Moose on Moosilauke
A solo hike with some chance encounters
This was a great loop around Moosilauke, especially with all the rain we’ve gotten this week rushing in the brook and making all the green so vibrant. It was also a refreshing change to see Moosilauke on a nice day as the previous four hikes up here have been during inclement weather (see posts here and here).
Having never hiked Moosilauke from the lodge, I decided to do a loop from there covering almost entirely new trails. I parked a ways up the road from the lodge, since it was summer, and crowds predictably had arrived. Since I had Rye, I didn’t get a chance to check out the new Moosilauke Ravine Lodge complex on the inside, but from appearances, it’s pretty far from rustic. I think there might even have been air conditioning. Impressive, but a little too shiny for my tastes when it comes to a wilderness getaway. Anyways.
We followed ample and sometimes quirky carved signs to George Brook Trail. George Brook was rushing and it was green all over. For the first mile or so we passed many families with small children, but the crowds thinned out as the trail got steeper. Overall, the humidity was the only real challenge as the trail was pretty straight-forward. There were some steep sections with basically stone steps (the flat kind, not the razor sharp boulder type that are common elsewhere in the Whites). The cool breeze was welcome as I approached treeline through the shrubs. Unlike the hike from Glencliff (AT), there was no epic exposed lead up to the summit. Once above the trees, you were pretty much right there.
But we didn’t make it quite to the summit signpost before we spotted the familiar furry face of the infamous Sasha, as featured in our Tripyramid Double Up/Dog rescue mission here. What a fun surprise to see them out for another less exciting day in the Whites only a few months later. We stopped to catch up, eating our summit snacks and recounting our recent adventures. Sasha just turned 14 and is still out here every weekend killing it! I can only hope Rye has such stamina.
After we parted ways, we tagged the summit but didn’t linger as it was full of families and couples taking selfies with too many sandwiches within licking range of Rye. Happily, our way was the less travelled as we turned north on Beaver Book where I got a taste of the epic cairn trail through the cool mist which we missed coming up from George Brook. Soon we headed back down into the trees and passed a few more folks with dogs before turning right onto “the Ridge” (Asquam Ridge Trail).
It was a nice rolling hike back down through the forest, and I spent my energy hopping rock to rock to avoid the mud and water on the trail, which I pretty much succeeded in doing. Right before the sharp left where Asquam Ridge Trail crosses over Baker River, I sat down by the river for a while and stuck my feet in the roaring water. If I felt more ambitious, I might have sat full in and let the water crash into my back. It was such a lovely spot, but Rye wasn’t feeling it, so I put my clean feet back in my socks and shoes, we crossed the bridge, and headed onwards.
Then, as good timing would have it, I nearly walked right into a moose! Acting fast, cautious and excited by my luck, I pulled Rye by the collar off the trail (she had no interest in meeting these ginormous dogs anyway) and we gave her some space to do what she would while I hastily got out my camera to take some photos to prove my luck to Cody later. She watched me for a minute, then she moved off the trail into the woods and revealed two calves in tow. I felt lucky the whole day afterwards as an encounter with not one, but three, moose will do to a hiker.
The final flat 1.5 miles back to the lodge had a sparkle to them, reflecting on the chance encounters of the day, walking on still-tingling feet, fresh from the river. Rye might not have felt the same as she kept looking behind us to make sure those villains really weren’t following us.