Late winter on Moosilauke

2014-03-29-06188Only two days left in March, but Moosilauke still has 2-3 feet of snow at the base, and 4-5 feet along the ridgeline. Andy (12) and I hiked to the summit via the Glencliff trail today.  With sunny weather in the forties at the trailhead, the snowpack was soft and wet, eager to swallow any foot that strayed from the trail packed by hundreds of hikers before us. The warm March sunshine allowed for a comfortable hike, no hat no gloves. High on the slopes of south peak we finally caught some views to the west; indeed, I had a great view down into the Tunnel Brook valley and even spotted a person standing on Mud Pond where I’d skied just six days ago.

2014-03-29-06200As we reached the Carriage Road trail junction and the ridgeline, we climbed into the clouds. The temperatures were still above freezing, though only barely, and as we crossed the ridge and climbed above treeline the wind picked up and the ambient temperature dropped. We could barely see from one cairn to the next, but Andy was so enthralled by the rime ice that we took our time.  We met six backcountry skiers at the summit, and explored the cloudy terrain for a while before heading for home.

2014-03-29-06258The soft wet snow, four feet deep along the upper reaches of the trail, provided great opportunities for butt-sledding and made for a quick descent. Four hours up, less than two hours down. Great day!

See a few of my favorite photos.

Tunnel Brook

David skis across the ponds along the Tunnel Brook trail.
David skis across the ponds along the Tunnel Brook trail.

One of the classic ski tours on Mount Moosilauke is the Tunnel Brook trail, which climbs over a low north-south valley along the west flanks of Mount Moosilauke.  It follows Tunnel Brook upslope for several miles, continuing straight as the brook heads left up into the steep-walled Tunnel Brook Ravine.  (Last summer I completed that classic bushwhack route to the summit, discovering an incredible slide created by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011; see trip report.)  Today I had the good fortune to ski this route under a sunny sky and with fantastic ski conditions. Continue reading Tunnel Brook

Lafayette

I decided it was high time I climbed Mount Lafayette, having bracketed it on the previous three Sundays. Three weeks ago I skied the slopes near Moosilauke, to the south; two weeks ago I skied and climbed to the summit of Owl’s Head, to the east; one week ago I hiked to Lonesome Lake, to the west. (Not to mention hiking the Kinsmans last October.) Each time I looked longingly at Lafayette, the queen of Franconia ridge all white with winter splendor, I felt the urge to get back up there before winter ends. Continue reading Lafayette