Moosilauke in early winter

A gorgeous sunny day on Moosilauke, with an undercast across Vermont and southern New Hampshire. Deep snow, temps in 20s, no wind – amazing day!

I’d heard that the mountains were in “full winter conditions” already.  I finally had a chance to check it out today.  What I found was astonishing – deep powder snow like mid-winter, but in November!   (Ok, today is December 1st, but it’s also November 31st, and I’m gonna go with that.) Be sure to check out the photos, and read on for more!2018-12-01-61563.jpg

2018-12-01-61545I headed up to Mount Moosilauke’s Glencliff trailhead, under dismally cloudy skies. The forecast had given me hope of a mid-day sunny period, with pleasant temperatures in the 20s all the way up, so I pressed on.  There was a foot or more of snow at the trailhead, with many inches of powder.  The trail was well-packed by earlier hikers, though after passing several groups I found myself following only one snowshoer who’d clearly broken trail this morning, and one bare-booter who postholed in his tracks.  I was thankful for their work breaking trail, as the snow depth increased to two feet, three feet, or (in drifts) perhaps as much as four feet.  Every tree was coated with snow, with the firs weighed down by huge heffalumps.*  As I climbed above 3500′ the sun came out and the sky above was deep blue.  This was going to be an awesome day!

2018-12-01-61669I reached the Carriage Road junction in 2 hours; with its eastern exposure, the morning sunshine was intense.  Some of the trees were dripping, despite the cool air.   Other hikers and skiers paused, like me, for a quick bite of lunch.



The ridgeline approach of the summit from this point is always exciting, with increasingly dramatic views to the west into Vermont and to the east into New Hampshire, and Moosilauke looming ahead.  Today, though, we were treated to intense sunshine, dead-calm air, deeply clear blue sky, and a totally undercast view across Vermont.  Wow!2018-12-01-61549.jpg

2018-12-01-61576Even the summit cone was deep with snow – very unusual – topped with a coating of rime.  Excellent ski conditions.  No wind!  I reached the summit and spent more than a half an hour, hatless and coatless, enjoying the spectacular view and the unusually pleasant conditions.  A Russian couple stood at the summit, on skis, and discussed their descent route.  Others sat in the sunshine to enjoy lunch.  I marveled at the undercast over Vermont and parts of New Hampshire.  Quite impressive.

The conditions were ripe for snowshoe glissades, down through the clouds and back to the valley with memories of the brilliant day above.

Be sure to check out the photos!

heffalump – those large pillows of snow that hang on tree branches; a reference to Winnie the Pooh.  Also known as wumpuses because of the “whooomp!” sound they make when they fall on your head.  Thanks to Jen B for introducing me to these technical terms.  🙂

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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