Trip Report: Mt Surprise and Mt Moriah

Second time was the charm

Mt Moriah, Gorham, NH. 2019-04-13. (Saturday)

Via Carter-Moriah trail.

Temps 45 dF at car, 63 dF at summit. Wind approx 5-8 MPH at summit, intermittent.

Trailhead: 1110; summit 1500; back at car: 1735.

9 miles there and back again.

I knew on Thursday that I’d be coming back today. The painful part was doing that long drive twice in a week. But there it is.

Looking at the morning’s forecast, I was seeing a lot more clouds than actually materialized. I’ve complained in the past whenever the weather prognosticators blew it, but today, I was thrilled they were off the mark. The day started out cloudy, but they went away as the day progressed. By afternoon, I had fine views, with enough fluffy clouds to provide interest. Heck, even the wind occasionally felt warm and almost summery.

Down low, the trail is very nearly melting down to dirt in most places. Blazes were nearly at eye level. Moving up the trail, the blazes moved progressively down, indicating the trail was still under several feet of snow. Indeed, I buried my trekking pole nearly to the handle not far from the summit. So it won’t be entirely melted for a few more weeks yet.

So this was twice up Surprise in a week, and my second time on Moriah. Oddly, I remembered it being much easier than it felt today. Looking at the AMC book, they confirmed the hike as “strenuous”. However, anyone reading a little of my blog knows what I think of the AMC’s “strenuous” marker. (Pro Tip: it’s absolutely useless, because almost the entire NH 48 list is “strenuous” per them. I contend there’s a huge difference between Mt Adams and, say, the Hancocks.)

Going up Surprise was easy enough. There’s a quick pop coming up off the trailhead, but that’s over in about 50 yards. After that, the grade is mostly easy. But going on past Moriah, things got harder. There’s a bunch of PUDs (pointless ups and downs) that get old quick and wear you out quicker. There’s two spots where the grade is sustained high level exertion. The map says 4.5 miles, but I know other mountains out there with a hike in of equal length that are easier. But there it is.

I started out the first mile on Hillsounds, and the spikes did me well. But beyond that, the trail was mashed potatoes, and I kept slipping back a tiny bit with each step. So it was time to swap into the snowshoes. I made much better time, albeit with heavier feet. I can’t wait until the weather gets much warmer. One peril near the top was stepping off the monorail. It’s a bit difficult to see where the wind can get at it, so it’s not hard to post-hole. Good thing others did, so I could see their mistakes. A few people either post-holed all the way to China, or fell into the belly of the Sarlacc.

The prizes revealed themselves shortly before Surprise’s “summit” and then again on top of Moriah. Today’s views were superlative. Old Speck in Maine, the Carters… the views were limited by the curve of the earth if not by nearby mountains. Otherwise, I’d have been surprised if I couldn’t see Mt Marcy in NY, or Katahdin. Summit was bald for a section of rock about 6-7 feet in diameter. Nice spot for a picnic, for those so inclined.

Bumped into a few nice hikers along the way, which was nice. Overall, traffic on the mountain seemed very light, especially given that it was Saturday. Meh. Of note was the gentleman with two young women, who were hacking away at their NH 48 list — they just nailed down #17, so they’re nearly at the halfway mark, which is pretty sweet. It’s nice hearing my blog helps people plan their trips, as it did for this trio.

I got a relatively earlier start today, albeit one that was still fairly late in the morning. But I made good time up, and very quick time down, and this afforded me the rare luxury of being able to drive home in daylight — at least until I got past Franconia Notch.

So yeah, a good outing.

Northern Presidentials
Fallen Tree
Glacial Erratic?
Gorham and Berlin
Old Speck
Hardwood Forest

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