Saturday, July 5, 2008

Mousilauke by Pictures

7.2 miles, 3140ft gain, 3.4hrs moving time
It was another fine day in northern New England for outdoor activities. While most local cyclists are focused on Fitchburg this weekend, I opted for a little R&R from stress of work. Day two of this three day holiday weekend had five of us heading up to the White Mountains for a hike. This was Beth, Dave, their super cool dog Lucy, and myself and Cathy. We went around to the north side of Mt Moosilauke to hike the Benton Trail, a less traveled route to the summit. There were only about four cars in the lot when we arrived.

Dave, Lucy, Beth and Cathy in foreground

I do only one or two significant hikes per year. I would consider dropping down into the Grand Canyon 2000+ feet earlier this year one of them. That is atypical of most hikes, as the descent occurs first, destroying feeble cycling knees in the process. Moosilauke, on the other hand, gains over 3000ft at a fairly persistent steep grade of around 17%. The trail surface is non-stop rocks and roots. It wasn't the hike up I worried about, it was the stomp back down. I have trouble with two things. One is a nasty habit of rolling ankles. I've had trouble with this since childhood and have to be so careful planting feet on descents. The other is my knees are conditioned only for cycling type forces and motion. Stepping down a steep incline wreaks havoc on the connective tissues in the front of my knee.

The four of us plus Lucy hiked well together. We all ride (or tag along on rides), although the age span of the group varied nearly 2:1. The climb took about 1:50hrs per my Garmin 705. I was disappointed again to see how short the 705 came up on distance. It measured 3.13 miles going up, when all sources say it is 3.6 miles. There were less than a dozen people up top, surprising seeing how nice a day it was and the fact the Appalachian trail crosses over this summit. The view is 100% 360 up top, well above tree line at 4800ft. It is one of the better views in the Whites. I have never hiked this one and was thoroughly satisfied.

Looking northerly from Mt Moosilauke summit

After taking in the view for a while and eating a sandwich, we began the descent. I think most of us slid out on our butt at least once going down. It was mostly dry, but there were a few slimy spots. My knees took a pounding. They ached almost immediately on the descent. I really should do more weight bearing work. It would probably help me with the Nordic skiing too. An attempt at running last winter proved too much though. Perhaps if I did regular hikes, I wouldn't have this problem. Cycling poses no recurring problems for my knees whatsoever. I am fortunate in this regard.

Doug and Cathy

The descent took surprisingly long, not much faster than the ascent. I suppose when you are a conditioned cyclist, bounding up big rocks just comes naturally. Stepping down involves impact and propensity to roll ankles. Plus you get all kinds of funky lateral forces acting on all your joints, something completely lacking in cycling.

A was relieved to reach the bottom without rolling an ankle. I measured even less distance coming down, 2.95mi in 1:37hrs. We rode up in Beth's four-door truck with spacious room for back seat occupants. That includes Lucy. Wouldn't you know it, Lucy found some nice juicy, smelly, black muck to charge through just before hopping into the truck for the ride home. Good thing I'm fond of dogs. She was so tuckered out that she stayed zonked out on my lap for the whole ride home.

That's two major mountains in two days. Wonder what's up for Sunday. Thought about heading over to Kearsarge to check out the new asphalt. Maybe a MTB loop over Crotched Mtn. Leominster State Forest with a climb over Wachusett also sounds tempting. Not sure what my legs will have though. Quads are cooked from Burke on Friday, knees are cranky from Moosilauke today.

Looking southwest from Moosilauke summit

Looking south

180deg westerly pan. View at 100%, scroll around.

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