This was a hike-nh.com group hike. We started at the southern end of the trail, which starts out with great footing and easy grades. Before long, the long climb began in earnest with one particularly long and steep stretch ending at some ledges with limited views, which were further limited thanks to clouds around 3000 feet and copious haze. At least I got my first blueberries of the year.
From here, the climb up to S. Moat was fairly unremarkable, a series of climbs with the rare flat patch for some relief. I was so busy watching my feet I went off trail a couple of times. The blazing in this section is pretty sporadic and faded, with a lot of herd paths. Russ remarked I was no longer allowed to lead. No, really, I wasn't trying for a group bushwhack, I swear! Well, not totally unremarkable, we came across Joe and Becky heading down, which was a nice surprise.
We breaked at S. Moat, taking in what views we could, and playing the what peak is what game, failing miserably due to the unique perspectives from this area. Later I found out I at least got to see Bear, Tremont, S. Hancock and some other mountains. Table Mtn. had some nice cliffs and ledges that look fun.
We could see folks over on M. Moat, who were Randall and his family, who got a head start on us. Eventually, we made the short easy trip over there through a mix of different, but all pretty pleasing woods. We came across a grouse and 3 chicks along the way, ticking mommy off as we all watched and took pictures. Once on top, I made the short trip over to the true summit before going over and saying hello. Another break and then off to the junction of the Red Ridge Trail, located on a small knob. For whatever reason, I was feeling great today, let loose on this section and practially ran up to the knob. It felt awesome, despite that I was sucking wind like crazy. Nothing I'd want to do as a matter of course, but fun for a try.
Another break playing on the rocks there, and off to N. Moat. I took a more sane pace with Russ and Bob, and the climb at this point just didn't seem that bad after so much elevation gain to get on the ridge. Unfortunately, the summit was in the clouds, which broke only a little before we left. I saw a green blob waving to us, which we finally figured out was Greg, with Desi. Always great to see them, too, and we had a nice chat. I dumbly pointed out the socks I grabbed out of my drawer, which were my wife's with nice lacing and a little rose on it. Greg smartly took a picture while I wasn't looking. I don't know why I set myself up for this...
We headed down through some initially steep stuff. I was in one of my I don't feel like exercising my brake muscles so off I flew down through scrubby ledgely, but generally not steep woods, passing a number of groups until I got to the Attitash junction. I pondered waiting there, but figured Diana's Baths would be more pleasant to wait.
I asked a couple groups where the turnoff to the baths were, to puzzled looks, but was assured I hadn't missed it. I was watching closely upon hearing lots of kids to make sure I didn't miss it, and then I found out why people thought I was nuts. It's right next to the trail. So, I soaked my feet (COLD!!!!), explored and took a bunch of pictures. I hadn't realized how fast I must have been going until Randall's family showed up 40 minutes later, with the rest of the crew arriving about an hour after I got there. Oops. Not very group hikey of me. We had some more chats, and finally I was reading to get homeward bound, so I brought Matt with me to the car spot. This is definitely a hike I'd like to repeat in better weather, but it was pretty cool to get 2 52 WAVs, a NH300 and a NH3k peak all in one day.