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26 July 2010

Hiking in the Whites: Mt. Moosilauke

This Sunday Travis and I took a quick day trip up to the Whites to climb Mt. Moosilauke (4802 ft, pronounced Moose - ih - lock). We chose to take the Benton Trail (3.6 miles to the peak), where, according to the guestbook, we were the first hikers of the day. Apparently some of the more strenuous (but shorter) trails would have been very slippery since it rained the previous night.

About a mile a little (~8") owl swooped out a few feet in front of Travis, and landed in a tree to our left. I'm no bird expert, but it looks like it could be a Northern Saw-whet Owl.

About 1.3 miles we took a little side trail that led us to a great view. The tops of the mountains were hidden by clouds, but we were still low enough to have a beautiful view of the valley.

About 0.3 miles from the top we hit the tree line and started following the cairns that marked the trail. I don't think I've ever been on a mountain this tall that is still well-covered in grass. The orange-green mix of ground-cover contrasted beautifully with the dark mountains around us and the storm cloud that looked to be rolling in.

The really high winds were blowing clouds towards us at a very high rate. It was a really neat experience to be at the exact elevation of the clouds. We watched them moving towards us from a distance, and when they hit, the damp whiteness swirled around us until it passed over.

Since the wind seemed to be picking up (and there was a very dark cloud approaching us -- will add photo soon!), we only lingered at the top long enough to take pictures with the summit sign and have lunch in one of the little protective shelters. As started hiking back down, we ran into an enthusiastic (and possibly crazy) hiker who asked us approximately 6 times in a row whether we had hiked this mountain before (we'd had a similar conversation with him in the parking lot earlier). He also warned us of an unusually large bear population on the side of the mountain we had come up. Apparently he'd heard many of them on his way up... 

We made it back down without too much excitement (aside from encountering some piles of fresh bear scat), and headed back to Manchester.


Tammela said...

That sounds like an awesome hike, Nena!

Bailey said...

That owl looks TERRIFYING! Far scarier than any bear poop!