Thanksgiving on Moosilauke

Mt. Moosilauke
A Windy & Snowy Day for Kilimanjaro Preparation
The Prouty Mountaineering Program
(the first Prouty Challenge Event benefitting Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center)
Prep Hike #4
11 miles, 4,802 feet
November 24, 2011
Wes Chapman
Mt. Moosilauke – a Bald Place
Mt. Moosilauke is an English language adaptation of the Abenaki Indian name for the hill – mosi (bald) auke (place). This was altered into Moose Hillock, and then finally into Moosilauke. Moosilauke is an interesting hill, in that it is considerably wilder today than it was in 1860, when the Pinnacle House opened on July 4th, to a crowd of over 1,000 people – right at the top of the Hill. Moosilauke was home to Dartmouth skiing through the ‘40’s, and the national skiing championship was held there in the ‘30’s.
I must have climbed Moosilauke well over 100 times, but my first Thanksgiving Day climb was today, with my young friend and climbing companion Jon Morse, and his two dogs Liz and Ted (aka The Menace).
Jon Morse on the road to the base
Jon is training for Kilimanjaro, Hood and Rainier, and so enjoyed a chance to bust out into the fresh snow for a day of tough trail breaking up Moosilauke. We were the first tracks up the Hill as of 8:30 on Thanksgiving morning, and 10-18 inches of fresh, heavy snow really changes the degree of difficulty from a normal summer hike.
The Gorge Brook trail was at least partially washed out in Hurricane Irene, and currently involves a fair amount of rock hopping/wading. As wet dogs and fresh snow mix very poorly, we headed up the Snapper Trail to the Carriage Trail. The best thing about fresh snow is fresh animal tracks, and we saw plenty – 2 deer, a bear, and a couple of moose – one of which we followed almost to the top. The mis-applied moniker of Moose Hillock was accurate at least for today.
Plenty of fresh snow
Mountain climbing on Holidays is a particularly risky business, as failure to show up on time for Thanksgiving dinner will invariably result in several tons of malodorous excrement being immediately dumped on your head, with no way of removing the odor for weeks. Speed is essential at such times, and we climbed like men possessed all day.
        The Menace in the Snow 
Liz at lunch
The temperature at the top was about 10 degrees, blowing a full gale, and a white out. The drifts were waist deep, and the going was awfully slow. It was not the clear and cloudless skies promised by the weather channel. By the time we got back to the bottom we were really beat, and the dogs were encrusted in snow several inches thick. We made it back on time, made dinner without issue, and all ate massively –man and beast alike. Without a doubt, a day well spent.
Wes Chapman
Written by Wes Chapman

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