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We continued west on the AT, traversing around the summit of Mt Blue and into a very pretty section of mature but somewhat altitude-stunted fir trees. Down at trail-level in the trees, we were treated to a ghostly, gloomy scene with nearly everything coated in shadowy whites. A little further on, we came to a lookout over this same section of forest. From above, these same trees looked like a sea of knarled, frosted lumps.
Another snowpack-induced view
Setting Moon
Snowy gloom
Mt Blue
Frosted Forest
Frosted Forest
Now past Mt Blue, we continued west, with Mt Moosilauke's summit now quite close. We only had about 3/4 of a mile (1 km) to go to the summit, and only about 350 feet left to climb. Trail conditions were still perfect, and more than hard enough to obviate the need for snowshoes. Everything was coated in dry, cold snow. Even though we were on the cusp of April, it was still fully winter here.
Marching onwards to Moosilauke
Start of final ascent
Beautiful winter trail
We arrived at the junction with the Benton Trail (an alternate route from below to the summit) shortly thereafter. I remembered from my last trip up Moosilauke that the treeline was coming up very shortly, and it was probably best to put some layers back on to deal with any winds that we'd [likely] encounter above the trees. We checked the temperature, and it was holding steady at about -8C (18F). Chilly for the beginning of April.
Nearly buried
Final tunnel to treeline
Emerging at treeline
Less than five minutes of additional climbing brought us to treeline. On Moosilauke (unlike many peaks in the northeast), this is a very abrupt event. There is suddenly an opening in the trail, and - bam - the trees stop and an expanse of tundra stretches away above, with a line of huge cairns marking the continuation of the trail towards the summit. A very clean and definite transition!
courtesy JInnes
courtesy JInnes
Andrew, Moosilauke treeline
Alpine terrain starts
Observing the route
We were glad for our recent re-layering break, for it was indeed a bit breezy up here. I wouldn't call it "windy", but brisk enough. Combined with the ambient air temperature, my guess was that the wind produced a chill effect of around -20C (-4F).
courtesy JInnes
courtesy JInnes
Edge of the trees
Cairns mark the way
Andrew, for scale
We took our time enjoying this last very scenic stretch to the summit. Views were 360-degrees, including excellent views of much of the White Mountains to the east. Franconia Ridge and Mt Lafayette were impressive-looking in the relatively near foreground. In the far distance were all of the higher Presidential Mountains, including a completely white-topped Mount Washington. Lots of good snow this year!
Wide open terrain
Wide open terrain
Jenn approaching summit
courtesy JInnes
Arriving at summit
Andrew arrives at summit
Mt Moosilauke summit
We arrived at the summit right about at 9am - a very respectable 3.5 hours after starting out. Arriving at an early hour like this provided nice angled lighting.
courtesy JInnes
South Summit and Glencliff trail
White Mountains View
Zastrugi/Hoar?
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(last message posted on Sun. Apr. 07, 09:43 EDT 2013 by Julie Moran)
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