When your employer shuts down for the holidays and you find yourself with nearly two weeks off what would you do? For me the answer was "bag some peaks". I took to the White Mountains of New Hampshire for some time outdoors.
Mt. Moosilauke Take Two
With my "basecamp" setup in Southern Vermont each hiking day offered the driving equivalent of a marathon. Three hours up, hike, then three hours back. My drive to Mt. Moosilauke included snow and plenty of obstacles.
The fresh powder however was a welcome sight once we hit the trail. my dog Apollo joined me for his first winter trek.
I was concerned about Apollo being too cold, but we made steady progress through lunchtime. As we neared the final approach to the summit Apollo started acting different. We noticed that he would walk in circles and pack down a bed of snow each time we paused. I looked him in the eyes and knew we would not be summiting that day. Having climbed 90% of the mountain we turned around and headed home.
A few days later I was back at the base of Mt. Moosilauke. This time with a few friends who were out for their first winter 4,000 footer.
The weather was overcast but relatively calm below tree-line. We moved at a decent clip through the forested area. Along the ridgeline I took a few minutes to leave behind a trinket from a side project that I'm working on.
Our proximity to the summit seemed to invite a corresponding increase in the wind. We navigated from frozen cairn to frozen cairn admiring the geometry of the ice. The final hundred yards to the summit welcomed us with gusts around 55 MPH. We snapped a photo and turned around for the hike back down.
Jackson Webster Loop
I hit the Webster Jackson look with my hiking buddy Rick the Monday before heading back to work. It's not often that you get the "perfect" day during a New England winter, but this day was about as good as I've ever seen. Temperatures hovered around 30 F, skies were clear and blue, and wind was nonexistant even above treeline.
A thick layer of fluffy snow covered every imaginable surface which truly transformed the forest into a winter wonderland.
Our time on the summit was relaxed and peaceful. My view of Mt. Washington to the North-East was punctuated by gray jays frequently flying past or even landing on my hand.