After taking the winter off from peak bagging in exchange for a record season of riding powder, Gus Longtrail and I decided enough was enough and that Mt. Moosilauke needed a proper crushing. We headed north and got a start around 7 pm Friday as the sun was fading. The drizzle thankfully turned to snow when we reached the trail head in Kinsman Notch and suited up for a nighttime ascent of Beaver Brook Trail to the Beaver Brook Shelter. This ascent is the steepest route up, at 1.5 miles and almost 1900 feet of vert.
After a few hundred yards, the trail went unrelentingly uphill the whole way and was covered in fresh slippery snow. With just micro spikes, my traction was horrible and I actually slipped and quickly slid about 30 feet on my stomach before I self arrested. First time for that. End up being funny when I stopped but sliding uncontrollably in the dark on a steep trail with a drop off into a frozen ravine is some scary shit.
Finally getting to the shelter, we unpacked and cracked some Dale’s Pale Ale Tall Boys, marveling at the four feet of snow on the shelter roof and the 4-5 foot drift in front of the shelter. Definitely the most snow I’ve seen all winter which is saying a lot. The entire Beaver Brook and all the Cascades were entirely covered in a few feet. We layered up and I scavenged some fallen sticks hanging in trees for a small fire but the wind and cold didn’t let that happen. Temps were at least in the low twenties but the wind eventually died down which helped.
Sleeping like a baby, I rolled over at around 7 and scoped an incredible view from my sleeping bag. Blue skies and a few ambling low clouds looking towards Kinsman Notch. Gotta love a bed with a view, even if there was snow everywhere. Definitely a frosty morning, I melted some snow for Snowtea and Snoatmeal and we pack up and set off.
Very quickly this turned into probably the best hike of my life with super blue skies set against a screen of snow covered trees with some fresh powder on the trail. The incredibly steep Beaver Brook Trail even relented, giving us some nice flat walks through some gorgeous snow and rime ice forests. I even spotted a female Black Backed Woodpecker face-smashing a tree. I’m not a birder but I do pretend to be.
After a great view point of the Franconia Ridge and the Presidentials, we slowly emerged from treeline and into frozen tundra of 40+ mph freezing winds. Hauling ass to the summit at 4,802 feet, we borrowed someones help for a summit group shot and made a beeline for South Peak and the treeline as I hadn’t layered up before hitting the summit.
We passed a guy on skis going up and got a bit jealous as the ridge is a great ski trail. South Peak had some great south and western views but was far too windy so we headed down and ate lunch in the trees. The one mile trudge back to Mt. Moosilauke’s summit was miserable even with an extra layer. Proper snowshoes were no doubt a luxury for this trip and I left mine home as they lack televators and would have been dead weight.
We lingered a bit on the summit for some more Presi pics and again a few more time on the way down before breaking out the butt sleds after getting some incredulous looks and comments from passerbys. Beaver Brook is that steep; a double black diamond of butt sledding.
Fortunately, even double black diamonds are incredible with enough snow and until the untimely shattering of both of our sleds above the shelter spur, this was the most extreme butt sledding I’ve ever done. Even without the sled I didn’t walk much of the way down, mostly falling on my ass and just sliding. Seriously, I can’t even imagine hiking down this in the summer, I’m all set. Props to the guys behind us that picked up the sled shards and props to the guy ahead of us that went top to bottom without stopping judging by his sled trail.
Overall the sickest overnight I’ve done for the views, weather, and outstanding snow and sledding. Great start to the peak bagging season, looking forward to a Beaver Brook rematch with a better sled next year!
Total: 9.96 Miles and 3803 Feet of Vert
Things I/We Did Right:
– Right place at the right time. Beaver Brook Shelter & Trail doesn’t get any better than that.
– Waited for the woodpecker to show its face and got a pic so I could figure out what it was.
– Maximum amount of beer without a midnight piss.
– Cobb Salad at Woodstock Brewery… Holy shit, amazing…
– Cardio from hiking at 12k feet the previous weekend in CO paid off.
– Kept mileage and vert reasonable. The snow makes it twice as hard with shitty traction.
Things I Did Wrong:
– Micro Spikes were out of their league, need snowshoes w/televators.
– Need better Butt Sleds and a better way to strap them down. In 40 mph winds they turn into kites.
– Need to start bringing some homemade fire starter.
Total Peaks Bagged: 1 official + South Peak.
Total Miles: 9.96
Total Elevation Gain: 3803 feet
Total 4ks: 26/48
Total Backpacked: 23/48
– Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15 Down Sleeping Bag: Rocked this trip. Props to Grandpa
– OR Windstopper Gloves: New favorite hiking gloves. Popped in SmartWool Liners when they got cold.
– Butt Sleds – Used as a sled but they are multi-functional for backpacking as a seat, a shovel and a tray which comes in handy in a snow-filled shelter.
– Deviant Dale’s IPA and Dale’s Pale Ale 16 oz cans: Oh yes… Bought them warm and they were frosty less than 2 hours later in 30 degree temps. Higher alcohol % tallboys are crucial when you are hiking them in and out. Gotta get your weights worth!