Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Mount Moosilauke For #48 Second Round

The weather forecast was calling for a windy day with unseasonably warm temps and a possibility of rain or snow showers in the afternoon. I would be joining up with fellow hikers Brian, Jill and Mark for a hike up Mount Moosilauke. Our route to the summit would be on the Snapper Trail and Gorge Brook Trail returning on the same trails. This summit would complete my second round of the 48 4,000 footers. It just so happens that Mount Moosilauke was #48 on my first round.

We would be meeting on the Ravine Lodge Road at 8:30. I was not sure if the road would be plowed and whether or not the gate would be locked. The last time I did this hike the road was not plowed and the gate was locked. There is a new lodge being built with ongoing construction being done. After driving over a very bumpy Route 118 with plenty of frost heaves I found the gate to Ravine Lodge Road open and the road was plowed. Even with all the recent snow the road was in very good shape, better than Route 118. About a mile in there was parking for hikers off the side of the road. This shortened the road walk considerably.

We all arrived at just about the same time. After gearing up we started the short road walk. We passed by the new lodge that is in the same spot as the old lodge. There are some hefty log beams being used for the frame and this is going to be a beautiful building. We climbed over a snow bank and headed down to the trailhead.

Just before crossing the first bridge I inadvertently found out how deep the snow was by stepping of the trail. I immediately sunk to my waist. Pulling myself out I crossed the bridge and we all put on some traction. I decided to put on my Hillsound Trail Crampons only because of the anti-balling feature that they have. My microspikes tend to have snow ball up on them when the snow is sticky and I was anticipating warm temps. Everyone else put microspikes on.

The trail was firmly packed and the traction was working great. We were leapfrogging with a group of skiers and snowboarders. At one point along the Gorge Brook Trail I stepped off the trail to let them by. I immediately started sinking in the snow. I kept going down and was chest-level deep when I put my poles across the hole and stopped sinking any further. I could feel nothing under my feet so I had not reached the bottom yet and didn't wish to find out how much deeper that would be. I pulled myself out of the hole with my poles. That was a very unnerving experience.

As the summit came into view there were very dark clouds above it. The closer we got the more the wind picked up. Wind gusts were blowing me off balance and I would have to catch myself in order to keep from being blown off my feet. I saw some people crawling on hands and knees near the top. It was the skiers and snowboarders group and it was a tough climb with the skis and snowboards catching the wind.

Wind gusts continued to pummel us right to the summit where we were greeted by a strong sustained wind and even stronger wind gusts. We were actually enjoying the wind. It was fun trying to stand in one spot without falling over and trying to see how far we could bend over into the wind. I think we were trying to see who would become airborne first. The one thing that wasn't fun was the occasional wind gust that would send shards of ice flying into our faces. It was also a challenge to take photos and get my summit panoramic video. We spent about five minutes on the summit then dropped down out of the sustained wind.

There were still the occasional wind gusts as we made our way across open terrain before descending into the trees. The trail was still solid even in the warmer temps so we continued with the same traction. It was a good trip down and we met many hikers coming up. Some were not dressed appropriately and definitely not prepared for the conditions they would be facing if they hiked to the summit. Mark took some time to advise them of the summit conditions and to maybe rethink trying to reach the summit.

Back at the trailhead we took off our traction for the short road walk to the parking area. The wind was picking up and the temperature was dropping. We thought certainly the winds had to have gotten stronger on the summit.

With the return to the parking area I completed my second round of the 48 4,000 footers. I can now add Moosilauke to my February summits and this was also #27 for my Winter 48. With only one more month of winter remaining it's apparent that I will not complete my W48 this year but there's time to add a few more.

Enjoy the photos!

 Clouds above the Presidential summits on the drive to the trailhead

 The hike starts here

Brian stating something is "this big" with his hands

 First view from the Gorge Brook Trail

 Franconia Ridge in the distance

 Franconia Ridge closer

Mark moving up the trail

 Ravine Lodge under construction far below

 View of South Peak

 The summit is in sight

 Difficult to read but basically a reminder to stay on the trail

 Final push to the summit with a strong wind building

 Looking back to better skies

Cannon and Kinsmans in the near distance and Franconia Ridge beyond

 On the Gorge Brook Trail above treeline

On the very windy summit of Mount Moosilauke

Jill capturing the windy scene

 Brian trying to fly

 Mark taking off into a headwind

 Snowboarder behind me keeping a low profile against the wind

A view toward South Peak

The summit is just below the clouds

 Mark starting the descent from the summit

 Mark is down off the summit

 A couple of happy dogs

 We're all down off the summit

 Descending through a frozen forest

South Peak

Jill and Mark descending on the Gorge Brook Trail

 The town of Lincoln far below

 The hole I slipped into that didn't have a bottom

 Back at the beginning

 New Ravine Lodge under construction

Looking back up at Mount Moosilauke

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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