Here I will share my travels throughout the majestic White Mountains of NH and also delve into some of the area's rich history and forgotten places. I do this in hopes of getting others excited about exploring these wonderful places.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mt. Moriah Attempt #1 - 2/25/09

As one who enjoys hiking, I spend a fair amount of time reading trip reports and trail conditions online. I frequently read reports of people being turned back during there hikes for various reasons, mostly weather-related, before reaching their destination. Fortunately I’ve yet to be forced to cut a hike short. This lucky streak ended on this particular trek.

I had decided to hike up Mt. Moriah via the Carter-Moriah Trail from Gorham on this crystal clear day. A few days before the hike we had a rather large snowstorm, I thought I would save myself a huge amount of effort breaking trail and give it an extra day for other people to pack out the trail. However, upon arriving at the trailhead I found that it hadn’t been touched since the snowfall. Trail breaking is incredibly strenuous and is usually done in groups, with the leader breaking trail for a while before stepping to the side and going to the back of the line, and the next person in line does the same, and so on. The prospect of breaking out the 4.5 mile (9, round trip) trail by myself was not at all appealing, but it was a beautiful day and I didn’t want to have driven up there for nothing. I decided I’d give it a go.

A lower (not-so-deep) section of unbroken trail

From the start the snow was about 2 feet deep and the indentations from the trail could be seen clearly. While this made for easy route finding, the stomping through the snow was getting tiring quickly. The trail ascends over a minor hump called Mt. Surprise before climbing up the main peak of Moriah. After a little more than a mile, the muscles in my legs where already getting worked heavily. I had almost decided that I would turn around upon reaching Mt. Surprise when I remembered the ”rest step”, and put it into action. The “rest step” is a method of hiking that allows your legs to rest while you walk. This is done by locking the knee of the rearmost leg while the other leg is moving forward. Locking the knee takes all the weight off the muscles and puts it on the bones instead, allowing the muscles to rest for a brief moment. While I find this method too slow and “clunky” for warm-weather hiking, it seemed to work really well in this application. I came to the summit of Mt. Surprise and thanks to the newfound energy I decided to continue. By this point, however, the snow had already become quite drifted, erasing any sign of the trail and was around 4 feet deep. After another mile and a half, my legs begged me to turn around. I had to agree with them after it took around 20 minutes to gain only a tenth of a mile. I turned around and began the painful 3 and a half mile trudge out. Since I was the only traveler on that particular trail that day, it was almost as hard hiking back though all that snow as it was the first time. Needless to say, I don't think I was ever so happy to see my car.

View from Mt. Surprise ledges

While it was a shame to not get to the top on such a gorgeous day, I was still rewarded with some great semi-panoramic views off to the North and to the West to the Northern Presidentials from the ledges around the top of Mt. Surprise. Moriah will still be there the next time. See you then!

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