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  • Writer's pictureIzzy Risitano

Moats via Red Ridge and Moat Mountain Trail | 7/27/23

Though it was just as hot as yesterday’s hike, it wasn’t raining! So we had no choice but to hit another big day with plenty of exposure. Again, I woke up at White Ledge, but this time oriented much faster and quickly got ready for the day, made an edible breakfast, and packed up camp. We were out of White Ledge just after 7, plenty ready for the 11.5 miles ahead.

Ascending Red Ridge

As far as hiking energy goes, I was right on today. In addition to 9.5 hours of sleep, I’d also taken down a can of pre-workout. This was great for Liz, as I talked for the first two miles while she continued to wake up… at least I think it was great! Those first two miles, of course, are some of the more highway-like trails in the Whites, only really starting to feel like a significant hike after the junction with Red Ridge Link. After the Link, we passed the familiar fire roads surrounding Thompson Falls before gaining any substantial elevation.

A moose stump


At exactly 3 miles in, at the base of THE Red Ridge, the gain gets going. From mile 3 to 4.5, we gained 1600 feet. It wasn’t hard, but it was worthy of breaks in the burning sun we were exposed to. Fortunately, the 4.5-mile mark brings one up to the junction with Moat Mountain Trail. Just before the intersection, we met a family led by “Chey,” who introduced himself to me after seeing the Where’s Izzy pin on my backpack, figuring it was my name tag. Which, it sort of is, but not exactly.


Shortly thereafter, Liz and I stopped for a break so we could garner enough energy to break through thirty-something spider webs out to Middle Moat. The way to was slow going, literally just because of the webs, and I was delighted to meet my active blue line with last November’s green line when Maeve and I did South and Middle. I took a moment to message Maeve, who had just come down from New Mexico’s highest peak, Mount Wheeler, to see if she recognized the surroundings.

As we walked back from Middle, Liz told me she had a plan. “What is it?” I asked her. “I am going to live right here and not come down.” She said. I chuckled, and we got to that really meaning she's going to descend Red Ridge instead of gaining more elevation over North Moat with me. At the junction, she kindly shared some water with me and wished me luck on the “rage hike” I’d been craving.

Bit of an intimidating scramble, powered through

The effort, of course, was about that “life change” I mentioned a few posts ago. I killed a mile, with 650 feet of elevation gain, in 16 minutes without even breaking into a run. When I got to the top of North Moat, I took advantage of the empty summit to yell at the valley below me. I’d never done that before, but it felt right. After I got some of my angst off my chest, I opened my phone for a minute to reread some text messages I wish I hadn’t gotten. With them, I took a deep breath, looked up at the much bigger world in front of me, and smiled at the mountains that made me the person I love long before any sort of job, or title, or ex-boyfriend ever could. I was here for me. I always had been, I think I just got a little lost along the way.

North Moat <3

Leaving North Moat felt like leaving a trail of external motivators behind me, tuning further into my intrinsic ones. The potential to be the youngest tracer, working on more meditative solo hiking, lots of cheese on summits, and knowing I’ll be able to look back at these entries in a whole compilation eventually. I have a lot to look forward to. Things are only going up.

The descent from North Moat wasn’t so bad. It was a quick one for me, as I desperately tried to beat Liz back to our junction. Just before the tree line, at exactly 1:30, I ran into a group of three and a husky that warned me about a snake that choked on a big toad down the trail. I thanked them for the warning but didn’t ask how far away it was.

A snake choking on a toad...

Soon enough, I found out. Just minutes after my interaction, the snake had stopped moving and both had perished in the middle of the trail. It was a MASSIVE snake. I attached a very zoomed-out photo so no one else has to see what I saw up close- zoom in at your own risk. I swiftly hopped around it and ran for a good minute before I slowed down and shook that off.

Though the trail was steep until the eventual junction with the Attitash Trail, it wasn’t technical and I didn’t need to throw my poles at all. That’s a big deal for me!

At the aforementioned intersection, I met up with Lucy Brook and followed her another mile-and-a-half to where Liz was to pop out from Red Ridge. I adored this stretch, wide and flat ground made for a walk so fast it may have been faster than a run! Letting my legs take full stride after a significant downhill is a feeling like no other.

One of the many gorgeous pools leading up to Diana's

To our great surprise, Liz and I emerged from our trails at the same time. We didn’t even communicate the timing! With nothing but a mile left, we were back at the car in no time. Liz went ahead to change, and I stuck my head in Diana’s Bath. Nothing like the psycho hiker coming down to disturb the unassuming families enjoying the falls.

Back at the car, I put on my boiling sunbaked Crocs and enjoyed the salad I meal prepped three days ago that was perfectly chilled in the cooler. The parking situation was sort of a nightmare for cars trying to get it, but it was simply not my problem. On the way back south, we stopped at the White Mountain Trading Co. in Lincoln where I picked up some new dorm décor and enjoyed the plentiful smells of fresh tea through the room. If you haven’t been yet, I recommend it!


This might be my 15th White Mountain's print now...

Thanks for bearing with me as I divulged my personal life. These reflections have never been fictional- leaving that moment out wasn’t going to happen if this post was to be written.

Final Gaia Stats:

11.2 Miles

3191 Gain

1 snake choking on a toad (ew)

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Jul 28, 2023

Thanks for sharing, "Psycho Hiker". I appreciate your openness. And your enthusiasm!

Izzy Risitano
Izzy Risitano
Jul 28, 2023
Replying to

Haha, thank you very much!


Gregory Naigles
Gregory Naigles
Jul 28, 2023

Great post! I was wondering something. You say that you're interested in becoming the youngest tracer - do you happen to know who the current youngest tracer is? (I have no idea - I'm honestly curious.)

And I appreciate your only posting the zoomed-out picture of the snake, since I read this while I was eating breakfast this morning...

Finally, don't feel bad about writing about your personal life. I'm glad you were able to share it and that I was able to read it.

Izzy Risitano
Izzy Risitano
Jul 28, 2023
Replying to

Yes! I believe the current youngest finished at 25. To my knowledge there’s another person who has potential to beat that with 23 or 24... depends on a lot though! I just turned 20, so while I know I could finish by 23 if I made it a top priority, I also have to finish school and stuff so who knows.

Given I didn’t personally look at the snake for long I wasn’t going to subject readers to it, lol!

Thank you for your kind words. Always appreciate it!

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