Moving right along in my hiking lists, next I chose the Moat Mountains on the 52 With a View list in New Hampshire. I met Chuckles and Spoon at the Diana’s Baths trailhead to leave a car, and then we drove down to the Moat Mountain Trailhead. Along the way, we discovered that we’d all forgotten our maps, but luckily we were able to stop in North Conway to pick one up. Then as we got to the trailhead, we started debating whether we should just skip the hike and go immediately to pizza and beer. Pro-level hikers here.
It was my first wintry hike of the year so I was ready with all of my layers and traction. Of course, it usually takes me a few hikes to remember all the things I like to pack for winter. I should make a checklist sometime.
The Moat Mountain Trail started out with a small amount of snow cover, which increased as we climbed up. When we got to the steep parts, it became icy as well, although a lot of that was dripping ice with the southern exposure on this sunny day.
There were tracks all over the snow once the woods opened up and I ended up following some incorrect ones up to the ridge and had to bushwhack back over to the trail where Chuckles and Spoon were. Once above treeline, it was gorgeous, but pretty cold in the wind. We stopped at the summit of South Moat Mountain at 2749′ for a quick snack and to reevaluate our traverse.
We were concerned with all the ice melting going on and how long it had taken us to get that far due to not trusting the ice on the slabby ascent. If it looked like that going down, it would take even longer. Would the trail just keep softening as the day went on? We only had microspikes since we hadn’t felt like carrying snowshoes, so we didn’t want to get into a postholing situation or have to turn around once we’d gone more than halfway. We decided to at least go over to Middle Moat Moutain and see. There weren’t currently any tracks connecting the two mountains, but once we’d hiked a little way over, we ran into another hiker coming in the opposite direction, who confirmed that the trail was just fine for spikes.
Middle Moat Mountain at 2805′ was another gorgeous summit and we descended back into the woods from there.
As we hiked along, Chuckles regaled us with the plots of such recent cinematic hits as “Look Who’s Talking,” “Look Who’s Talking Too,” and “Look Who’s Talking Now.” Some other hikers passing in the opposite direction must have thought we were crazy laughing so much. Once we passed the junction for the Red Ridge Trail, we ran into another group of hikers containing Guthook! Out for a different loop, we invited them to meet us at the brewery post-hike.
There was another climb up to North Moat Mountain at 3196′, which has just the summit itself above the treeline for some nice views. It was really windy at that point so we didn’t stay long. My camera was having some lens opening issues in the cold, which I didn’t realize until later.
Descending North Moat took longer than expected but this north side of the mountain was nice and frozen for spikes. We probably went down it faster than we would have without snow due to the added traction. The trail did start to get a little melty again towards the bottom, but there was usually still snow/ice to step on.
We reached the Attitash Trail and turned east to walk the very flat and clear trail back to the car. I took off my spikes about halfway down.
We did stop briefly to look at Diana’s Baths, a great swimming hole in the summer. Then it was an easy walk to the car to end this 9.6 mile traverse. I know it’s only November, but this was a beautiful first winter hike! We appropriately followed up our Moats traverse with a trip to the Moat Mountain Smokehouse and Brewing Co. in Conway.