- Elevation: 4,049 Feet
- Location: Gorham, NH
- Date Hiked: 9/25/2018
- Companions: Stud
- Trails: Carter-Moriah Trail
We sat drinking coffee at 5:30am on this dark early fall morning preparing to attempt our final summit of the NH48. Such a bittersweet feeling of both saddness that this list may be coming to an end and pure excitement to be finishing.
A dramatic day from the get-go. This trailhead begins in a residential dead end and we weren’t sure where to park so we parked under some power lines hoping our car would still be there when we came back with all the windows still in tact. We knew there would be some weather rolling in later and given that this was potentially our final summit on the NH48 list, we were hyper focused and rather intense as we headed up the Carter-Moriah Trail in the dark with headlamps lighting our way.
This trail does not waste anytime. It just starts straight up and we huffed our way up until we reached a more moderate grade and could catch our breaths before finding our rhythm. It wasn’t long before we were on a tree covered ridge and could start to see Pinkham Notch through the trees.
We made our way up to the rock slabs and ledges described in the guide book which afforded excellent views of the northern presidentials. As the wind picked up and the temperatures dropped, I became concerned about my clothing choices and wondered if I had enough layers with me. The trail dipped and climbed and we were high up on a ridge for a while pushing forward to stay warm and beat the potential thunderstorms. Every so often the trail would become sheltered from the wind and we took refuge in these wind breaks to refuel ourselves with water and food.
About an hour from the summit, the weather really began to change and we watched the views of the surrounding mountains slowly become clouded as we became socked in. We were both nervous about it but we pushed on moving as quickly as we could while still being careful climbing up the steep rock slabs and making sure to add and take off layers as often as necessary to stay dry and warm.
We then came upon the summit sign for Mt Moriah with an arrow to the actual summit. We looked at each other in disbelief before heading up. As we came around the corner to the exposed large rock boulder summit of Moriah the wind was whipping fiercely and we paused and looked at each other again with a bit or terror. We dropped our packs and our poles and braved forward finding the summit marker and embracing as we leaned into the wind. We took some pictures and videos and exclaimed before ducking back into the safety of the trees and finding a very sheltered nook just below the summit to recover and eat and drink and laugh soak in this summit and prepare for a safe decent.
Climbing down the rock slabs was scary and slow but not as sketchy as we anticipated and we were able to move down the mountain quickly stopping to rest more than half way down at some exposed rock slabs where the the presidentials came back into view. As we snacked and rested our knees, Mount Madison went in and out of the clouds from across the valley and we watched as the clouds formed together and darkened over them. Not a moment later, we felt the first few rain drops and quickly gathered our packs and continued down the mountain praying that the heavier rain wouldn’t come until we were off the rocks and safely under the shelter of the lower tree canopy. We were lucky and we made it down safely and by the time the rain really picked up were were less than a mile from the car and not very wet at all.
Our car was intact where we left it and we drove south thru Pinkham Notch unable to fully absorb that we had just finished the list. We stopped at Joe Dodge Lodge to change and rest and look around their little store. We didn’t linger long because we were starting to tank so we headed to a diner for some celebratory pancakes and hot coffee which brought us back to life and we sat in the booth for a while looking at pictures, laughing and reminiscing of the last few days and the last few years of our adventures hiking the NH48 together.