A Gorgeous Weekday Hike Up Mt. Moosilauke
Updated: Jul 26, 2019
Weekday hiking is truly a different experience than hiking on weekends in the Whites. I'm not often afforded this luxury with school and work getting in the way, but when I do have an opportunity to get out there during the week I jump on it. With Wednesday-Sunday off from work this week, I was super excited to get out there with Lucy for her 10th 4,000 footer.
Last time I hiked Mt. Moosilauke was in August with my bosses and their kids after a fun night of car camping. I'm so lucky to have found the family that I nanny for, not only because their kids are really great but also because we have many shared interests. They have much more hiking and rock climbing experience than I do, so it's always fun to spend some time outdoors with them. This time was different because it was just me, Lucy, and one of my friends hiking together. It ended up being a really quiet day so we were able to take our time and really enjoy being outside in the beautiful weather.
The day started and finished with a nice jaunt up Gorge Brook Trail. The weather was perfect all day, 55 degrees at the base when we started and mostly sunny with a few clouds blowing above. Gorge Brook is probably the easiest route up Mt. Moosilauke, starting at about 2,300 ft and gaining just over 2,500 to the summit over four miles. It's a gradual trail with great footing and sounds of the brook following for the first couple of miles. As the trees got shorter we got more and more excited to get to the alpine summit, especially since we knew the views were sure to be excellent.
As soon as we broke treeline we could see the summit sign awaiting our company. The breeze was a little bit chilly but refreshing after the stifling heat wave last weekend. After the short hike to the summit, we sat and had a break to eat some snacks and take in our surroundings. The 360 degree view was clear and expansive as far as the eye could see. We stayed up there for over a half hour enjoying ourselves and basking in the sun. We only saw about 10 people all day, so it was great to be on relatively empty trails compared to the weekend madness that happens pretty much all summer.
After we left the summit, we made a quick stop at the south peak before continuing down Carriage Road. I thought it was much less pleasant than Gorge Brook in because it's lined with small, ankle breaking rocks for most of the descent. Every time I took a step on that trail, the little pebbles would roll my ankle, which happened quite a few times. Luckily I caught myself, preventing any real injuries.
Snapper Trail was a beautiful mix of large, stable rocks and dirt path. Everything was so green from the mossy rocks to the ferns lining the trail. At one point I thought about how magical and full of life this forest felt with the birds singing and the cool breeze.
I've become very choosy about the trails that I attempt with Lucy after a few mishaps early into my first round of the 4,000 footers. Having done this trail with three pre-teens and an eight month old in tow the first time, I thought this would be a piece of cake for her. She did really well on Pierce and Eisenhower a few weeks ago, and with this hike being easier in my opinion, I had high expectations.
Unfortunately Lucy struggled more than I had hoped. On the way up she did really well, but Carriage Road was a little rough on her paws and I didn't realize until they were a little bit tender. Although her boots helped, she was really tired so we took lots of breaks on the way back home for her to regain some energy. After every break Lucy started back up with just as much enthusiasm as always, but her excitement waned more and more quickly as we went on. Had the descent been much longer, she would have had a hard time finishing.
The lesson learned today is that every 4,000 footer will be difficult for Lucy in one way or another. Just because she did really well on a harder hike a few weeks ago doesn't mean the next hike will be the same. Maybe there was something going on with her that I don't know about or today just wasn't her day. Looking back, there wasn't a point where we should have turned around, but I do wish that I had put her booties on sooner rather than later. I'm going to have to think long and hard about the next 4K I bring her to do so that we can both have a great time hiking going forward.
All of this being said, we all had a great time for most of the hike, and luckily we didn't get to the point where Lucy was hurt or miserable. I'd still call it a good day because her behavior was great and she listened really well for the whole hike even when she was tired. Even though we had some setbacks, I think she enjoyed it overall and I'm really proud of her!
Mt. Moosilauke (4,802 ft) via. Gorge Brook Tr, Carriage Rd, and Snapper Tr [8.84 mi, 2640 ft, 5:50].