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 Springlike Moats Traverse N-->S - 2/4/16 
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Sovereign Woodsman
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 Springlike Moats Traverse N-->S - 2/4/16
Peter (thegibba) and I were planning a hike and watching the weather all week. As it deteriorated day by day we tossed out the higher stuff we were eyeing like Camel's Hump figuring the lower elevation hikes might stay below the cloud deck if it came to that. Turns out it was a good decision. We also didn't need to rush since we just had ten miles to cover for the day and the afternoon looked to be the best part of the day, so after sleeping in, forgetting gear and going back for it, waiting in lines for breakfast and whatnot we finally spotted the car around ten at the south end of the Moat Range and headed for the northern end to start the hike.

Late start to let the weather clear
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South Moat was in the sunshine over Red Eagle Pond by the time we spotted a car
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We geared up, but decided against dragging the snowshoes along, and started up the Moat Mountain Trail for a visit to Diana's Bath. The only people we saw all day passed us on the way to the falls, which with warm temps and melting snow were running well and carving their way through the ice. After that we followed a solitary set of tracks in the slushy snow along the banks of Lucy Brook to the only major crossing, at which point the tracks turned back. We searched for a way across slightly upstream as the water was running high and the regular crossing didn't appear to be the driest way route, and then continued along the mostly flat trail for another mile or so through more nice woods with some huge red and white pines mixed in. This part of the hike would make a great 5 mile or so round trip stroll. Very scenic and virtually flat, but we had bigger goals for the day and at the junction with the Attitash Trail the Moat Mountain Trail hung a left and finally started to climb.

God Rays on the way to Diana's Bath
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Spring like temps had things flowing well
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Artifacts
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The upper falls were tumbling right along
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Some ice that Peter practiced his luge on
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Lucy Brook, also flowing well
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Huge trees and deep forests made for a great warm up stretch of trail
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Last cascades before the climbing started
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The weather was spring-like and we peeled layers off in a hurry. The trail is fairly steep gaining 2100 feet in 1.9 miles, so, it's 20% steeper on average (if you can believe it) than the mighty Mt. Tecumseh Trail. The gold Standard bu which all other mountains are measured. The reasons for this are twofold. One, it is said to be as steep and rough as anything else out there, and two, virtually all other mountains out there seem awesome and amazing in comparison. :shock: A mix of snow, ice and bare ground down low so on went the Hillsounds. The woods were almost free of snow too. Really it was a dead ringer for a nice April day and didn't feel like the dead of winter. Water was freely flowing down the trail most of the way also, undercutting the monorail to the point where every so often a foot would break through into a few inches of water underneath. Eventually it all turned to more solid heavy wet snow and ice as we climbed steadily up the beautiful pine and ledge covered ridge, with occasional views through and over the trees. There seems to be a diagonal slash right through the Whites of these awesome mid sized mountains with this type of ledge and pine and other than the true alpine zones it is my favorite terrain to hike in. Kind of has an Acadia feel to it. Maybe that's why I like it so much. Whatever it is the Caribou-Speckled Wilderness, the Badfaces, the Moats and Chocorua all have it and I love it. If you've been to these you know probably know what I mean, and if there's anything out there I have yet to get to that has the same feel to it please let me know! :D

Going up!
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Quite a bit of ice from the thawing cycles last week
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Lost of semi-open ledges along the way
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Views of Kearsarge North, North Conway, Cranmore and the Green Hills
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Anyhow, you catch a glimpse of the summit ledges up ahead and then climb the steepest section of trail, with the last vertical 100 feet or so being on those ledges which were a 70/30 mix of ice and rock. The summit stands at a lowly 3196 feet but feels much bigger and somehow manages to have far reaching views in every direction. We didn't even have the clearest of days but the rest of the ridge with Middle and South Moat in one direction, the Sandwich Range across another horizon, the Pemi Wilderness and the Preis stretching to the west and north and last but not least the Maine peaks, Kearsarge North and the Green Hills providing the backdrop to North Conway to the east. Pretty darn impressive views really, easily better than views from half of the 48 IMO even without the elevation beats all trump card, and we had a little break while soaking it in. You would however, need a friend to complete this route.

The summit up ahead
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The last few hundred feet were the steepest of the climb but were mostly soft snow
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Lots of ice made spikes a necessity
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Added some layers so we could hang around and enjoy the awesome views
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View from just below the summit
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3196
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VFTT of the Kanc fromthe rocky summit of North Moat
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Summit Pano's

S->W
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N->E
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Red Ridge and two more Moats up ahead
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George in the clouds
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I'm not positive how this works. This says it was in the 30's, but there were clouds and a breeze, and the MWOBS reported colder and windier conditions than last Sunday, so even though we were nowhere near the observatory, if you take the average of the low and high temps there for the day and factor in windchill on exposed skin, well, it still was in the 30's where we were, which felt pretty darn springlike to me since I cover up most of my skin. The calendar however tells me it's still winter.

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After the summit the trail dropped quickly down the most rugged stretch of trail for the day. A few icy scrambles gave us pause, one of which looked like a 20 foot high express lane to the ER so we whacked around it. A few icy spots along the narrow trail with 30 foot drop offs almost made us put on the crampons for a bit. I know, I know, that's a total DB move, but if you have them and feel more comfortable in them why not use them? We did mange to get by the trickiest spots slowly with some veggie holds and eventually the trail moderated and was just a snowy walk through the woods. There were times when we questioned the wisdom of leaving the snowshoes behind but those stretches were short. Occasional views, occasional foot deep post holes, but nothing major on either front and we climbed up to the rocky summit of Red Ridge for another look around. Nice spot, with both North Moat behind you and Middle/South Moats ahead of you this could be used for a great loop of Red Ridge and North Moat if you don't have a car spot for the full traverse and is definitely a loop I'll be back for, but we had plans to catch the sunset from the wide open expanses on Middle Moat and so we didn't stick around long.

Should we have brought the snowshoes?? :?
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Viewpoint along the way with a nice view of Middle & South Moats ledges
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A few wet and/or icy scrambles along the way
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Looking back at North Moat's summit
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And ahead to Middle as blue skies briefly return
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VFTT of Red Ridge
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From Red Ridge the trail dropped about 400 feet before regaining it on the climb of Middle Moat. Only 2800 feet high but with lots of open ledge there are constant views. It is 30 feet higher than South Moat also, but somehow South is the one that gets the 52WAV designation. Not exactly sure how that works. :? Anyways, the lower ledges were icy but the upper ones were mostly open and bare rock so off came the spikes. Bare-booting was easy enough and a short off trail excursion takes you to the actual summit. From there we wandered about while the show began. At first the sun seemed like it was going to just fizzle out behind the clouds and ruin our plans, but some glimmers of pink started to appear in the east, and over the next half hour the sunset really evolved from blah to wow! The sun never actually showed itself but the clouds all around started turning pink, then orange and yellow, then back to pink and purple before finally fading away into the night.

Sun going down as we head for Middle Moat
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Peter taking a look back at North Moat and RR
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Lots of nice open ledge near the top
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North Conway
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South Moat from Middle
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It appeared we weren't going to get much of a sunset at first...
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...then to the NE the sky started to turn pink...
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...and the clouds overhead got in on the fun...
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...the western horizon joined the party...
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...eventually it gave a satisfactory finish to the day
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Sunset over the Sandwich Range
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The tallest mountains in the Sandwich Range
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Not the biggest but easily the best mountain in said range
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Twilight view of North Conway and our next stop, South Moat
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We watched most of it from the summit but around twilight started the easy walk over to South Moat's summit while the lights came on in the village below. I love night hiking, but especially love it when the lights of the towns below come on at dusk. With no moon to interfere it was quite a sight and we stopped there for another half hour taking some pictures and enjoying the last light of the day before breaking out the headlamps for the trip down. The south ledges of South Moat were very icy. Most were solid but soft ice actually, and we made it with sharp Hillsounds but again gave thought to crampons for added bite. Nobody was around to look at us and think bad thoughts about how we looked in them, and getting down safely is part of the game, but we stuck with spikes and with just a minor slip each made it down just fine. The melt-water was really running heavily down the ledgy trail below the ice but for maybe half a mile in a hardwood section there was virtually no snow or ice at all and we could easily bare boot it. Farther down the trail went back into the shadowy pines and the ice returned so we put on the spikes again for the rest of the hike, which moderated in steepness and eventually almost flattened out before and after the crossing of Dry Brook and hitting the home stretch to the parking lot. We fetched my car and headed for, where else, the Moat Mountain Brewery for a quick bite to eat before heading home.

Headed for South
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Stop along the way to take a peek at the lights
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Surveying the valley lights from the summit of South Moat
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Light of North Conway
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Where else can you go after a Moats Traverse to get a bite to eat?!
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Perfect ending to the day :beer:
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I had hiked South and Middle Moats before, but never North, and Peter hadn't hiked any of the range, so it was 2 new 52WAV for him, one for me and some redlining for both. Both of us ended up with a check mark on the Views and Brews list. I wouldn't want to crap on anyone's bigger aspirations by suggesting a mid-sized mountain, but with about 10 miles and 3500 feet of awesomely scenic and fairly rugged trails, no people in sight, views for days from open summits and ridges, you could do much worse than the Moat Mountains if just looking for a good hike. I do think with all the wet snow and melt-water that when it re-freezes this one is going to be a pretty scrappy hike on the steep sections of trail and icy upper ledges on both ends of the range, and sharp traction will be a must until it gets more snow. But it's a fantastic hike and we definitely enjoyed it. 9 out of 10 if I had to rate it. With bluer skies and/or more snow or on a nice summer day and it's a perfect 10 in my book.


Sat Feb 06, 2016 9:15 pm
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Sovereign Woodsman
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 Re: Springlike Moats Traverse N-->S - 2/4/16
Spring like conditions don't get much better than this. The drive up to Conway I got to have the windows down a bit in the car. Sure doesn't feel like Winter around here. The previous day's rains did'n't help any. Friday I think all they got is rain up there. Stick a fork in Winter, she's done! (Trying to jinx it here!) Both lots were skating rinks. The upper lot for Diana's Baths has a bit of an uphill to get out. Take note, this lot needs a parking pass while the lower on off Passaconaway rd doesn't.

Equipment decisions. Crampons? snowshoes? beer? Sandals?
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Neither of us had been to the baths so we were pleasantly surprised. For the first feature of the day, it seemed rather expansive. Ice formations that follow the water flow is always amazing to look at. Coming down the side trail tot he top of the baths i ended up slipping and sliding down on my but. It was fun for a moment, but that moment was fleeting. The thought that for the next 7 hours my rear would be wet from the slush sunk in. lucky for me some hustling over the next mile dried everything out. Nothing makes you look more like a dink than carrying crampons, an ice axe, and hillsounds, not using any of it and slipping down an icy stretch.

Old artifacts from a Dam or water pump or something. This is apparently the local water supply.
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The next mile or so was back to the flats with more godrays coming down. Pleasant stream views. Can't ask more of a simple stroll in the woods. The locals seem to like this area as well. Couldn't imagine a better area to bring your dog for a walk. If you have already done another hike in the day and are feeling another short bop around. This area should be on the list.

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Who chose to come out here today a bit over prepared with jackets, and more aggressive traction aids?

THIS GUY
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The shot up from my perspective was a bit tough for not really getting out in about a month for some serious mountain hiking. Derek (GraniteGuy) Told me to "suck it up cupcake!" and I moved on my way up to the views. N. Moat only being 40% of the elevation of Lafayette my hopes weren't high (rimshot! :wink: ) I was astounded by the expansiveness of the vista. Interesting views towards the Pemi and Sandwich areas. Unique perspective on how deep the Carter and Pinkham notches were. The U shape was clearly defined from this angle.

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The ridge walk over to middle and south was fairly easy. Minus the one area Derek described as an expressway. With Acadian style ledges Sunset on this ridge was all too familiar. I just needed a light Jacket and hat though. Nature definitely kept saying "Waaaaiiit for it!" As it took the colors to a bit to materialize for sunset. Good things come to those who hang out on a summit for a while. Coming out late hasn't been anything new lately. Night time hiking in the mountains rewards those with a light source. Views across a wilderness on one side and humanity clinging to light and safety on the other.

Reminds me of the Acadian ledges
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"On top of the world"
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Between the mid day mists, waterfalls, ledges, 360 degree views, quiet nature of the area and expansive sunset there isn't a much better way to spend an afternoon. If you are looking for solitude, you will find it here among the lower less popular hills.


Sun Feb 07, 2016 10:28 am
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 Re: Springlike Moats Traverse N-->S - 2/4/16
Nicely done gentlemen. The Moats are STILL on my list. Not a hike I want to solo though.

LOVE the God Rays. Great photos as usual.

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Sun Feb 07, 2016 5:20 pm
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 Re: Springlike Moats Traverse N-->S - 2/4/16
These are on our list too, hoping to do the transverse also. Nice to see the summits and views we can expect, thanks! We did North Kersarge for the Views and Brews. It was the first time we went to Moat's and have since been back quite a few times. :beer:

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Sun Feb 07, 2016 6:06 pm
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 Re: Springlike Moats Traverse N-->S - 2/4/16
thegibba wrote:
I'm not positive how this works.
Image


The little glass bulb is filled with colored liquid that expands and rises as it is heated and contracts and sinks when cold. :wink:

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Sun Feb 07, 2016 6:58 pm
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 Re: Springlike Moats Traverse N-->S - 2/4/16
Wonderful!


Sun Feb 07, 2016 8:17 pm
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 Re: Springlike Moats Traverse N-->S - 2/4/16
Kathy wrote:
thegibba wrote:
I'm not positive how this works.

The little glass bulb is filled with colored liquid that expands and rises as it is heated and contracts and sinks when cold. :wink:


Funny I thought that was about all there was to it, but recently I had heard differently so I wasn't positive. :wink:

Chuck we saw some iron bar drilled into the summit of North Moat and were wondering if it was from a fire watching stand like you said Chocorua had, but since you haven't been there apparently not. Looks exactly like it. I'm curious what it is from now. It's probably the one thing I didn't take a picture of all day. Maybe Peter did. I've see it on several peaks that are not on that list and wonder what else would have been on such peaks that necessitated drilling iron bars into them.

And Kearsarge North on the views and brews list for Moat instead of North Moat?? That makes as much sense as the South peak being the one on 52WAV even though it's the shorter one and the other also has spectacular views.


Sun Feb 07, 2016 8:26 pm
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 Re: Springlike Moats Traverse N-->S - 2/4/16
How beautiful! We've been to S. Moat twice - on hot, humid days (and I normally do well with heat and humidity) where I napped on top and then went back down (my car stars in the first few seconds of Spencer's video last summer). I'd love to redline the whole place. God bless whoever invented headlamps, both for aesthetic reasons and slow-a** reasons! You guys had an amazing sunset! I enjoyed the literary allusions thoughout both posts :D !


Sun Feb 07, 2016 8:38 pm
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 Re: Springlike Moats Traverse N-->S - 2/4/16
Nice, wish I could catch a sunset like that, but I'm too afraid of being In the woods
After dark. I've only been to South Moat but thought it was fantastic.


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Sun Feb 07, 2016 8:55 pm
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 Re: Springlike Moats Traverse N-->S - 2/4/16
Nice, wish I could catch a sunset like that, but I'm too afraid of being In the woods
After dark. I've only been to South Moat but thought it was fantastic.


Terry


Sun Feb 07, 2016 8:55 pm
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 Re: Springlike Moats Traverse N-->S - 2/4/16
Granite Guy wrote:
Chuck we saw some iron bar drilled into the summit of North Moat and were wondering if it was from a fire watching stand like you said Chocorua had, but since you haven't been there apparently not. Looks exactly like it. I'm curious what it is from now. It's probably the one thing I didn't take a picture of all day. Maybe Peter did. I've see it on several peaks that are not on that list and wonder what else would have been on such peaks that necessitated drilling iron bars into them.

And Kearsarge North on the views and brews list for Moat instead of North Moat?? That makes as much sense as the South peak being the one on 52WAV even though it's the shorter one and the other also has spectacular views.

No North Moat isn't on the Tower List, maybe it was for some weather equipment at some point?? Interesting, I look forward to checking it out though.
As for Views and Brews not using North Moat..yup seems weird, but then again alcohol is involved with that list. :roll: :lol:

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Completed NH48 in July 2012
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Completed NH Views and Brews Sept. 2013
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Sun Feb 07, 2016 9:15 pm
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 Re: Springlike Moats Traverse N-->S - 2/4/16
Amazingly icy. U guys must of got sick of putting spikes on and off 100x. The lights of n. Conway make u think it was some major metropolis or something. Looks like the lights in the Tilton strip :( that glows from my window.

Must have been interesting coming down in the dark with the ice. :shock: looks like a long day with a nice reward at the end! Ice sunset u had.


Mon Feb 08, 2016 4:26 am
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 Re: Springlike Moats Traverse N-->S - 2/4/16
There were some tricky slots coming down but it wasn't too bad. I have some pretty powerful headlamps. They are about 130 lumens or so. Seeing obstacles wasn't a problem. We put the hill sounds on at the start of the ascent and only took them off on middle moat. They are pretty tough. I believe the hill sounds and microspikes to be sorta disposable. They are cheap enough to replace every few years if needed. You can usually get them for a good price towards the end of the "season" also.


Mon Feb 08, 2016 7:38 am
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 Re: Springlike Moats Traverse N-->S - 2/4/16
Nice report, but this "spring conditions" thing is BS.
This has been the lamest winter for hiking in recent memory.

Glad you're making the most of it... but more snow would be awesome.

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Mon Feb 08, 2016 8:44 am
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 Re: Springlike Moats Traverse N-->S - 2/4/16
iagreewithjamie wrote:
Nice report, but this "spring conditions" thing is BS.
This has been the lamest winter for hiking in recent memory.

The 2011/2012 "winter" was pretty similar as I recall it. Aside from actually being a little colder in the first part of Jan.


The Moat range is awesome. Someday I need to return for South/Middle. But the North Moat/Red Ridge Loop is outstanding. Aside from that blasted steep climb up to North from the Attitash Trail junction. And Red Ridge is covered in blueberry bushes, probably quite delicious in the right season (it was May when I did the loop - no blueberries :( )

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Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:32 pm
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