Tuesday, July 17, 2012

On the threshold of the White Mountains

Sunday, July 8, 2012:

Today was about setting the groundwork for tomorrow - hiking to the final jumping off point from which I will climb Mt. Moosilauke tomorrow.  Moosilauke is the first of the White Mountains that the AT visits going northbound, and the first place the AT goes above timber line.  I can't wait.

But that's not really giving today the credit it deserves - a very nice hiking day through some nice easy terrain.  I hiked from NH 25C to NH25 and then on up to the parking lot on High Street above Glencliff, NH.  That is where the day hikers park if they want to climb Mt. Moosilauke.

The first section, between the Highways 25 involves an easy climb over Mt. Mist.  Coming down the north side of this hill, you come to a trail junction that gives you an opportunity to hike most of a mile up to a viewpoint on Webster Slide Mountain (which I didn't do) and to hike less than 0.2 miles and come to the shores of Wachipauka Pond (which I did do ... photo at left).

There was a genuine ford required over Oliverian Brook.  It's kind of a shock.  You cross busy NH 25 going northbound then quickly plunge into the woods, and not ten feet beyond you come to a dead stop at a sheer ten foot high drop-off.  On the other side of the stream is a cairn, and the trail continues on as if nothing strange had happened.  You cannot descend that cliff.  Even if you jump, your landing point is on submerged rocks in the water.  Irene must have washed away the approach on this side.  Anyhow, there's an ad-hoc side trail that gets you down to the water a dozen yards upstream.  This is a real 'take-your-shoes-and-socks-off' ford - haven't had many of those so far.

The trail meanders up to Jeffers Brook Shelter and then hits the road for half a mile - first on gravel Long Pond Road and then up High Street to where the trail enters the woods just before the nice parking lot.  That's where I park tomorrow, so it was my turn-around point today.

On my way back south, leaving NH 25 after making the ford a second time (my feet haven't been this clean in two weeks!) I found freshly placed trail magic as I entered the woods - a few beers, Clif Bars, sodas, pretzels - a real nice assortment in a cooler and a paper bag.  Amazingly, this is the first genuine trail magic I've encountered in my entire three months of hiking from Southern PA north - a sure sign that the thru-hiker bubble is catching up with me.

Weather for tomorrow looks great - bright skies, low humidity - it may be windy and chilly up on the bald, tundra 4800-foot summit of Moosilauke, but the views ought to be spectacular.  Stay tuned ...


Here are a map and elevation profile of the day's hike:

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