Saturday, April 9, 2011

"Spend The Day Bein' Lazy, Just Bein' Nature's Friend" - South Moat Mountain

Beautiful Views All Day!

Well, maybe hiking a mountain isn’t exactly what most people would call a lazy activity. However, hiking relaxes my mind and my thoughts better than any other pastime. For that reason, I believe it’s my “lazy” pastime.

Turkey in the Trail

Steep ledges with water runoff

This weekend, I decided to head up to the Conway area and be “lazy” on South Moat Mountain. It’s been on my list for quite a while and I had been yearning to get up to the Whites. Unfortunately, since Lylah is due in less than eight weeks, Jill decided to sit this one out.

Mount Chocorua at ledge lookout area

I made it to the trailhead around 8am and to my surprise, it was pretty warm already. I did pack for a cold day, as you never know what the Whites throw at you. However, most of the warm clothing I brought ended up being extra weight in my pack rather than extra layers on my body. I hiked most of the day in short sleeves.

What I believe is Carter Notch

The trail started off flat and snow covered which soon gave way to mud. A quarter mile up the trail, I turned the corner and there was a turkey standing there with his feathers completely spread out. I was able to snap a few photos and then he scurried along. The trail continued on with stretches of both snow and mud. A mile or so in, the trail started getting steep and the terrain changed from mud and earth to rocks and ledge.

At one point, there were extremely steep ledges to the left of the trail that served as a snow-melt runoff. The trail eventually crossed over the top of the ledges and gave a great outlook to the south, over to Mount Chocorua. The sun kept climbing higher and the water runoff kept getting heavier. The ledges were a bit slick so I was sure to be cautious with every step.

View to the west

Up past the ledges, the trail took on a moderate incline again. However, the snow became much deeper. As the temperature increased, more and more of my steps post-holed a couple feet. At this point, I knew I was close to the summit, so the last thing I wanted to do was take the time to pull out the snowshoes (which was a process the way I had them strapped on).

Mount Chocorua from the summit

I finally made it to the summit and found very blue, crisp skies. To the north, was a great landscape of snow covered Mount Washington. To the east, Conway was below with Kearsarge North overlooking. To the south, Mount Chocorua stood most prominent in the sky. And to the west, the Pemi Wilderness was clear and beautiful. You could even see across the state to the Franconia Notch.

Mount Washington

I sat on the summit, soaked in the sun and views, conversed with a couple other hikers and ate my lunch. It was a great afternoon. After about forty minutes, I packed up all my gear (most of which was extra weight considering the temperatures) and headed back down the Moat Mountain Trail. At this point, my pack was getting heavy and I was getting pretty tired. I’m ashamed to say, I was pretty beat after I finished this 5.4 mile hike. Last year, we finished up the season hiking long loops like the Franconia Notch and Flume/Liberty. Today was definitely a wake-up call for me. I better get my butt in gear if I’m going to tackle Washington in July!


All in all, it was a great day to be in the Whites. I can honestly say, however, that I did miss hiking with Jill today. She’s my day hiking buddy and it did get lonely after a short while without her. Soon, it will be three of us hiking together and I can’t wait for that…only eight weeks left now for new hiker to get here!

Mt. Chocorua over Chocorua Lake...I stopped and took this on the way home off from Route 16



  1. Great post Karl. Holy crap, I can't believe it's only 8 weeks 'til Lylah the peanut will be gracing your family. You know what they say, Three is the magic number.

    Love the views you have too. Robin and I are headed to the Smokies in the morning. Going to hike Porter's Creek. Can't wait, I've been longing for a good hike.

  2. It sure was a gorgeous day all over New England. It seems clear days like this are a rarity in the Whites, or at least they are when I'm there. Glad you got some pictures to prove it's not always raining there :)

  3. Sounds like a great trip, I haven't hiked much in that area! It was a beautiful day for a hike yesterday, I was at Fenway watching the Sox tank again :/ Kind of dismayed to hear there's still significant snow around, we're supposed to do Monadnock in 2 weeks and we don't have snow gear. Hope it's melted by then! Congrats on your impending arrival! :)


  4. I wouldn't beat yourself up over getting tired. I think this is the toughest time of year to hike -- you keep having to change in and out of snowshoes and microspikes and deal with postholes and wet rock, all the while sweating in the spring heat. It's even worse on the way down. It's always tiring when you have to focus on your next step and you can't let your mind wander. Once conditions improve, you'll be flying up the trail...

  5. @Tim - I know, 8 weeks seems so soon, but at the same time, seems so long. I ready for her to get here already! Hope you and Robin had a great time in the Smokies. Can't wait for a trip report!

    @Ryan - It was a fantastic day in the Whites. I'm really surprised I didn't see more people on the trail. I only saw 10-15 people all day.

    @Liz - Monadnock should be OK I think. It is pretty far south from where I was (like 3 hours). Even if there is snow, my guess it will be pretty insignificant in 2 weeks. Sorry you were at Fenway to see that...you missed a good game by a day!

    @Dave - Man, I sure as hell hope so! It was an exhausting day. It was a good day, but I was spent by the time I got back to the truck. You're right though, even walking in the snow was tough as it loosened with every step. And the layers kept coming off and just added weight to my pack. Hope you had a good time on your hike today! Thanks for stopping by.

  6. They must have been sticking to the lowlands like me. I was biking in Acadia, and saw probably about twenty bikers out on the loop road. I wasn't hiking because I assumed it would be muddy. Good time either way, though! I certainly wouldn't complain about the trails being deserted for a while :)

  7. What a beautiful day to be up there (or on any mountain for that matter). Still haven't done the Moats which is just silly since they're so accessible. This gives me one more nudge.

    @Karl - I think the reason you saw so few hikers is that they were all in the Presis this weekend. What a perfect spring weekend to take advantage of!

    @Ryan - Must have been beautiful in Acadia this weekend too. Biking instead of hiking there isn't too much of a compromise. There aren't really any bad outdoor options in the park

  8. Great Report Karl! Glad that spring may have finally arrived? Just a great day to be in New England.

  9. @Ryan - Mark's right...anything you do in Acadia is a treat. Must have been a great day to be there.

    @Mark - I know, looks like the Prezis were full. Some great TR's on VFTT regarding them this weekend. It was perfect weather wise.

    @Jim - Thanks Jim. I hope so. Seems like the warmer/rainy/sunny weather that would indicate spring...but I'm usually not convinced until the end of May. It was definitely a great day to be in New England!

  10. Well said, Mark. Not much of a compromise being anywhere outdoors in New England most of the time. I don't often need reminders why I love living here, but I get them anyway.

  11. Karl,

    I like your definition of lazy!

  12. I think it's funny when I tell people I'm going hiking or backpacking and they say "that's your idea of fun?" I couldn't imagine anything more fun! Great post. I have to get out to that part of the country sometime!

  13. Hi Grant - That quote is from an old Alabama song. I was listening to it on the way home from hiking and the line just stuck in my head...

    Hi Steven - I agree. Hiking is certainly my favorite pastime, although difficult at times like this one was for me when you are over prepared and have taken too much of a hiatus. You definitely need to make your way over to New England and hike in the Whites. Many say it is like no other region of the country. It certainly has its own beauty!

  14. Oh to see the mountains again! Thank you very much Karl for sharing your trip. The views you captured did the heart of this "mostly-flat-lander" a wonder.

  15. Hi Casey - I'm glad you liked the views. I hope to get up to the mountains often this spring/summer/fall, but with a little one on the way, I'm guessing I won't be hiking as much as I did last year. Take care.