Salty's Blue-Moosilauke Trip Reports


Hiking Dates



Date Climbed: 08/17/2013

Distance: 11 miles

Low Elevation: 2408 feet
High Elevation: 4802 feet
Elevation Gain: 2910 feet
Elevation Loss: 2910 feet

Start Location: Moosilauke Ravine Lodge
Finish Location: Moosilauke Ravine Lodge
Route: Road walk, Gorge Brook Trail, Snapper Trail, Moosilauke Carriage Road, Beaver Brook Trail, herd path to Blue and back, Beaver Brook Trail, NE whack to Blue and back, Beaver Brook Trail, Asquam Ridge Trail, road walk

Weather: Sunny to some clouds, dry, warm down below, windy and very chilly on summit
Companions: Becky, JustJoe, New Hampshire, HardcoreIdiot, Desi, BobC


I have this memory of Becky very occasionally picking away at the 48. Now she was ready to finish it – where did all the peaks go? :)

The route for the day was Gorge Brook, Snapper, the Carriage Road, and down via Gorge Brook. I was running later than I expected (such a surprise...) and bombed up the ravine road. Lucky for me there was Bob still getting ready. I resisted the urge to run him over. With the stress of a new job, I think he would have appreciated that. No way he's getting out easy. Everyone else was there, and we got underway, and half way to the trailhead, I realized I had no smokes. Dammit! That would not make for a pleasant day. I told everyone I'd catch up, and I went back to the car, retrieved the precious items and headed back up.

And like the last time, I missed the danged turn to Gorge Brook. I assume Dartmouth has a couple extra bucks lying around for a sign, right? And so back down, crossing the bridge when I heard everyone behind me. They apparently thought I'd meet them at the lodge.

It was hard not to notice the trail reroutes due to Irene, and at the old Gorge Brook Trail, someone came up saying one of us left their camera. Hey, I'm not the only one to forget stuff! We hit the junction and I enjoyed the Snapper Trail very much. Nice woods, nice grades.

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Then up the Carriage Road, which I was on last year in winter. Hmmm, a little rockier now. Go figure. Still, not too bad other than the sun heating us up.

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I noticed now, as I did the last time the woods on this section all the way to South Peak were amazingly open. Hmmm, might be a nice bushwhack for a lark. I finally mentioned to Desi that it'd be nice if this climb ended. Apparently several weeks of no hiking other than Black were taking their toll. But then we came to the Glencliff Junction. Becky took a pass on South Peak, and so we motored the remaining mile to the summit, one of my favorite hikes in the Whites.

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I got a peak of Black, where I was last week.

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The views in this section don't disappoint, despite the better ones on the summit. One last climb but quick climb and Becky claimed her cherished prize.

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And then the silliness began.

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Joe brought up some margarita's where someone got a little tipsy on the tequila bottle. And then those of us who partook were rather tipsy. I responded by playing Gollum hiding behind a rock for a group picture. We chilled at the summit for a while. Literally chilled. It was quite breezy and decidedly not warm, and my hands were getting cold. So much for August.

I mentioned I had decided to go down the Asquam Ridge Trail. One, I figured I'd bag Blue while I was here for the Trailwrights list. Not because I'm pursuing the list, only picking up peaks here and there on different lists as they present themselves. Second, because I got badly confused last time I was there and wanted to be sure where the herd path was. I'll spare the details, but old maps, whacking, and ignoring compasses because of old maps do not mix. Greg said he wanted to go along, so I had some company, which was great since Greg and I haven't hiked alone and been able to talk for a good long while.

We said our goodbyes and headed on out, once below treeline off came the layers, it was back into the warmth. We talked quite a bit and made our way, and I told Greg he'd know the path when he saw it, it was damned near a trail. Sure enough, obvious it was. A check of my GPS confirmed my suspicions. The trail headed east (whereas my old map said the trail was only south of Blue). Sigh. We chugged in on a good path, and as we got closer I expected it to peter out as it did last time, but no go. This was a bona fide path all the way to the summit now. Amazing how much use this got in 4 years.

We signed in, my laughing at my old entry mocking the whack, and added a footnote “and then got lost.” Gotta keep things honest. There was a beer can sitting there, a trademark of Joe and I was very puzzled. Joe couldn't have. Well, Joe didn't. And it wasn't empty. Woo hoo! Free beer! Turns out someone was there yesterday, explaining the clean appearance.

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We trod back on the path to the trail and headed down. We got down a bit before I realized, once again, I had left my poles behind. DAMMIT! How. Many. Times! I almost said screw it at this point. I was getting tired of uphills. But Greg got to the point. “Were they expensive ones? Were they Lekis?” Yeah. They are that. Crap. It was far shorter to go straight up for the summit than head back since we were directly below it. Greg said he'd wait. The woods looked like crap, thick pencil woods, but it looked like it might open up above, so I plunged in. As luck would have it, it stayed that way for about half way, but I always managed to find a tunnel of good going before the woods opened right up near the top. Poles retrieved, I opted for the herd path, figuring my luck wouldn't last on the way down.

And so, with a death grip on my poles, we headed on. Events became blurry after that, but I definitely remember the climb up to Jim being more prolonged than it should have. Ooof. We spied several candidates for peaks, but the most likely was right near the trail. And then down. Blessed, blessed down. We met some groups heading up, which was startling given it was 2 PM (never mind the folks heading up at 2:45 further down). One asked how much further. Oh boy. You have no idea. I told myself to watch the NHFG site on Monday.

We had spied the old Joblidunk trail both at the top and bottom, and I made a mental note to give this a whirl someday. Looks exciting. We finally emerged to the cars, where everyone else was firing up the grill. Turns out they arrived 30 minutes before, which would've been more like 10 had I not lost my poles. Oh, how they enjoyed that story. It's the story that never ends!

We sat there chowing down burgers, dogs, chicken and the goodies that go with them, much to the envy of everyone passing us as we were camped on the road. Especially the dogs. They wanted to be our friends in the worstest of ways. Finally, it was time to head out. A most excellent day for a finish and a most excellent finish. Next up, Joe's!

Date Climbed: 08/30/2009

Distance: 10 miles

Low Elevation: 2360 feet
High Elevation: 4802 feet
Elevation Gain: 2950 feet
Elevation Loss: 2950 feet

Start Location: Moosilauke Ravine Lodge
Finish Location: Moosilauke Ravine Lodge
Route: Gorge Brook Trail to Mt. Moosilauke, Asquam Ridge Trail to Mt. Blue herd path to Mt. Blue, wandering around Mt. Blue, then S to Asquam Ridge Trail to TH

Weather: In and out of the clouds, windy and chilly up top
Companions: TrishandAlex,BobandGeri,DaveBear,LawnSale,BikeHikeSkiFish,HappyHiker,more


I had been reading about Trish and Alex’s climb toward the 48, and thought it would be fun to tag along and finally meet some new people in the flesh on the finish on Moosilauke. Alex is an adorable 7 year old who’s done more in a year than I’ve done in about 25. Diito for Trish, her mom (except she’s not 7), who tags along hauling up all kinds of gear and keeps making sure her little girl is safe and mostly happy. My plans were all over the place, with the Baldfaces in the mix, and it looked like there would be a LOT of people (I have an aversion to being the new guy in a large crowd), so I was in and out of this hike, but finally decided to go.

I was staying in Woodstock, so it was a real treat to get up late, and still be at the trailhead early, taking a whopping 20 minutes. There were cars parked all the way down to the service road for the lodge. I started off at around 9:15 or so and immediately took a wrong turn (portending of things to come), ending right back on the Asquam Ridge Trail instead of the Gorge Trail that I wanted. Argh. A quick correction and I was heading in the right direction.

It was pleasant travelling, and I stopped frequently to take water pictures. At the 3300 foot sign I could see a large group ahead. I saw red hair from behind, hmmm, might be Trish, and then spotted the kilt (Madriver). I then knew I had caught up to them. Introductions were made, and there were indeed many familiar names, and it was good to see Bob and Geri again. We went up at a slow pace, as expected when you have little legs with you, and eventually Sage (Alex’s 5 year old sister) got plomped right into the backpack. She was quite cozy and giggly, eventually falling asleep. One Tim would eventually help out Trish and carry her partway up, and another Tim (BikeHikeSkiFish) would help on the way down. Very nice, folks.

We all were pretty much changing places in line here and there, having a pleasant time up, and made it just below the summit, where Dad Hugh was waiting with a big grin on his face upon seeing the girls. We all summitted pretty much right at noon, where there was much cheering, congrats, and picture taking. And lots of posing. Patches were handed out, food, gifts. A nice party on the Moose.

The views were in and out with the clouds, and it was pretty windy and chilly up top. I think I stayed for about an hour. The group’s plan was to stay until 2, but I had decided on the way up to go down Asquam Ridge for a change of scenery and to pack some more miles on, I didn’t feel too bad about cutting out early. Keith D’Alesandro had mentioned Mt. Blue had a jar on it, and hey, that’s on the Trailwright’s list, I’m up here already, why not add a short little whack? Unfortunately, all I had for maps were the AMC maps from the late 80’s or early 90’s, and a printout from the WMG online of the Gorge Brook Trail, which left out pretty much everything from Mt. Jim to past Mt. Blue. Well, that shouldn’t be a problem. Ha ha…

I was looking for the height of land (according to my AMC map), where the peak should lie north. I thought I had gone past it, where lo and behold, an extremely well defined herd path appeared. Joy! Happiness! This will be soooo easy. As I was going in, I was decided getting out my compass would be a swell idea, checked it, and got some strange readings. It had seemed I was going west, but the readings were wayyyy off from that. In fact, I think I even had some southerly readings. Impossible! Something must be wrong with the rocks here or my compass. Ah well, we have a nice herd path. Of course, the Law of Herd Paths clearly states they can only do one thing. Start to peter out. There were a couple of spots it was hard to follow, but by watching the ground carefully, could be picked up again, faintly, but present. More compass checks and more goofy readings. Ehh, getting back shouldn’t be a problem. Ha ha….

Found the jar with ease to see others that had joined us on the summit had been by earlier. Read through it, signed in (I even mocked the bushwhack, ha ha…), and started back. Maybe 100 feet from the summit I lost the herd trail. Hmmm. Checked my compass and again, something wasn’t making sense here. I backtracked, looked carefully, but just could not pick up the trail. I started testing anything that looked remotely like a path only to have to turn around and come back. At one point, my compass said I was going north. No, north is bad, very bad. I had gotten turned around. I could feel the panic rising, and had to tell it to go to hell. OK, I had no decent map of the area, no one knew I was up here (I had merely mentioned I might take the Asquam down to my wife), my compass might be acting goofy, and I couldn’t find my way back. On the other hand, I had enough gear to be out through the night, and clearly going south or if not that, southeast would get me out. But how to know if my compass is OK? I checked the declination to see if that somehow got knocked way off, but no, ‘twas spot on.

“HEY STUPID, USE THE SUN!!!” Ouch, that hurt. It was about 1 o’clock, which pretty much should be around the time of zenith, so it should be as close to south as you can get. Yup, my compass was absolutely fine. Another nagging question was with the initial compass readings, had the maintained trail maybe been relocated north of Blue???? I had no idea. If it had, that might make for some interesting whacking. Well, no choice but to find out. I was below the summit some ways now, way off from the path, and just struck a bearing straight south. The going get fairly thick and I was getting concerned as it was getting steep. Jobildunk Ravine is a very steep drop south of Blue, and I could partially see it in front of me. It was only maybe three minutes later I heard voices ahead, and a huge wave of relief washed through me. Oh, thank you people who happened to be on the trail and talking at that moment. You saved me from one extra minute of anxiety! I fought through the thick stuff just to emerge in the middle of it above the trail to a woman and her dog, who gave me a surprised (understandably) look. I apologize, explained I was bushwhacking and had lost the herd path, and I’m not sure she understood (or trusted) a word I was speaking. I bounced down to the trail and the Perv in the Trees quickly sped off.

The rest of the hike was wonderfully pleasant, albeit muddy in places. One large rocky outcrop was fully covered in moss. It was also nice to hike along the Baker River. The whole trip (in general) was great. It was super to be on someone’s finish, and to meet a whole bunch of folks finally. I haven’t been above treeline in decades, so this was a real treat, too.

Looking back, I suspect the herd path comes in from the west, possibly even WNW, which would explain the readings I was seeing (what I remember of them). Again, the USGS 7.5 minute map clearly shows it doesn’t come in from the south, given the gentle terrain I went through on the way up.

Lessons learned should be obvious. I made the most basic of mistakes that every dope that gets lost in the woods does. Not trusting my compass and not taking more careful mental notes of direction and terrain going in was the worst, not having a decent map follows a close second. And never trust a herd path. Best I can say is it was a good learning experience with no more damage than a bruised ego. Once I stopped and really thought things through, it was obvious what to do.