Mount Moriah 4049’
16.1 Miles 3500' Elevation gain (roughly)
Kevin, Judy and Emma
We haven't had a week off together since last fall and we hadn't been getting to the mountains much, so we were due. One of our favorite places to visit is Evans (Kevin's) Notch. In our quest to always cover new ground we chose to camp at Wild River Campground, where we had never camped before. There are only two sites that will accommodate our pop-up, despite it's small size. The other ten sites are tent sites, and very nice. We may tent the next time we go. We waited until Monday so the Memorial Day crazies would be out of the mountains, and off we went. The steady stream of campers and RV's made a solid line heading south as we made our way north through very light traffic. On our way we stopped in West Ossipee to see the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall, the third time I have seen it. It is aptly named the"Moving Wall" not just because it moves from place to place. Ahh, spring in the mountains, just what my soul needed. I have actually been a little depressed because winter was over and the brown and grays were getting to me, but seeing the green fields and mountains in Evans Notch soon woke up new life in me as it had in the natural surroundings. Except for the camp hosts we had the campground to ourselves. This is always a plus as we go for peace and quiet and a little solitude. I find these conditions to be the best for recharging. Laying awake wondering if the party is going to go all night is not my idea of fun camping. If I can't be tenting deep in the wilderness then this is how I want my camping to be. We set up camp and did a little exploring before supper and an early beddy-bye. I was pleased to get an ESPN station from NY and be able to listen to the Stanley Cup Finals, a rite of spring for me, so I guess we weren't really roughing it too much, the solitude would have to wait until morning. The campground was literally littered with wildflowers as we explored down to the Wild River which could always be heard as pleasant background noise. The next day broke clear and we decided to do our "big hike" that day, Tuesday, even though the weatherman had said Wednesday would be better. We managed to get up, eat and be off on the trail by 7:45. The planned hike was right out of the campground, so off we went. 3/10ths of a mile south of the CG was the suspension bridge which crosses the river, so cross we did, then a mile and a half north along the Highwater Trail to where the Shelburne Trail begins. There was a semi-difficult crossing of Bull Brook just before we connected with the Shelburne Trail, then it was 3.2 miles northwest through dense hardwoods to the junction of the Kenduskeag Trail. The forest was pretty, dressed in its spring colors, and there were lots of wildflowers along the way. The sun was making it hot and quite muggy under the canopy and the blackflies and mosquitos did their best to be as bothersome as they could, but some Deep Woods Off wipes kept them at bay. They were not at their fiercest yet, but it made me long for fall and winter hiking again. As we gained elevation we came to a few patches of snow, hardly enough to speak of. At the trail junction we had a quick snack and started the more steady climb along the Kenduskeag Trail where we soon found ourselves atop a small, unnamed bald knob which lies just east of Shelburne Moriah. From here we got our first look around and some much needed air, out from under the forest canopy. We forged on through many ups and downs, finding snow where we bottomed out, but still hard enough to walk upon. After what seemed an unusually long time we arrived at Shelburne Moriah. At this point we were near half-way in the hike and the skies were turning dark. In the distance to our southwest we could make out the still snow covered Northern Presidentials and the clouds were quickly rolling over them and beginning to swallow them up. The bald summit of Shelburne Moriah is a quite breezy place with nothing to protect it from the north or west. I thought of the Fellowship of the Ring and their encounter with the Ring Wraiths on the summit of Weather-Top. After a quick break and just enough time to take some quick shots of the now emerging Diapensia, we headed along the trail towards Middle Moriah and ultimately Mount Moriah. There were many more ups and downs and more and more snow becoming more difficult to traverse and we were becoming a little trail weary when we encountered our first fellow hiker of the day. An ATer by the name of "Rabbit"who had left Georgia on March 1st. He had heard there was a Burger King in Gorham and inquired if that were true. We assured him it was to which he replied in his thick southern accent, "Well there's a Whopper there with my name on it, and it's callin' me, so that's where I'm headed right now!" I never thought much about food. Mostly the rigors of the trail, getting up and pushing on everyday. Trail food must get pretty old after a short while out there. Just when we thought the hike couldn't get much worse we ran into lots of soft snow and I began postholing. Luckily we didn't have much further to go. Just before we reached the little col below the summit of Moriah we ran into three more lads on their third day, out for a spring jaunt along the AT. We scrambled up to the summit of Moriah for another quick break and watched the clouds roll across the Carters to our south. The Presidentials were gone now and it really felt like rain. As we descended we made fast work of getting down to the lower ledges along the Carter Moriah Trail and as I turned to look back the summit of Moriah was now cloaked in dense fog. In the col between Moriah and Imp we began our way down the Moriah Brook Trail which we found to be rather rough and a little hard to follow. Now in the Wild River Wilderness once again there would be no more maintenance to this trail. The punchons, or bog bridges have all but rotted away and there are few visible blazes left. The trail was still generally easy to follow as it mostly follows the brook down and there are many truly beautiful drops and pools along the brook. Looking up there are incredible views of the southeast facing cliffs of Mount Moriah which I had never seen before. As we walked along we passed through beautiful birch glades that were just starting to bud at this high altitude. As we went along the trail became easier and at one point began to follow what must be an old logging road or railroad grade for a very good distance until it finally brings you out to the place just above Moriah Gorge where you must make the final, difficult crossing. This is the only crossing of the day where Emma needed some help. Safely across we were fighting fatigue and the disappearing sun which had been swallowed by the clouds for some time and which we could sense was now dipping below the peaks to our west. Exploring Moriah Gorge will have to come on another trip. Before long we had come back to the Highwater Trail and were making our way to the suspension bridge and back to our campsite on the other side. Upon reaching it we immediately started supper for we knew that if we waited we'd be asleep before eating. We even found the strength to clean up and put everything away before flopping for the night. We had spent 10 hours on the trail, from 7:45 to 5:45. It beat the hell out of being in work.