It will come as no surprise to those of you who know me, that I was back out on the trail early on my second morning out of quarantine. Not long after sunrise, I drove north along the Connecticut River and then hanging a right through the morning fog toward Moosilauke, my spiritual home in the White Mountains. This route takes me from the town of Lyme north through Orford and northeast to Warren, past the barns and pastures of riverbottom farmland, past the B&B Inns and historic sites that normally draw tourists, past the auto-body shops and driveways filled with pickup trucks. Today it was also striking to drive left to right through the political spectrum, beginning with the Black Lives Matter signs in Lyme and transitioning to the Trump-Pence campaign signs in Orford and eventually to the Trump 2020: No more bullshit sign in Warren.
I arrived early and parked at the satellite parking area – the road is gated because Moosilauke Ravine Lodge is closed due to the pandemic. Sigh; this adds a mile-and-a-half to the round-trip distance. Still, the sky was brilliant blue and the morning air was cool. I made quick time, up Snapper to Carriage Road, pausing to visit South Peak, and then on to the main summit. Only then did I see another person – after two hours and almost four miles of hiking. A light breeze blew across the summit, while the cool morning air forced clouds to form and then dissipate as the breeze passed over the higher peaks to the northeast. Four other hikers were already at the summit, sitting suitably far apart.
I didn’t stay long, and headed down the Gorge Brook Trail – thus completing the classic circuit in the opposite direction from my normal pattern. As expected, I encountered many more hikers on my way down. All were kind enough to step aside, or would thank me after I stepped aside; about a third would pop on a mask while passing by. (Personally, I don’t see a need for a mask while hiking outdoors, in a breeze, when the contact time is less than 10 seconds, and only make an effort to keep distance during passing.)
The terrain here is so different than Switzerland, but so beautiful in its own way, and so full of memories. A wonderful day.