Thursday, August 25, 2016

HIKING South Moat Mountain

My neighbor and friend, Pennie, and I and our Golden Retrievers, Shawnee and Britt, hiked up South Moat Mountain yesterday.  It was a spectacular day for hiking because it was sunny with a crystal clear blue sky and a cool temperature around 70 degrees.  According to, the hike is 6 miles round trip lasting 4 hours and considered moderate to the summit at 2,770 feet.  This is confounding to us because this local hiker determined the Mount Kearsarge North trail hike strenuous, yet, by comparison, Pennie and I considered it moderate strenuous compared to the South Moat hike.  In fact, we considered South Moat strenuous because at least halfway up, the trail is steep, almost vertical, very craggy with boulders in some areas where you have scale up high steps.  Having trained four to five days a week on our nearby mountain trails, we considered ourselves physically fit.  But yesterday, we found ourselves climbing 20 yards or so to catch our breath.  South Moat encouraged us though to persevere with cool breezes and shady forest allowing our heart rates return to normal.  It took us three hours to get to the summit and two hours to come back down.  This may be a more accurate time because we were on parity with a young couple that we met on the trail and followed them or they followed us as they also had to stop and rest periodically.

I’m not discouraging anyone from hiking South Moat Mountain trail because it began with a gradual path through the forest up a wide shaded path along a drop off gaining elevation, while viewing the forest of pines below.  Eventually the trail crosses a bridge and clear running stream where our dogs drank water and cooled off.  The gentle climb continued until about halfway up where the steep boulder trail began.  It’s not constant because the trail winds through forested areas that were not as steep where we  stopped to snack and drink water.  We hiked for about two hours before we caught views of the neighboring mountains.  Then we stopped at the open rock outcroppings to take in our first glorious view looking southeast at the mountains towards Chocurua.  The dogs drank water out of a small pool in the granite slab from the previous night’s rainfall.  This view inspired us to reach the top no matter how long it took for us to get there.  Three hours later we reached the summit and were rewarded with fantastic views in every direction.

Though it was an arduous climb to the top, Pennie and I discussed how to hike more expediently on our next long climb.  Our energy stores were sapped pretty quickly when we reached the steep part of the trail.  In retrospect, we should have fueled up at breakfast with a hearty hot cereal and a nutritious smoothie drink. We also needed to eat a snack and drink water before we set off at 11:45 am.  Then an hour later, we should have had part of our lunch because it was our normal time to eat.  Afterwards, when we felt we needed an additional energy boost, we needed to snack more often on granola bars, fruit, vegetables, or peanut butter on crackers.  On the way down, we should have snacked because we were running on fumes and were just determined to get ourselves and the dogs to the car.

Pennie had the ingenious idea of filling her Camel water bladder with ice and water that  she attached to the inside of her back pack.  It lay directly on her back keeping her cool and also kept her lunch and snacks cool.  She was also able to hydrate along the way by sipping water from the tube connected to the bladder without going into her back pack.  I brought two water bottles that added weight and I only drank water when we stopped to give the dogs water taking off my back pack to get it.  I didn’t want to continually do that because I felt it would slow us down even more, so I drank less water.  I will now be using the water bladder!

We learned a lot from this challenging and wonderful climb and know we will continue our climbing adventures in the White Mountains.  Our next big hike is a 4,000-footer, Mount Pierce.  Stay tuned on Our Blog for that story!  If you enjoy hiking or walking to the many scenic sights in the White Mountains, you can reserve on-line at the Buttonwood Inn or call us at 1-800-258-2625.