hampshire's 4,000 footers. On March 31, 2012 I began this adventure on Mount Waumbek (4,006') for #1. Now 2 years, 7 months and 22 days later I was on my way to completing #48 on Mount Moosilauke (4,802') via the Gorge Brook Trail. The weather forecast was for cold temps, partly sunny skies and diminishing winds. I've learned to take these weather reports with a grain of salt and be prepared for anything. Fellow hikers Denise and Jill would be joining me again for this exciting day.

 Sun coming over the mountain as the hike begins

 Gate closed adding 1.6 miles each way

 Baker River

The last thing to be packed into the vehicle before departing for the trailhead was a large, 12-inch, chocolate chip cookie in the shape of mountaintops with "Congratulations #48" written in frosting that was a surprise from my wife Pam...very cool looking! I was on my way at 5:20 am. Now a drive to Mount Moosilauke would not be complete without a close encounter with a moose. The head of the moose was hanging out in the road and a slight swerve managed to avoid contact.

 Ice steps

 Icy trail

I drove on to pick up Denise at 5:45. We met Jill in Lincoln at 7:00 and found out she also had a close moose encounter on her drive across the Kancamagus Highway. Our next stop was the trailhead. We arrived at Ravine Lodge Road to find the gate was locked for the winter season, it was open a week ago. That would add another 1.6 miles each way for a total round trip hike of 10.6 miles.

Ascending the Gorge Brook Trail

 First view

The morning was cold and we layered up. The sun was just coming over the mountain as we began our hike down the Ravine Lodge Road. I can understand why the gate was closed, it would have been a very icy drive into the trailhead. As we approached the lodge I looked down and noticed some fairly fresh bear tracks. The comment was made that one only had to be faster than the slowest person in the group if we should see the bear.

Denise and Jill on their way up the Gorge Brook Trail

Shortly after crossing the bridge over the Baker River we turned right onto the Gorge Brook Trail and started our ascent. Denise was the first to put on the microspikes. Jill and I put the spikes on a little further up. It was an easy climb and as we got higher the snow increased both on the trail and in the trees. There was an occasional gust of wind but nothing to indicate what we were really going to experience on the summit.

 Moosilauke Ravine Lodge far below

 Ravine Lodge zoomed

The trail started offering up some scenic views through the trees and an occasional open view. As we got closer to the summit the trees were completely encrusted in snow and ice. It was an amazing sight! The trail was packed down and I would estimate that there was never more than 6 inches of snow depth. We brought snowshoes but they stayed behind in the vehicle and were never needed.

 Moosilauke summit in sight

 Final push to the summit

 Mount Washington

As the trees got shorter the wind picked up. Moving into the open areas really got our attention. Denise decided to stay next to a group of trees that were blocking some of the wind as Jill and I made the final dash to the top. The wind was very strong at the summit making it difficult to stand in one spot without being pushed about. There would be no summit celebration. We stayed long enough to get photos and a panoramic video then dropped back down the trail about 50 yards to get out of the direct wind. We got one more photo of my #48 sign then joined Denise down below.

Bundled up against the wind

 Mount Moosilauke summit sign

There was no time wasted in starting our descent and we were ready to get out of the unrelenting wind. As we reached the treeline the wind diminished and we hiked halfway down before stopping for a snack and a little celebrating. Denise had packed a bottle of sparkling cider but we decided to drink it back at the parking area so I put it in my pack for the rest of the trip down. Jill made some cookies in the shape of a 48, and a moose complete with moose poop pellets. She had also made a congratulations sign. We soon continued our descent.

 Very windy

 Summit #48

 Ice encrusted cairn

It was a good trip down and back at the parking area we popped open the sparkling cider and ate some of the 12" mountain cookie that I had kept in the vehicle. This was a good finish for my #48 summit hike. We met many hikers along the way so this appeared to be a popular destination today. The closed gate and road walk did not seem to deter anyone.

 Into the frozen forest

 South Peak

 Denise brought the sparkling cider...Thanks Denise!

When I first started hiking I was not aware of the 48 4,000 footer list. After learning of this list I completed my first 4,000 footer and was hooked. My youngest son Brandon began the quest with me and it was great to have him along but his interests turned to other pursuits. I'm available and willing to join him when he is ready to continue where he left off. While most of my hikes were done solo it was also nice to have Denise and Jill join me on several hikes, both of them having previously completed their 48 4,000 footers. Every hike has been an adventure. It's a great feeling to be a part of this hiking community!

Big mountain cookie...Thanks Pam!

 Jill's 48 and moose with poop cookies...Thanks Jill!

 My sign with photos of the 48 summits

View of Mount Washington on the drive from the trailhead.

Today we had a most excellent hike to Mount Moosilauke for my #48! Now on to the next adventure!

A snowy Gorge Brook Trail

Panoramic view from the summit of Mount Moosilauke

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!


  1. Great finish Don! Love that you got views, as you probably know my first 4000ft was the Moose w\Jill and we had NO views at all! I did hike it again in conditions much like yours and got the views award. You are so awesome! Love all your pics that you have shared while on your quest. Now will you continue for your 67 highest? Its a you know being friends w\Jill!

    1. Thanks JoAnne! It will be a slow slog for the 67 highest, mainly because of the driving. Not sure what's next, maybe a few winter 4k's...when the weather is nice and the trails are packed down!