South & Middle Moat | 11/6/22
A couple of weeks ago my friend and co-instructor Maeve had reached out about a camping trip and as interested as I was, I knew it was going to be another month before I had an open weekend. So, pushing the trip out to November, I had almost no hope it would happen due to how early we’d gotten snow in 2021. Yet, when the week rolled around, we were looking at seventy-degree temps, no significant precipitation (for the 9th weekend in a row), and two bluebird mornings. So then I had to ask myself, "what is the most exciting single day I can plan for someone who wasn't born and raised in New Hampshire?"
Maeve, who hails from just outside of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania was in need of a proper introduction to New Hampshire. I planned out a considerable loop over North Moat so that she could experience Diana’s Bath, an open summit, an exposed ascent, and a treed-in descent. But, even though we left sort of early, I glanced at the GPS and it was warning for a 10:30 arrival. Even though I knew that in no leaves I could get anyone up that route in time, I had a bad feeling about it and opted for switching to the other Moats- saving us at least four miles.
By the time we were walking towards the gate off Passaconaway Road, it was 10:45 am and the number of cars was unfamiliar to me. Not because I was starting so late, but because I’m usually not doing things that the public is interested in. But today was different and I was not about to put Maeve through aimless miles in the Sandwich range or small trails in North Randolph; rather we’d embark on one of the most envied 52s with lots of things for me to point at on the summit.
The trail first follows a dirt road after the gate for a few paces before turning uphill into an open forest with a wide footpath. The whole trail follows a consistent set of yellow blazes that are unneeded in the first dirt-footed mile but greatly appreciated as we started to crest the slabs. The first open slab gives a tiny sample to the future but does return to a leaf-covered dirt path for another moment before reaching the tree revegetation area.
I read some reviews complaining of the difficulty to follow, but I did not find it to be challenging as we worked up the loose but nowhere-near talus rock. It was imperative to watch footing due to the incredibly slippery leaves, but the trail itself presented little challenge here. Past the relocation, we began to ascend a dry and forgiving slab which made for a fun section with open views.
Continuing up the similar slab, we went in and out of the woods a couple of times before finally getting to the final half mile, which feels like the last push with consistent but pleasant elevation gain. Once we got to the summit, we touched the true summit and then settled on a rock to the left where I pointed out all the mountains and valleys in sight, particularly the ones I’d been on recently. With a long break behind us, we made the ever-so-pleasant half-mile(ish) walk to Middle Moat before making our full descent. Due to stick season, it took us just as long to get down as up. I refused to obtain another sprain because of a leaf fall.
After the hike, we acquired all of the ingredients for Ryan & I’s signature mac and cheese and met up with him at Cathedral Ledge where we ended up cooking dinner atop the Thin Air wall. Listening to bacon crackle as we watched the sun go down over North Conway was undeniably incredible
With pleasant sleeping temps, no bugs, and great company, the weekend I didn’t think would happen ended up being one of the best this semester.
Final Stats: 6.47 Miles | 2,118 Gain | 1 Spruce Grouse