Member Trip report
Mount Moosilauke Hike (NH)
Trip Report/Photos from shep5
On Saturday, November 18th, I decided to head up to the White Mountains to hike Mt. Moosilauke. My intent was to do the loop around the north and south peaks via the old Gorge Brook Slide Trail. With Route 118 finally re-opened after the storm damage, I headed up. I arrived at the Ravine Lodge Road at just before 7AM and noticed that the gate was still open even though the lodge was now closed for the season. The road was icy and snow covered, but it had been sanded. Once I got to the lodge I got ready and headed to the trailhead. At the trail I noticed a sign, that stated that the trails were closed for public use until further notice (the bridge over the Baker River had been damaged). I had to come up with a Plan B, so I just decided to head back up to Kinsman Notch and hike Mt. Moosilauke from the Beaver Brook Trail.
So I drove up to the AT crossing on Route 112. I arrived at the trailhead parking lot at about 7:30AM and since I was already to go, I immediately headed for the trail. There were a couple other cars in the lot and they were still getting ready, so I would be the first up the trail for the day. The day started out sunny, but clouds were moving in from the west by the time I got to the trailhead (the peaks were all visible on the ride up though). It was a chilly start in the 20's; however, it was forecast to be in the 30's during the day even above 4000 feet.
I hit the trail and there was roughly 3-5 inches of snow on the ground. There were footprints from presumably the day before. I crossed a couple of bridges and had to a couple of minor water crossings initially along the route. It was only 10 minutes into the hike that I encountered a small section of trail on the bank, that had completely washed out. This required a delicate jump across the 3-foot gap, as the bank was about 15-20 feet up from the brook at this point. Anyway, with that, I continued along. Almost immediately after leaving the forest protection zone, the trail began its steep climb along the Beaver Brook. It had been years since I had done the trail and this was a first in winter conditions. I recalled that it was generally slippery due to moss, but with the snow cover it was not too bad. I bare-booted it, as the footing was decent. As the trail paralleled the brook, there were wonderful ice covered cascades and spectacular waterfalls. At points along the trail, there were views looking out at the Kinsman Ridge and further up out to the Franconia Ridge. I reached the spur trail for the Beaver Brook Shelter by 9:15. There were a few spots of blowdowns in this area and the trail's grade moderated just a bit until I got to the junction with the Ridge Trail. Also any sign of footprints was gone from this point on. The trail was somewhat easier as the trail began to meander a bit as it circled to the south and west of Mt. Blue. Along the way there was a limited view over the Jobildunc Ravine towards the eastern arm of Moosilauke. After continuing along this ridge, the trail than climbed modestly past a nice view of the summit and then up to the trail junction with the Benton Trail. I reached this junction at 10:35. It was only another 10 minutes until I entered the alpine zone and popped out of the woods. The winds up on the exposed portion of the mountain were gusting up to 25-30 mph. Luckily, the views were great despite the cloud cover. Mt. Washington was clearly in view as were all the other peaks. It was pretty amazing! I headed for the top and reached the summit sign (4802') at 10:55. Up on the top I was alone, but noticed that there was a hiker coming up from the Gorge Brook Trail. I hung around to chat with him about the conditions that he had encountered. He ignored the signs and used the trails anyway. He said the trails were good, but that he had to cross the Baker River further downstream where it widened out.
After about 20 minutes on the summit, I decided it was time to start back. This was pretty easy, as I was just re-tracing my steps back along the same trail, that I took up. I began to encounter a few other hikers who had come up behind me, but there were maybe only a half dozen as I made my way back to the junction with the Ridge Trail. Here, out of the wind, I decided to have a snack before tackling the steeper section of the descent. It was 12:10. I had thought about putting on my microspikes for better footing, but decided just to take it slow. I reached the Beaver Brook Shelter spur again by 12:30 and thought I'd check it out quickly. The lean-to was just a short distance and there was a nice view from the shelter to the Franconia Ridge. The trail from here was slow. As I got within a mile of the trailhead, I was surprised to find a number of hikers who were just starting up for the summit. It was already just after 1PM at this point. Anyway, I continued the steep descent and checked out some of the larger falls along the way. I finally, reached my car again by just before 2PM.
It turned out to be a fantastic day with great views despite the high cloud cover for most of the latter part of the day. Even with the winds on the exposed portion of the hike, the temperatures were balmy compared to the previous weekend! The Beaver Brook Trail was slow and challenging, but it was manageable and well worth the effort...I hadn't remembered all the spectacular falls along the brook.
Total mileage and elevation gain: 7.8 miles with approximately 3000 feet in elevation gain.
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