A visit to the famous Bomber crash site on Mount Moosilauke.
On the afternoon of January 14, 1942, a Douglas B18-A bomber with a crew of seven took off from Westover Air Field, Massachussetts. Hours later, fighting darkness and bad weather on their return to base, the crew became seriously disoriented… thinking they were approaching Westover when in fact they were over central New Hampshire. Moments later, they crashed into the side of Mount Waternomee, one of the peaks on the shoulder of Mount Moosilauke. The crew scrambled out of the wreckage, but the plane caught fire and exploded. Five survived, standing in the dark in the deep snow. The story of the crash – and the mid-night mid-winter rescue – has become the stuff of legend.
More than thirty years ago, as an undergraduate we often heard rumors of the “bomber site” on Moosilauke; it was known to be difficult to find and a challenging bushwhack. I’ve been meaning to visit the site ever since. Today I finally made it. Read on…
Although I’d already been up Moosilauke twice this winter, in late November and early January, I could not wait to get up there again before the season ends. I always enjoy visiting in late winter when the snowpack is incredibly deep, yet the valleys are starting to experience spring. So I’ve been watching the weather for the past two weeks and, finally, today offered me fantastic weather and an open calendar. I jumped at the chance. Read on, and check out the gallery.
One never hears of anyone climbing Mount Welch, or Dickey, or Dickey & Welch. It’s always Welch & Dickey. These twin mountains are a popular pair of small peaks in central New Hampshire, on the south edge of the White Mountains. Part of their popularity is the loop trail that goes over both peaks, making a far more interesting hike than the usual out-and-back route one might use to approach a single peak. Today, a brilliant late-winter day, Andy and I followed the classic route and enjoyed perfect trail conditions, blue skies, and crystal-clear views. Read on and check out the photo gallery!
As I rounded the corner on the broad turn east of Orfordville I could see that the summit of Mount Moosilauke was in the clouds, consistent with the mountain forecast. The NH summit forecast was for clouds, plummeting temperature, and hurricane-force winds, so I’d chosen instead to snowshoe the Al Merrill ski loop on the east side of Mount Moosilauke. It turned out to be an excellent choice – with plenty of untracked powder and not another soul in sight. Read on and be sure to check out the gallery for full-size images and more.
After yesterday’s good news from Georgia and horrific news from Washington, I was grateful to spend a few hours in one place on earth that gives me great peace: Mount Moosilauke. As I drove east out of the Connecticut River valley and over the shoulder of Mount Cube, I could see that Moosilauke’s summits were clouded in – disappointing – but I also enjoyed a deep-red sunrise among the clouds near the eastern horizon. A bright spot in a gray day. Read on, and check out the photo gallery for videos and more pix!
A delightful ascent of Moosilauke in unseasonable conditions.
On this day, very nearly the last day of November, the forecast was for a purely sunny day with temperatures well above freezing – weather decidedly un-November-like – so I decided it was high time I went back to Moosilauke. Yesterday it rained much of the day, even at altitude, so I was concerned the Moosilauke summit may have been glazed with ice today. But I was pleasantly surprised, as I climbed the familiar Glencliff trail, to find the muddy conditions of the lower sections giving way to a dusting of snow and, higher up, nearly an inch of fresh snow on the ground and trees decorated with fresh powder and rime ice, backed by a deep blue sky. Read on, and check out the photo gallery.
Dartmouth has a tradition of “Freshman Trips” (now “DOC Trips”) going back almost a hundred years. Before the new first-year students begin life on campus, they spend three days in the New Hampshire wilderness backpacking, biking, canoeing, etc., in small groups. On the last night they converge on Moosilauke Ravine Lodge for a grand evening of dining, dancing, and stories. It is a truly special program, and every year more than 90% of incoming students participate, along with hundreds of upper-class leaders and staff. Totally student run, totally amazing way to begin the Dartmouth experience.
This year, of course, is different. My son Andy is entering Dartmouth as a freshman – but this year, there are no traditional Freshman Trips. So Andy and I walked up to Moosilauke Ravine Lodge for a picnic dinner at sunset. Mara ’22 was the Loj Croo . It was a beautiful evening.
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.
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! Continue reading “Moosilauke in early winter”
I managed to get in one fantastic hike every month.
It was a great winter – once it got started, there was deep snow and many days with outstanding conditions. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to get out and enjoy it. Still, I managed to get in one fantastic hike every month.