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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Moosilauke, January 17, 2010, winter 4K #8

Glencliff Trail and Moosilauke Carriage Road, 7.8 miles roundtrip.

Alex has decided to pursue the winter 4K list. I'm game for this adventure, but it does present various challenges. One such challenge is finding enough calm days to bag the many completely exposed peaks, since my comfort level with having Alex above treeline in winter conditions is breached whenever the wind gusts above 20mph. We're just going to have to grab the nice days as they come along.

Today, Sunday, was one of those rare, appropriate days...warmer temperatures than usual, with little to no wind. We chose Moosilauke and set off on the well packed Glencliff Trail.

We stopped to say hello to this snowy inchworm, which was happily crawling on the underside of a branch. Alex asked that I take its picture.

We stopped again at the intersection with Moosilauke Carriage Road. Time to eat and layer up!

After consuming vast quantities of trail mix, Alex and I had a decision to make. MadRiver and his friend Mynetta were hiking Moosilauke today too, and I figured they were probably a half hour or so behind us. Should we wait for them before continuing onward? Maybe....but the longer we sat, the cooler we I decided we should press on.

Up the snowy corridor we trekked...

...and into an increasingly white, foggy landscape. White, white, white...and bright! I secured Alex's goggles so my kid wouldn't go snow blind, then I adorned my own eyewear. Wow. We've never been in such a bright white world before. If we hadn't had our goggles, we wouldn't have been able to continue.

Visibility was low, perhaps fifty feet. While we were still in the scrub, this wasn't much of a problem. Frozen postholes, hiking stick marks and snowshoe tracks led the way quite clearly. Alex went first and navigated easily. She had a knack for distinguishing the snow-covered cairns from the snow-covered vegetation. I had my compass at the ready, and I was familiar with the layout of the land from having studied the map earlier.

As we neared the bare summit cone, this is what we saw.

The frozen marks were still easy to follow, and I felt confident with my bearings.

As we slowly made our way up, I reminded Alex to stay close to me at all times and to keep that bright orange hat (which I have her wear for exactly these potential circumstances) on her head. She led the way which, in spite of the poor visibility, was still easy to discern.

After fifteen minutes of carefully walking through the white fog, we saw a bit of orange ahead of us...the summit sign!

I anchored both my hiking poles before I followed Alex up those last few dozen feet. I knew that it would be difficult to see which way we had come up once we were both on the pile of jumbled summit rocks, so I wanted to clearly mark our exit. I tied one of my lightweight, blaze orange hunting vests to the top of one of the poles, just to give it that extra visual oomph, then I joined my daughter at the summit sign.

We ate a little and drank some water, then we made our way back down the way we had come up. Lengthy lingering would have to wait until we were back in the trees, where we could see more clearly.

Once out of White World, we crossed paths with a large group which included Bob (BobnGeri), Lawnsale, a nice fellow named Tom, and a myriad of other good folk. Nice to see you again, Bob and Lawnsale, and nice to meet the rest of you!

Before descending the Glencliff Trail, Alex and I sat, ate our customary chocolate, and wondered aloud about the whereabouts of MadRiver and Mynetta. Just before we geared back up, they both appeared. They had started out later than expected, which was why they hadn't caught up with us before we reached the summit. It was good to see them both, even if only for a few minutes.

Our descent was fast and furious, as it usually is during the winter. Alex ran, jumped, and slid all the way down, stopping only occasionally to rest in the snow.

Another great day in the woods. Mother Earth is one beautiful Lady.

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