Saturday, November 26, 2011

2011.11.26 South Moat Mtn - Small Stature; Big Views

For late November, this was a stunning day.  Temps in our home town of Dover, NH hit 60 degrees and I estimate they got to the high 40's during this hike.

The "Moats" are a series of three mountains, North, South & Middle Moat.  We hiked North Moat this summer during a heat wave (North Moat Mtn).  Our plan today was to do South Moat and then if we felt up to it we would continue on to Middle Moat and back, an in and out trip.  On my last two trips I struggled with my asthma and though it was better today, it still wore me out getting to the top of South Moat so we canned the idea of Middle.  I think I may have done a week's worth of breathing in just a few hours.

South Moat is not tall in stature at only about 2,700 feet however, the views are wide open, 360 degrees and memorable.  According to my GPS the total elevation change, including some undulations, was 2.400 feet.  The trail conditions varied from hard packed snow, to slush, to sticky wet snow to barren trails.  We experienced it all.

I had read a post that someone had made after hiking this mountain yesterday and they claimed to have broken trail top to bottom and snowshoes were needed all the way.  It was very different today due to the warmer weather both yesterday afternoon and today.  No doubt someone had used snowshoes the day before because I could still see tracks from them in many places.  Based on that earlier post we decided to carry our snowshoes on this hike.  An unnecessary 3.5 lbs more that I was already carrying which was about 30 lbs.  You would not think you could feel that extra weight but you certainly can.  Though we did not use our snowshoes, we did need light traction (microspikes) in several locations and they were especially helpful on the initial descent.

Another interesting gear story:  After a 1 3/4 hour drive to the trailhead I found that I had forgotten my hiking socks!  Pretty hard to hike in bare feet (though I did have sock liners).  Luckily, one of the things I learned in our recent winter hiking class (Winter Hiking Class) was that we should carry an extra pair of hiking socks and sock liners in our pack.  These are a bit of insurance in case your socks get wet during a water crossing or other event.  Nothing worse than cold wet feet in the winter!  So, I simply took out my spare pair of socks (thank you Bob Humphrey!).

Let's look at some photos:

The first mile or so had more snow but most of the trail looked like this.  At the summit I did hit a spot in a snow drift where I went crotch deep into the snow.  The ultimate post holing experience. 

This was really cute.  Someone just ahead of us had constructed a mini-snowperson (trying not to be sexist here).

A snowy rocky ledge.

She's at the summit, the wind is blowing, she has 3+ layers on but she's smiling!

This and the next few photos are views from the summit.  That is Cranmore ski area in the distance.

South Moat makes for a great winter hike.  I would recommend it and may return to do it again when there is deeper snow.


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