A feeling of ill-preparedness swept over us as we pulled into the Moat Mountain trailhead parking lot and spotted two hikers at the trail-head outfitted in insulated pants, gaiters, and winter boots. We sat behind the wheel for a moment, in our shorts, wondering if we were under dressed. Would our journey to 3,000 ft. really be in knee deep snow in April? I locked the truck door and we made our way, sighing, across the parking lot. Leaping over the snow bank, I landed swiftly on a patch of early spring mud. And so went today’s hike – definitely snow, but heavily packed, with spots of early spring mud.
TRAIL: South Moat Mountain Trail
Spring outings require planning (or, so says the guy in shorts). A check on the NOAA weather station revealed a high today of 55. Without so much as a cloud in the sky, shorts seemed in order. A good wool base layer, a warm fleece, and a soft shell jacket will make up for exposed legs. I’m warm-blooded and like freedom of movement anyway, plus this hike would have a bit of scrambling over rocks and roots.
Peeling off outer layers was an immediate response to the sun beating down upon our shoulders. The elevation gain teamed up with snow just soft enough to make putting one foot in front of the other a workout on the hamstrings and quads.
The forest has a fresh look this time of year. The Spruce and Pine trees all seem to have a deep green luster standing out from that fading and dull-colored snow.
Left: Basking in the Sun. Right: Nature at its best.
The heart of the White Mountains revealed itself to us with a 360 degree mountainous panorama. Winds picked up significantly rising above tree line, drying the hours of perspiration. The cool temperatures felt nice, for a short period of time, before we found our outer layers again.
A quick-moving stream provides fresh mountain run-off to top off our water bottles.
Kicking the snow off the boots and giving the pup a break.
Blues and greens are winning the war over white.
Before heading back down, I pause and gaze over to Mt. Washington, the jewel of New England. Still snow-capped, you can watch blowing snow whip about it’s peak. For today, I’ll settle for a hike involving shorts. Summer is around the corner, my tent is packed and I need some campfire for my soul.