Happy New Year

David at the summit.
David at the summit.

To welcome in the new year, as we have done so often before, I headed off with a group of friends to a cabin on the side of Mount Moosilauke in the core of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Great Bear Cabin is a cozy log structure nestled along the Appalachian Trail as it heads northward up the slopes of Moosilauke, and has become somewhat of a traditional winter outing for me and my kids. Although my kids were unable to attend this time, our party included three children and eight adults – friends for over thirty years – including one of the original builders of the cabin. With the woodstove roaring, and the woods frosted from a recent snowfall that glazed the trees and blanketed the nearby meadow with 10″ of fresh powder, we were cozy indeed.

On the morning of New Year’s Eve we stuffed ourselves with pancakes and sausage until the sun climbed over the ridge and the sky struck a deep blue chord. Although the thermometer clung to four degrees below zero, we geared up to climb the Glencliff Trail, noting that four or five hikers had already broken the trail ahead of us.  Nine-year-old Benjamin led the way, on his first-ever climb of this mountain so dear to all of us. Soon we reached the col where the Glencliff Trail joins the Carriage Road at the crest of the ridge connecting south and north peaks; Benjamin and his parents headed up the south peak while four others continued on for the main summit.

The ridge crossing was pleasant, with deep drifts of fresh powder and little or no wind. Once we left the ridge to climb the summit cone, we were exposed to the stiff west wind that had already sculpted fantastic drifts and canyons in the snow and constructed delicate frost feathers pointing west toward their creator. Though all ears and cheeks warned of frostbite, we reached the frosty summit, took a few photos, and sheltered in the old foundation stones of the long-gone Tip-Top House.  A light cloud cover enveloped the summit and dusted us with light snow as we descended the way we came.

Crossing the ridge, homeward.
Crossing the ridge, homeward.

Back at the cabin we enjoyed the warmth and fellowship of a cozy cabin, to celebrate the imminent arrival of the New Year.

Check out the rest of the photos at SmugMug.

Author: dfkotz

David Kotz is an outdoor enthusiast, traveller, husband, and father of three. He is also a Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College.

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