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
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
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.
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!
Andrew, Moosilauke treeline
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).
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!
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.
South Summit and Glencliff trail