Search For Specific Hikes

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mt. Moriah (#30), April 25, 2009

Stony Brook Trail, Carter-Moriah Trail.

10 miles, out-and-back.

Both of us agree that this was a difficult hike. The reason: notorious spring conditions.

Started off well enough -- a drizzly morning that cleared up as soon as we hit the trailhead.

Notice what Alex is holding -- a beautiful, hand-crafted hiking stick made especially for her by Drewski on VFTT. It really is gorgeous, and Alex loves hiking with it. Thanks again, Drew!!

We left the sign and immediately crossed a little bridge.

Soon after the bridge, we came across a rotting mechanical thing (Alex's picture).

We continued on our way and soon crossed another little bridge, this time over a flume.

The trail so far was lovely. Stony Brook Trail meanders along Stony Brook for the first couple of miles. Both Alex and I were pleased to see everything looking so green again.

We came to our first crossing at the 1 mile mark. This was to be our biggest crossing of the day, and I knew getting back in the evening would be much more difficult than crossing in the morning. It was to be a hot afternoon, and the melting snow would run into this "brook," making it flow much faster and deeper later in the day. Therefore, before we crossed, we bushwhacked upstream and downstream for a few tenths of a mile. I wanted to be sure there would be at least a few possible places to cross in higher water.

After I was satisfied with what I saw, we crossed this series of stepping stones. Our boots got wet, but our feet didn't.

We continued our journey along an old logging road...

...then up a rocky, very wet and muddy path...

...until we came to the second water crossing at 2.3 miles. This one wasn't as tricky as the first.

We got to the other side and continued on our merry way. The trail was still free of snow, and we felt fine.

A nice yellow dog came up the trail, soon followed by Ned and Peak576 from VFTT. We chatted for a minute, then they continued on their way. Nice to see you, guys!

Soon after our encounter, we ran into the beginning of the rotting snow...

From here until the third water crossing we stayed on the firm middle portion of the trail, known as the monorail. We were able to bareboot successfully.....until just before I crossed the brook. Just as I was walking down toward the rocks, I postholed -- up to my waist!!! I pulled myself out and immediately postholed again. Finally, I got out and crossed the water with Alex. Didn't get a picture of that last crossing because I was too busy cursing at the rotting snow.

After we crossed, we both put on our snowshoes. The trail before us was soft and sinking.

Our pace now slowed considerably, and hiking became exponentially harder. Even with snowshoes on, both Alex and I postholed often. I was relieved when we came to the final steep stretch just before the Carter-Moriah Trail.

We took a long break here. The last mile had really done a number on both of us -- constant postholing is no fun!!

After we felt ready, we continued on. More rotting snow, then we came to a series of ledges. It was nice to be on bare rock.

The trail wound in and out of the woods and over various ledges. We were blessed with clear skies -- and great views!

We ran into Ned, Peak576, and Cody (the dog) about half a mile or so from the summit. They were coming back down after having reached the top. We spoke for a few pleasant minutes before continuing on our way. Again, nice to meet you guys.

Some more in and out of the trees, and we reached the spur trail to the summit. Up a steep little bit...

...and we were there!

We both agreed this hike had been a challenge. The rotting snow and constant postholing (even with snowshoes on) had sapped our energy and eaten a lot of our time. We took a rest and enjoyed the scenery, congratulating each other on our perseverance.

We then began our descent, back across the ledges and through the woods. Here's a last look back at Moriah's summit.

We plunged down through the soft snow -- much, much softer now that the warm sun had been on it all day (it was 82 degrees on the summit!).

I would characterize our descent as a sufferfest. Constant postholing, much worse than the ascent due to the sun-warmed snow. We both punched through the snow a million times, banged up our limbs, and cursed our way down the trail until we were back on a snow-free path. Then we jogged our way toward that large water was late in the day, we had taken a lot more time than I had anticipated, and I did NOT want to cross that water in headlamps. Of course, if it came to it we would take an alternate route back to the car and avoid the crossing altogether. However, I preferred to go back the way we came, if safely possible.

We got to that large crossing (a mile from the car) half an hour before sunset. Of course, all rocks were now submerged in swift-running water, but the place we crossed on the way up was still do-able. I took Alex's hand and explained that we were going to wade through. We crossed in water that was up to my calves and Alex's thighs. I held her tightly, and we made it across just fine. The water was swiftly moving, but not dangerous -- at no point did I feel as though either of us were going to be knocked off our feet. We did, however, get our boots, socks and pants very wet -- we were cold when we reached the other side. I asked Alex if she wanted to change now or at the car, and she chose at the car (it was now 72 degrees outside, so I agreed).

The last mile was a much more pleasant affair.  I felt much more relaxed since we were now past that crossing, and we stopped to notice a few things before returning to the car. Alex took this picture of some fungi on a tree.

We finally made it back to the trailhead. Alex's knees were full of cuts and scrapes from falling into the snow while postholing. Her elbows were bruised, her forehead had a welt on it from being smacked by a tree, and her legs and feet were soaking wet. I had scrapes on my arms -- I don't even know how or why. Oh yes, and I had a large gash in my knee from when I had fallen onto one of the metal grips of Alex's snowshoes (I had been carrying them in my hands at the time). Seriously, I had to pull her snowshoe out of my knee. Arg. But-- we were now back at the car, and very very happy about being back at the car.

We both agree we will wait until that soft snow is GONE from the trails before we do another 4K. Adios 'til late next month.


  1. Wow very cool and exciting story!! I am really enjoying your travels!! I too was out last Saturday on Mt. Moosilauke and postholed like crazy!! There is nothing more frustrating to me then that! I will even take black flys over it! haha I look forward to your continued adventures!!

    Douglas Albanese
    West Lebanon NH
    hiker1965@comcast (dot) Net

  2. Thanks, Douglas! Yes, we're going to wait a couple weeks for the snow to melt before we head back out on a 4K. Hiking on snow is great if it's packed and hard -- not so much if it's soft and you're sinking up to your waist with every other step! Hopefully in 2 weeks or so things will be much better. I'll get out there a bit in the meantime, but constant postholing is too much for Alex...wears her out fast!

    Hope to see you out there sometime!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.