Saturday started at 6am and was bitterly cold outdoors making it all the harder to leave the sanctuary of a warm bed but a long drive north was on the cards as I was meeting my hill walking chum Lesley at the trail head for 9am , so no lingering in the womb like embrace of the down comforter for me… after a quick wash and my flask of tea brewed I was out the door and driving , head filled with adventure and mountain day dreams.
If you’ve been following my wanders you’re now well aware of the fact that I have a love of these White Mountains in New Hampshire, I guess I feel close to my native Scotland when I hike them , the rock , moss and even the trails remind me of days spent scrambling around Glen Coe or spending airy afternoons on a ridge high above Glen Shiel in Kintail….all this should come as no surprise to me considering that a mere few million years ago before the break up of the continents these two lands were once one….fascinating thought and one that I like to ponder upon while drinking hot tea by a loch side with a view to fuel my imagination.
The road to Mt Moosilauke, my chosen hill for today took me through a slice of forgotten America , hidden deep inside New Hampshire by the vast forests and huge mountains these small rural villages that I was sweeping past looked as though they had been left behind, almost like a Brigadoon , abandoned by modern man and left to smolder in the reek of wood burning hearths, apple-wood tobacco and corn cob pipes…..oh how I love these places , long may they stay hidden and safe from the mayhem of this digital world that we call progress.
Pulling into the busy trail head car parking dirt lot I was greeted by my chum Lesley , a hillwalking , ice climbing outdoor enthusiast …always up for a mountain challenge in any weather ….I often wonder if this girl is married to the fresh air. After exchanging happy new years and strapping on our boots we were off…crunching across frozen snow and ice and into the heavy snow laden trees that would pretty much keep us company the whole way up this 4800 foot hulk of a hill , the snow on the branches sat thick like the pink fiber used to insulate lofts but only this was white or brilliant white with a tinge of sky blue the deeper you peered into the trees. We hiked fast chatting of this and that , stopping every now and then to gaze at the surrounding vista…blissfully unaware of the fellow hikers that we past as we trudged higher and higher,closer to our summit goal.mooslilauke 1
One thing I’d like to mention about meeting fellow hikers on the trail or any trail for that matter is that considering both parties are complete strangers one can strike up the most pleasant of conversations full of smiles and laughter….try that in a busy street down in city land and I fear the same result will not be forthcoming…..it is simply the magic of the wild places working its ways…reconnecting us with some sort of inner happiness that is blocked out when we travel moosilauke 2the concrete jungles of city land.
We arrived on the summit after a couple of hours of hard hiking , the sweat on my back taking no time at all to chill once I stood in the open without the protection of the trees that lined the trail up…we followed the carriage way to the actual summit cairn where we stood in awe of the surrounding beauty…wind whipped and clear…the mountains laid out before us like ripples on some massive brown carpet laid down by the creator himself, both of us struck silent by the majesty of it all. The summit is large and open and on a cold winters day like this there is no hiding place from the biting winds so after taking some photos a fast retreat was all that I was thinking about…back to the trees at the trail head…where once there I could break out my trusty flask and heat myself up with its delightful contents. Although not as cold as my last White Mountains adventure up Mt. Garfield this was indeed an arctic like feeling and I was so grateful for my charcoal hand warmers that were now working their magic inside my Gore-tex mitts like hot water bottles in your bed on a frosty night…my mind struggling to comprehend why my hands were sweating on such a cold day….these little pocket furnaces are my new friend.
Our wander down the hillside took more concentration due to the steepness and it being snow packed with plenty of ice…saying this, it didn’t take us long to arrive back at the cars glowing with the post mountain buzz ….if you climb you’ll know what am talking about….saying that, a day out sauntering the woods, a river bank or a shell covered beach will give you this same buzz….I challenge you to go find this buzz I speak off…find it and enjoy it…find it and hold onto it…place it in your memory so that you can visit it whenever you wish…visit it so many times that you have to go back out to nature and create new memories….and you might find that in finding ” it ” you will find something that you lost a long time ago…try it.