I’ve had terrible luck with views on Mount Moosilauke. I’ve been atop this 4803 foot peak four times in the past and have not had a single view from the summit. The first time was during an odd October snowstorm, the second was another snowstorm, and the third time it poured. The fourth time it rained again and it was completely socked in. I decided that I needed to find the absolute perfect day to hike this peak. After keeping an eye on the forecast, a Sunday night hike seemed perfect. It was sunny all day with partly cloudy skies and temperatures ranging from mid 40s to just above freezing up top for the evening. I was determined to see something from this peak!
Packing for a spring hike can be difficult. The conditions vary greatly and for my particular hike, I’d need some layers for watching the sunset. I decided to ditch my heavy winter boots and break out the trail runners. I had an extra pair of socks in case they got soaked. With the warm temps, having wet feet wouldn’t be bad. I decided to leave the snowshoes behind last minute when I got to the trailhead. Spring hiking means I need to pack a little different than what my typical day hiking list entails.
I had contemplated my route and was going to hike up Glencliff. It is a much steeper route, but the road into the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge is typically closed until early May. This is where the Gorge Brook Trail starts. The car ahead of me turned down the road leading to the lodge so I figured, “why not?” and followed suit. It turns out that person lived down that road and the gate was still closed. Oh well.
I brought my MP3 player from my car to make the 1.6 mile road walk (each way!) go by a little quicker. I didn’t end up pulling it out on my return ramble down the road.
The lower section of the trail was soft and I began to wish that I had brought my snowshoes. However, further up the snow became very crusty and was full of postholes, making it nearly impossible to navigate with snowshoes on. The conditions are really all over the place right now.
I haven’t been up Gorge Brook Trail in a couple years. I don’t know how new these signs are, but it’s a very easy reroute to follow and the wale sign is probably the cutest sign I’ve ever seen!
I did have my share of postholing, but once I reached about 3000 feet, I got to play “follow the monorail”. There was a thin monorail of well packed snow but it was sometimes hard to follow it as it wound up the mountain. Below is a video of the worst posthole. My leg sunk in and the snow collapsed over my shoe so I had to dig myself out! Good times 🙂
Just past the 3300′ mark I ran into the only hikers I would see all day. They were heading down and joined by two pups whose prints I had seen on my ascent.
There was only one major blowdown on the trail, but it was an easy duck-under. This trail is straightforward and well maintained by Dartmouth College. It’s a great trail to hike down in the dark!
After some more elevation, I was rewarded with my first big view from Moosilauke. I kid you not when I say I’ve never seen views from this peak!
Turning into a mountain man. What I do alone in the woods…
It was such a spectacular feeling to be getting above treeline and seeing blue skies! I was getting giddy as I made the final push to the summit.
My favorite false summit. So gorgeous up here!
When I reached the top, I was all alone. It wasn’t an eerie sort of loneliness, but more in a freeing sense. It was just me and the mountain. I had it all to myself and it was glorious.
I found a spot just below the summit sign and setup the tripod I lugged up as well as dinner. I threw on my down jacket and swapped my soaked socks for fresh ones. There was the slightest breeze and the perfect amount of clouds for photos.
The sun would set at 7:36 pm so I had about an hour to enjoy the summit and watch colors swirl around the sky and dance among peaks in the distance.
What is better than hot cocoa while watching the sun set?
Altogether I was on the summit for an hour and 15 minutes. Once the sun set I packed up and put on my headlamps- one around my head and the other around my waist. I like to keep them off as long as possible, but having one around my waist is great for visibility below treeline, especially when avoiding postholes or other obstacles! I only postholed a handful of times and made it down pretty quickly despite the trail conditions.
Approach from: Gorge Brook Trail Winter Route
Distance: 10.6 miles
Time: 4:45 hiking; 6 hours including summit sunset time
Last modified: September 3, 2017