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 Continue reading “Moosilauke in early winter”

Winter hikes

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.

Dennis and Cory and Saiah enjoy the view of the Jobildunc headwall.
January: Bushwhacking a ravine on Mount Moosilauke

The summit of Moosilauke on a rather cloudy winter's day.
February: a blustery, cloudy day on Moosilauke [more photos
2018-03-18-46300
March: a blue-sky day with deep snow on Moosilauke [more photos]
2018-04-07-46411
April: fresh powder in the Franconia Range, on Mount Liberty [more photos]

Mount Carr

Ice skims the surface of trailside puddles after a cold March night.
Ice skims the surface of trailside puddles after a cold March night.

A lovely day for a hike up Mount Carr, an unassuming 3,400′ bump to the southeast of Mount Moosilauke. I had never visited this peak, so when a friend suggested we try it out I was ready to hit the trail.  The lower slopes were bare of snow but it is, after all, still “winter” so none of the trees or undergrowth have started to leaf out.  The overnight cold formed a skim of ice across all the puddles and many of the smaller streams, their fascinating patterns glinting in today’s bright sunshine. (See photos!) The upper slopes held a crusty but shallow snowpack, and rippled ice floes.

The Presidentials, with a fresh coat of white snow, dominate the view from Mount Carr.
The Presidentials, with a fresh coat of white snow, dominate the view from Mount Carr.

At the rocky summit we could climb on the footings of the long-since-removed fire tower and see the white-capped Mount Moosilauke, Franconia Range, and Presidential Range.  I hope to return to the neighborhood and explore the other peaks in the Wentworth-Rumney area!

Back to Moosilauke

Despite summiting this mountain a dozen times last year, I just can’t stay away.  This weekend I headed up the mountain early on a sunny Sunday morning with two good friends – my ’86 classmate Jen and her husband Lars.  After dropping overnight gear at MRL we strolled up the Gorge Brook trail with 3-4″ of fresh powder to decorate the trees and soften the earlier hard-packed base.  The blue skies did not last, but the grey overcast stayed high and we were treated to spectacular views of the Whites from the newly re-opened overlooks.  The summit was freshly coated in delicate rime-ice feathers, but the wind was calm and the temp reasonable so we were able to sit and enjoy the view with about a dozen other hikers who reached the summit at noon. Check out the photos!

Jen, Lars and David enjoy calm weather on the summit of Mount Moosilauke. Photo by Jen Botzojorns.
Jen, Lars and David enjoy calm weather on the summit of Mount Moosilauke. Photo by Jen Botzojorns.

After a quick descent we retired to John Rand cabin for a delicious dinner (thanks Jen!), joined by another classmate Lelia and the Hooke family.  The Hookes and I stayed overnight, as a light snow began to fall.  With 3″ by breakfast and 6″ by our noon departure, with heavy snow continuing, it’s beginning to look like Winter has finally come to Moosilauke.

Skiing out from Moosilauke during a snowstorm.
Skiing out from Moosilauke during a snowstorm.

Moosilauke 2015 grid

I’ve probably hiked Moosilauke over 60 times – I just love this mountain.  For 2015 I decided to “grid” Moosilauke by climbing it at least once per month (some people are crazy enough to climb all of the 48 of the NH 4,000-foot mountains every month of the year, aka, “The Grid“).  To avoid too much repetition, I also decided to “redline” the mountain by traveling all of its trails at least once.  I had not visited some of these trails in over 20 years!  It was fun to get up there in all seasons and in a huge range of conditions from nasty winter white-outs to glorious sunshine.  Today I finished, on one of those gorgeous blue-sky days on which you can see all of the Vermont and New Hampshire peaks.  See all 12 months and more photos here.

Moosilauke summit on a beautiful, sunny, warm(!) December day.
Moosilauke summit on a beautiful, sunny, warm(!) December day.

Timberframe workshop

Dave uses an antique boring machine to drill mortises in one of the king posts.
Using an antique boring machine to drill mortises in one of the king posts.

I spent six beautiful days at Moosilauke Ravine Lodge with a team of wonderful chubbers & friends who were there for the timber-framing workshop hosted by Dave Hooke ’84 and his TimberHomes crew.  In the span of six days we learned how to lay out, cut, and raise timber posts, bents, braces, struts, and all manner of heavy wooden contraptions.  Amazing that Dave et al. actually entrusted us with a variety of sharp tools and valuable timbers!  We were guided by a team of excellent instructors, and managed to put up the main part of the frame (porches to be added later) and lay down the first course of roofing.  It looks like a bunkhouse!  It is located in a new clearing beyond Bicentennial and behind the ’74 Bunkhouse.

Thanks to the Class of ’66 for their generous donation, to the Lodge Crew for the amazing food, and to Dave, Josh, Skip, Shannon, Andrew, and Helen for their outstanding instruction.

Check out the photo gallery and the timelapse video.

Timberframe workshop at Moosilauke - Class of 1966 bunkhouse. (Photo by David Kotz '86.)
Timberframe workshop at Moosilauke – Class of 1966 bunkhouse. (Photo by David Kotz ’86.)

 

I guess winter is over – sigh…

Alright, I finally need to admit it.  Winter is over.  Although many folks in the northeast are tired of winter and are glad to see signs of spring, I have been relishing every last opportunity to enjoy the incredible winter conditions Nature delivered to us this season. I’ve been out hiking the past three Sundays, and for a week prior I was out skiing nearly every day, soaking up the beautiful scenery, outstanding ski conditions, and incredible hiking.  I brought my camera along for many outings this winter. Here’s a quick recap.

2015-01-02-12729January 2: hiking Moosilauke with son Andy and with friends (Lelia, Jen, and Lars) in a snowstorm. Cold temps, fierce winds, and blowing snow led Andy to bundle up and exclaim “I feel invincible!” as we climbed the summit cone. [more photos]

 

 

2015-02-28-13174February 28: Mark and I skied up and down the Carriage Road on an intensely sunny day, catching the powder before it softened and with noontime views from the summit. [more photos]

 

 

 

March 14: hiking Moosilauke again with son Andy and his friend Sam, plus friends from Thetford. We made it to South Peak but were socked in by clouds. [more photos]

 

 

March 16: When I feared winter was almost over I spent a week skiing every morning in Lyme, often with impressive dawn views of Smarts Mountain.  The ski conditions were absolutely fantastic.

 

 

March 22: A bitterly cold morning on Cummings Pond, one of the last good mornings for skiing.  A day later I had the chance to ski at sunset, and completed my longest-ever loop on that trail network. [more photos]

 

April 5: Easter hike up Mount Moosilauke; a fresh early-morning snowfall was followed by a brilliantly sunny day.  The deep snowpack was decorated by a soft covering of fresh powder, and the summit lent me great views of the Franconia and Presidential ranges. [more photos]

 

April 12: a sunny jaunt up North Kinsman with close-up views of Franconia Range and awesome butt-sliding back down the Fishin’ Jimmy trail. [more photos]

 

 

2015-04-19-13879Finally, April 19, an awe-inspiring morning in the northern Presidentials, freshly dusted by snow and rime ice, capped by a deep blue sky and bathed in intense spring sunshine.  I was up Madison and Adams before noon.  Incredible day. [more photos]

 

It’s now time for the trails to rest.  Meanwhile the ice on the river is out and I’m looking forward to boating season!

Moosilauke in a snowstorm

As we drove toward Mount Moosilauke on New Year’s day, we caught a glimpse of its summit, brilliant white under the high cloud deck, and thought eagerly of our plans to hike to that summit the next day.  Lelia and Andy and I hiked in past the Ravine Lodge, finding the going easy on a shallow but firm snow cover, with the last of the deep-pink sunset fading as we reached John Rand cabin. In a couple of hours the cabin was cozy and warm and we welcomed the arrival of friends Jen and Lars. After a wonderful pasta dinner and conversation, we settled in for a cozy first night of the new year; all in all, a great foundation for a big hike the next day.

photo of David, Lars, Jen, and Lelia
David, Lars, Jen, and Lelia on the trail after visiting the summit.

Continue reading “Moosilauke in a snowstorm”