Unrelenting heat in New Hampshire this week, so once the option of Clough came up, that seemed just right. Fairly short, supposed to be an easy whack; a good thing to do on a day that was supposed to be aroudn 90. So we met at the south end of the Tunnel Brook Trail, and before we left Brian was already demanding Joe's Man Card for going off to play croquet the next weekend. The trail starts out as a good road, and started wondering how far we could've driven up this puppy. Answer, not far. The first brook crossing would put an end to that. The trail went on at easy grades with plenty of brook crossings and opportunities for high aperature water shots.
We came to a small pond, which had what looked to be an outhouse, but just was a maintenance shed. A sign said it's catch and release. We also discovered a road here. What the heck? Well, as it turns out, the old folks home maintains this, and the road's gated. OK, nothing lost there. We got up to 2200 feet, and it was time to start out whack for the day. The goal was the standard route up the SE ridge. The woods started pleasant enough. Here's Greg at 2300 feet.
We ended up being below and to the east of the ridge and around 2500 feet, things weren't so good anymore.
So we fought to gain the ridge of purported goodness, and sure enough after a long steep slog up, we emerged to the ridge in wide open woods at 2900 feet.
Along the ridge, a well trod moose path gave us great going, and the grades were equally as excellent.
The occasional limited views opened up. Here's Moosilauke with the cairns on the ridge, which were visible easily with the naked eye.
We passed by one of the blowdown patches (which suspiciously look like fir waves on the satellite pictures), and got a view south, including the always appreciated Kearsarge, barely visible here, but just right of the big hill (Carr) left of center.
We had little problems staying on the ridge and following the moose paths up, seeing many beautiful spots along the way.
And so, other than the mess trying to gain the ridge, and some very short sketchy spots, we made the summit easily, and made excellent time. We started off in clouds, but they cleared early on, but the heat wasn't too bad. Unfortunately, the black flies were now out, and a layer of DEET was needed.
A quick discussion on the route down. Joe kind of wanted to hit the east slides, but others were more in favor of the good route we knew, and staying on the ridge on the way down, so that's the way we went. I yelled out stern warnings against dropping off the ridge (remember this for later...), knowing it's usually a pain to gain it again if you're in crap as you get drawn downhill, and we tried following the moose paths again. Joe wanted to check out a blowdown field for views, and we kept moving. Oops, we lost him. He was there longer than expected. Ah well, Joe frequently goes off on his own and usually comes out ahead of us, so we weren't worried.
For some reason, the woods didn't seem as friendly going down, and we found ourselves just slightly off to the west of the ridge. This is one thing I didn't want, as all the crap is on the west side. So we fought our way back and continued down the spine. I led for a while and suddenly realized I had just done what I warned everyone about. Take that you bossy bitch. So we were now on the west ridge, but low enough below the junk. We talked about hitting a logging road on this side, but it was so far down it'd be a lot faster to head back over the ridge and reconnect with the trail. So off I went for a couple minutes before everyone realized at the same time I was still going in the wrong direction. Argh. That ended my leading for the day.
So we headed at least southerly instead of west, falling further off the ridge, which wasn't that big a deal. There was one last short piece of steep crap woods at 2800', where I slipped at the very end and let out a curse, which was very effective at scaring away a cow and baby moose away. Of course, I didn't see it. I am the anti-moose. From there, it was wide open hardwoods as we came around the trail, popping out just above the pond. Joe caught up to us quickly, having come out near us.
We had talked about maybe finishing my maintenance on the nearby Chippewa Trail, but it was now getting warm down low, and that quickly went away as an option in favor of a blasting A/C in the car. So Clough fit the ticket perfectly for the day, and another straggler bites the dust. Now, what's next?