Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Hiking the Carter Moriah Trail to Mount Moriah

After yesterday's winds the weather was looking a little more favorable although still cold. The temperature at the house as I was leaving read -5°F and I could see scattered clouds through the dark sky. Now I've gone hiking enough to know that the weather conditions at the house are no indication of what they will be on the trail. A good rule of thumb is to be prepared for the unexpected. Today's hike would take me up the Carter-Moriah trail to Mount Moriah. The last time hiking this trail was on a nice Fall day in October 2013.

 Waning gibbous moon seen from the trailhead

 Mount Adams and Mount Madison

 Mount Washington

 First of many blowdowns

Today was not going to be a Fall day and the trail was going to be a little less friendly but not too bad. I arrived at the Bangor Street parking area and two more vehicles pulled in behind me for a total of three hikers that I would be following up the trail today. As I was gearing up an eagle flew directly over me, a nice start to the day! I was wondering if the others would be taking snowshoes. Two carried them and one didn't, we all had microspikes on. I decided to carry my snowshoes, just in case. It was cold as I walked to the trailhead but no wind.

 Pine Mountain

 Steep climb

 A brief glimpse of sun


The trail was well broken out and the microspikes worked well. I reached the first ledge outlook and was rewarded with a spectacular view of Mount Adams and Mount Madison. The path out to the ledge was not well broken so I ventured out just far enough for a quick photo and returned to the trail. There were great views to the Presidentials as I climbed up past the exposed ledges.

 Another blowdown

 and another blowdown

 Many more blowdowns ahead of me

Further up the trail there were numerous blowdowns to contend with, some were tricky but all were manageable. The snow on the upper part of the trail was soft and loose but the microspikes were doing their job even on the steep ledge sections that were wet the last time I was here. The trail conditions never did change all the way to the summit.

 No tracks on the Carter-Moriah Trail beyond here

I stepped up onto the summit ledge and the 360° views were fantastic. Even with a high cloud cover there were unobstructed views to all of the distant peaks in every direction. There was a slight breeze blowing with a mild bite. The temperature was 10°F and it doesn't take much wind to make it feel colder. I stayed long enough to get my usual panoramic video and some photos. I could hear hikers talking below me on the Stony Brook Trail but I never did see them. I saw a total of five hikers all day and that was on the Carter-Moriah Trail. I had the summit to myself. The chill was starting to seep through and telling me it was time to start my descent.
 Almost there!

 Enjoying the summit views

I made a hasty descent below the summit to try and warm up the toes and fingers before stopping for something to eat. My layers were damp with sweat so I changed to dry ones and my Primaloft jacket. I am going to change to a different hydration system for winter hiking after this. The bladder and hose has become quite useless. Even when clearing the hose after drinking it has been freezing up on the last two hikes. I had a large bottle of Gatorade and a thermos of hot tea but I still ended up with some thigh cramps on the way down that I attribute to not drinking enough and probably not eating enough. I will definitely remedy that on the next and future hikes.

Back at the trailhead

Down at the trailhead I removed my microspikes for the short walk back to the parking lot. The hike itself seemed to be tougher than usual on me. Not sure if it was the cold, my cold toes, frozen water, or the weight of the snowshoes getting a free ride, probably a combination of all of those things. It still turned out to be a very good day for hiking with a round trip hike time of 6.5 hours. Another hike added to my completed winter 4k list!

Panoramic view from Mount Moriah

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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