I hope that you all had a good Thanksgiving and a great weekend!! I spent the weekend up in NH with my fiancé and his family. We celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday, and then his birthday on Saturday with an awesome hike to #optoutside on Friday in between.
I only have 7 hikes left to complete the NH 48 4000-footers…..but they are all pretty long. We wanted to be back, showered, and ready to go for dinner & drinks at Poor People’s Pub (good grub, cheap beer) Friday night, so we chose Mt. Moosilauke for our hike. The trail we picked, the Gorge Brook Trail, had a book time of 5 hours. We did it in 4.5, but we had to add an hour because the gate to the access road was shut and locked so we had to walk another 1.5 miles in and out from the trail head. That happens in the fall/winter.
The Gorge Brook Trail, Al Merrill Loop, Ridge Trail, and Snapper Ski Trail all start near the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge. The lodge and bunkhouses are owned by the Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC) from Dartmouth College in Hanover NH. The DOC is legendary in the White Mountains. Their love for outdoor activities, particularly winter sports has made the White Mountains what it is today, a region dotted with ski resorts, and home to cross country ski trails, snowshoeing trails, and backcountry skiing. Really many of the first mountaineers in the Whites were from the DOC, some from Harvard too. These were the first mountaineers out west in many cases too. They were men that loved sport, competition, and endurance….and had the privilege and opportunity to travel and play in the mountains.
I have already hiked Mt. Moosilauke from a trail on the other side of the mountain, Glencliff, so this was my first time seeing the lodge. It’s really neat, bunkhouses named after different classes, a swimming hole for the class of 07, and the lodge itself is huge! They offer lodging to the public, students/alumni get a discount, and offer meals too. It’s also home to the trail crew, a group of students that maintain 17 cabins and ~50 miles of trails between the lodge and the campus in Hanover.
The hike itself was great, trail was not too rocky, lots of rock stairs, some ice towards the summit. The trails are very well marked by orange signs and very well taken care of. There are a couple re-routes which can be annoying, but are also signs of good trail stewardship. For this mountain, they have been moving the trails up and away from the riverside because of erosion and damage from hurricanes in the past.
Dartmouth owns the Gorge Brook watershed, something like 4500 acres on Mt. Moosilauke and the surrounding area. It is named after C. Ross McKenney, an avid woodsman who oversaw the building of the main lodge in 1938. The lodge was saved after many years of disuse in the 50s by Al Merrill, the Director of Outdoor Programs and Ski Coach at the time.
The summit of Moosilauke is above treeline. It can be extremely windy up there because its the furthest west of the 4000 footers and catches undeterred wind all the way from Vermont. There is a stone foundation up on the summit, the remains of an old hotel up there in 1860. It was first called the Prospect House, later called the Tip Top House. The Carriage Road Trail was originally used to reach the hotel. It was lovingly run by Dartmouth students from 1920 until it burned down in 1942. The hotel on Mt. Washington was also called the Tip Top House. I just couldn’t get a pic of it on this hike, the wind was gusting to ~50 mph. It was tough to stand up and walk at times.
I absolutely love the history in the White Mountains. All the old hotels, mountain huts & shelters from a time when the train was the only way to get up there. To see what it looked like up there in its hey day. Not all of it was good of course, the White Mountain National Forest was almost leveled for lumber and to create farmland. I definitely prefer it with the trees, but the glimpses of the past are much appreciated.
I would like to explore the lodge more when its open. They open in May and close November 1st. Don’t worry, my fiancé is doing the grid for the 48, so he has done Moosilauke in 3 months so far, 9 more to go!
What did you do to #optoutside on Friday? Have I inspired anyone to come to NH and see the Ivy League accommodations at the ravine lodge? Please say yes! 🙂