Sunday, March 10, 2013

Moriah 3/9/13

Working title: Best. Weather. Of. The. Winter.

Peak: Mt. Moriah

Trails: Stony Brook Trail, Carter-Moriah Trail, Mt. Moriah Spur

Mileage/time: 10.1 miles, 3400 feet of gain, book time of 6:47, actual time of 8:13

An epic winter hiking season is now nearing its end, that isn't to say there isn't plenty of fun still to be had in the snow. While I'll be unable to complete my goal of finishing my winter New Hampshire 4000 Footers, I've made a healthy dent. Starting the season with 15 peaks down, and 33 to go, was a bit daunting. The weather hasn't always cooperated either, as expected. From a whiteout on the Presidentials last week, to pouring rain on a Cabot attempt, to a crisp near zero day on the Twins, this winter has thrown everything it had at us. Logistics has been the other roadblock. All in all, this has been one of the busiest, and most memorable times of my entire life, and I'm thankful for being able to get out there and do it, and for all the people I've met and shared the experience with. I have two more hiking days available before it's no longer calender winter, then I can turn my ambitions elsewhere (see skiing, and other various non-winter lists). Cabot is scheduled for Wednesday, then Friday is up in the air. If the weather is good, Mike and I will attempt another Presidential Traverse!

Speaking of traverses, I was pining the whole day long. After Thursdays attempt, and hearing the forecast, I'll admit I played a bit of devil's advocate, and tried to convince Mike to cancel, and give it another go. He was professional about it, didn't cancel the Meetup hike to Moriah, and in retrospect, I'm glad he didn't. Though I'm still, halfheartedly, lamenting the fact that I wasn't on the Presidential ridge.

When I pulled into the Stony Brook trailhead, both Mike and Samantha were already there. Seriously! Samantha had an excuse, she lives in Conway, Mike on the other hand, no excuse. He's had the nasty habit recently, of being earlier than me, making me look bad... unacceptable. We geared up, then sat in the cars chatting, until the rest of our group of 6 pulled in. I had hiked with Li before, but never with Donna, Cynthia, or Samantha (though Mike and I met her on Moosilauke in January). Final preparations were made, and we all started up the trail at 8:20.

4 lovely ladies... and Mike
Everyone seemed to warm up pretty quickly, and soon we made a stop to de-layer. I ended up in just a thin base layer top (no worries, I kept my pants on) all the way to the summit, and never even thought of taking my shell out of the pack. What great temperatures! We kept a good pace up through the hardwoods, there were beautiful snow scenes all around, as the snow had yet to start melting from the trees, and fantastic azure skies above.

I wonder how many times throughout the day, that the word posthole was uttered. Everyone in the group was wearing snowshoes, except for Samantha. Honestly, she did a great job not postholing, but I still poked fun at her most of the day, and nearly got a pole in my thigh a couple times, for my trouble.

We soon reached the Moriah/Imp col, where the signage was nearly completely buried. Did I mention that I love winter? This was the part of the hike I was looking forward to, passing over the ledge complex on the south ridge of Moriah. When I was last here in May 2011, we were in the fog for the entire climb, though we had an undercast on the summit. The ledges on this day did not disappoint, with views all around, and great snowshoeing conditions.

Pilot/Pliny Ranges

Southeast ridge, with Baldface/Meader ridge beyond

Middle Moriah and Shelburne Moriah
We continued our way up, passing back into the woods at many points along the way, me knocking snow off the trees in front to ease our passage. How the parties before us didn't knock down all the snow, I'll never know. Reaching the turn toward Moriah, where the sign was again buried, we saw that the ledge scramble that is usually the most challenging part of a Moriah ascent, was filled in, and was nothing more than a snow slope. We all made it up to the summit, where we took a nice break in the sun, soaking in our surroundings.

Presidentials from Moriah

North to the Mahoosucs over Middle Moriah

The Carter Range from Moriah
After a leisurely time on the summit, we packed up, and descended back the way we came. The sun had been working on the snow, softening it, leading to it melting out of the trees. It never got so intense that it felt like it was raining, but it was damp at times while we were still on the ridge. Back down Stony Brook, conditions remained much the same as when we ascended, though the track was softer. We ended up back at the parking lot at 4:33.

We all regrouped at Margarita Grille in Glen, which was packed when we arrived, and the parking lot was a muddy minefield! Great conversation, dinner and drinks were had, and we eventually all parted ways. Mike and Samantha were headed up Mount Washington today (Sunday), and I have to work tonight, so I was unable to join them.

Now for another few nights of work, then I can finish my "winter" season in style. There's 10 peaks left, and it remains to be seen how many will be left when it's all said and done. I must order/get skins for my skis, as I'll be taking a trip up to and possibly into Tuckerman Ravine on the 23rd with Samantha, at least for a run down the Sherburne Ski Trail, and I'd like to be able to skin up instead of carrying my skis. This hiker has neglected skiing this winter, and that's a problem!


  1. Hey! Great report. Nice seeing you up there. What a day.

  2. Great views. I'm headed u there today (Monday) trying to squeeze more peaks into this tremendous winter!