Mark made the drive up in the wee hours after the storm. Steve guided us up his favorite trail, Glencliff, to the summit of Moosilauke and made believers of us. The day was way cold (below 0F) and super clear, providing great 360-degree views from the top. It was also very windy (>30mph) so exposed skin froze quickly and I didn't dare leave my gloves off to take many photos.
Peaks: Mt Moosilauke
Weather: Clear and cold. -6F at summit and windy (30+ mph)
Parked: lot on High St (just past Long Pond Rd) in Benton, NH
Mark before the -6F and 20+ mph chill on the summit.
Bluebird day on the Moose.
Steve on top, admiring Franconia Ridge in the mid-distance and the Presies in the back.
Barely managed a summit photo. Three quick snaps and my fingers were numb for thirty minutes. I noticed a white spot on Mark's cheek, so he covered his face to prevent frostbite; that's why he looks like Kylo Ren here.
Mt Moosilaukee just after Glencliff Trail and Carriage Rd junction. Beautiful, but bitterly cold. Brrrr!
After the hike, after the drive home, after the unpacking... comes the apres-hike ale.
...People we met on the trail.
Near the top we met a couple of guys in their 20's. On the way down we all hung out at the junction of Glencliff and Carriage Rd for awhile and shared their cheese and sausage--a wilderness charcuterie. It was the first winter hike for one of them, so he picked our brains about equipment.
Coming down the trail, I met John and Pepper on their way up. I almost gave him a big hug, I was in such a good mood from an excellent Moosilauke hike and I enjoyed chatting and hiking with him so much on Jefferson the day before.
There was also a large group of Dartmouth students climbing up. When we got to the parking lot, Mark was able to rescue their youthful drivers. They couldn't start the mini bus. Mark wiggled the locked steering wheel and the motor fired right up.
The plan was to hike Jefferson on Saturday and Monroe on Sunday. But the weather was so good (no wind, mostly clear, very cold) that we just kept going and hiked Jefferson and Monroe, with Mt Washington thrown in between for good measure.
Apres-hike we made lobster & crab ravioli at the Notch Hostel, then hung out with the 30 other hikers there, sharing Lord Hobo Boom Sauce and gluten-free multi-grain chips.
A bit of adventure?
Steve bounds and glissades downhill, fast. I usually just let him go, but decided to try and keep up as we descended Mt Jefferson. Next thing I knew, I followed him off a 12-foot vertical drop. Fortunately, there was a giant pile of powder at the bottom. No problemo!
After descending Mt Washington, we spent 30 minutes in near whiteout conditions. Then ascending Mt Monroe we got off-trail and ended up clinging to a near vertical snow field. More about both below.
Peaks: Mt Jefferson, Mt Washington, Mt Monroe
Weather: no wind, but cold (0F) and partly cloudy (mostly above us, except on Crawford Pass)
Mt Washington from the Cog Railway parking lot. You can just make out the Observatory if you zoom in a bit. Striking the Captain Morgan pose near the top of Jewell Trail. You can see the Cog base in the valley. It was clear below us, but so overcast above us that you can barely make out Mt Washington and its Observatory. This photo and the previous, were taken seconds apart facing in opposite directions. Following Pepper and his people towards Mt Jefferson. Is that a cairn or just a snow covered bush? We met John (author of "Pepper and Me" trip reports) and his dog Pepper at the Cog parking lot and hiked with them on and off all day. John said he saw my red Mini Cooper with "85" on the doors at various trailheads a lot the past couple of weeks. John's car is also easily identified by the GRIDDOG vanity plates. John has completed the grid twice, once with Pepper. He has also red-lined all the trails, twice!
John's hiking companions were Georg Von Trapp (on the right of the photo) who started his grid at age 70 and completed it soon after. Now, at age 75, he hikes as fast as me, knows all the trails by heart, and can name all the surrounding peaks at any viewpoint.
Marty (in the green coat) was the third celebrity hiker, famous mostly for accidentally getting left behind, locked in a cabin on top of a mountain by the other two. Marty was able to free himself by slipping a paperback through the opening between the door and the jamb and unhook the latch on the outside of the door.
It was a real pleasure hiking and chatting with John, Georg, and Marty. On top of Jefferson, I was so giddy about getting a photo with the celebrity hikers, that I failed to get the traditional photo of me and Steve together. You can see Mt Washington behind me, across the Great Gulf.
A better shot of Mt Washington across the Great Gulf, as seen from Mt Jefferson. Steve climbing towards the Washington summit.
Looking back at Jefferson, Adams, and Madison across the Great Gulf. The snowcat (click photo to get a better view) was plowing the top of the Auto Road, though not sure why. Mt Washington Observatory. We were on Jefferson, the first peak behind Steve, an hour and fifty minutes ago. After a long hike above tree line, we are near the summit of Washington. Almost there. Made it! The traditional summit selfie.
Ho hum. Jefferson Washington Monroe. Yawn.
No photos between Mt Washington and Mt Monroe, because a big cloud rolled over the saddle and covered the trail as we hiked towards the appropriately named Lake of the Clouds. We were in near whiteout conditions for over 30 minutes and couldn't see the trail, let alone think about taking a picture. There was little risk because I was navigating by GPS and we knew the frozen lake was below us and to our right and the Tuckerman Crossover was on the ridge above us and to our left. Nonetheless, it was worrisome and were were very pleased when the cloud moved on and we could see again.
Visibility was good as we ascended Mt Monroe. Even so, the cairns were hard to follow and we got off-trail somehow despite repeatedly checking the GaiaGps map. We went to the left of a ridge of snow (we later learned the trail went to the right) and ended up clinging to a near vertical snow field. I had to punch my fists through the snow to anchor me while I groped for footholds. I finally managed to crawl back up to the trail. Steve was not so lucky, as I had displaced most of the snow, leaving just icy cliff face. He hollowed out a space to sit and put on his crampons and soon joined me. However, his fingers had lost all dexterity in the cold, so I had to help remove his crampons when we got back down to the hut.
On top of Monroe, finally!
From Monroe, you can see Mt Washington over my shoulder. Looking the other way, you can see Mt Eisenhower's bald pate poking up above the clouds.
Pepper, John, and Marty were at the Lake of the Clouds Hut watching and shaking their heads while we climbed Mt Monroe the hard way. They came up the smart way and met us just below the summit. Georg hikes fast, but decided one peak was enough and headed back to his car after Jefferson.
...Alexa and Jordan were in Argentina, about to trek the mountain range featured in the Patagonia logo. That's Fitz Roy towering above the clouds.
...and Nick was at a quad meet to cheer on the new crop of Winchester wrestlers, and congratulate Coach Tremblay on setting a record for most wins. Bubba looks psyched to have Julie's famous brownies again.
Success! Bagged both peaks. Pretty gnarly ice up top. Perfect weather.
I was first one up Valley Way today, so had to break trail a bit near tent site. Madison was rock and ice, as expected, but clear with beautiful views. The connector to Airline was drifted over so I followed the track to Star Lake Trail and was 3/4 mile up Adams before I decided it was too sketchy and backtracked, broke trail to Airline, then went up Madison by the planned route, then down along the beautiful ridge above King Ravine. Very happy to get back to my car; it was a long, tiring hike with challenging climbs up the two summit cones.
I've encountered a corridor of trees like this on several summit approaches. So cool.
If you click to zoom in, you can see the wind turbines, probably Granite Reliable Wind Farm in Coos County.
From near the top of Valley Way at 9:20, I think this is looking east towards Mt Madison. In any case, the sky is beautiful. I'm pretty sure this is looking south-west at Mount Quincy Adams. It doesn't have a trail to the top, and even though its elevation is 5410', it isn't on the 4000-footer list because it doesn't have the necessary 200-foot prominence to be considered an independent mountain. Mt. Adams has two major subsidiary peaks (Mount Quincy Adams named after John Adams' son, President John Quincy Adams, and Mount Sam Adams named after John Adams' cousin, Revolutionary leader Samuel Adams) and two minor sub-peaks (Abigail Adams named for John Adams' wife Abigail, and Adams 5). On top of Madison. From Madison, looking south-west, you see Mt Washington across the Great Gulf. Zoom in, and you can make out the auto road snaking its way up the ridge on the left of the photo. The bump to the left of Washington is Nelson Crag. From the Gulfside Tr, after descending Mt Madison, I think this is Mt Adams with Mt Jefferson in the distance. The trail is hard to follow even in summer. In winter, you just pick your over the rocks and ice and sometimes see a cairn to walk towards. Sometimes those "cairns" are just a bush covered in snow, then you have to search around to get back on track. Looking back at Mt Madison, if I read the shadows correctly. After tramping around on the wrong trails for awhile, I had to break trail from Madison Hut to Airline Trail. Initially, I followed a snowshoe track from the hut past Star Lake, then continued breaking trail on Star Lake Tr, which eventually got steep and sketchy. So I turned around and backtracked almost half-a-mile to the unbroken out connector to Airline. I felt much more secure on my planned route, especially when I could see people hiking down from Adams. On top of Mt Adams, I ran into Nick, a fellow guest at the Notch Hostel last week. Nick offered to take my summit photo, so you can actually see more than just my head. We had to get a shot with Mt Washington in the background, even though the sun was also behind me. This summit photo on Mt Adams has better lighting, and you can see Mt Madison which I was on two-and-a-half hours ago in the background. You can also see the shadows of Nick and the people he was hiking with. Airline Tr follows this ridge down to the valley. My car clothes were a tribute to TB12 and the Patriots for securing the #1 seed in the AFC the day before.