It’s the end of winter as we know it, and it was fine.
Mt Moriah, Gorham, NH. 2018-03-19. (Monday)
Via Carter-Moriah trail.
Between 10-20 dF +/- and cloudy. Wind at summit was 8-10 knots.
Trailhead: 0945; summit 1330; back at car: 1620.
9 miles there and back again.
As I write this, astronomical springtime is hours away. Per the AMC, despite mounds of snow remaining on the trails, winter is over. I have ten winter hikes toward my 48. If not for the recent blizzards, I might have had a dozen or more, but ten is still a nice round number.
It was an epic day to be outside. The trail was perfectly broken, and while I wore snowshoes, I doubt I’d have had a hard time with just micro-spikes. By a cosmic dint of luck, I met a hiker whom I’d met on the trail at Passaconaway, and we enjoyed each other’s companionship on the hike. His professional training is in geology, so conversation was delightful.
The sun shone all day, unmediated by clouds. A brisk wind blew through the trees above, and at ground level, wasn’t felt as more than a breeze. In the open areas, zipping up my shell was sufficient. Because the trail was in such lovely shape, we made great time to the summit.
The “big boys” across the way — Washington, Adams, et al — showed lenticular clouds over their summits, but even these cleared out toward the second half of the afternoon, and we were afforded unbroken views of the Presidential range in all its majesty.
There had been some recent trail maintenance activity — some blow-downs freshly sawn (as in, since the last snowfall, as evidenced by conspicuous piles of sawdust) which made passage through those areas easy. A couple other blow-downs that we crawled under.
One blow-down was an uprooted tree, around halfway up, by the side of the trail. At the bottom of it’s roots, we could see blue ice — groundwater, most likely. It was an interesting lesson into the hydrology of the mountain, seeing just how close to the surface the underlying water really is.
It was a huge day. We hiked under a canopy of snowy branches, a deep blue sky above in stark contrast. Occasional yellows from the beech trees, deep greens from the spruces. A large hole bored by a woodpecker. Trees creaking quietly from the wind above. Winter is officially over, but in the coming weeks, this magic will still remain, here and there.