It is one of the perks of my job that we occasionally take to the hills to catch up on work plans and to figure out strategies to solve new problems that our software is designed for. This has been something that we have done since we worked together at a previous company and the decision to go on a trip can sometimes be at short notice (in this case the day before).
We usually start in on the work-related topics after breakfast during the drive from Einstein Bros. (we met at 6:30am this time) and keep at it till we become breathless three quarters of the way up. Sometimes the work conversations begin again when we are making our way down or are in the car on the way back.
The trailhead for Moriah (4049ft) starts near Gorham, NH. This is the small town where John and I started the 30 mile section of the AT hike into Mahoosuc Notch in September.
The hike has a relatively easy initial ascent up to a mountain called Mnt Surprise (at about 2192ft). This first section is a 2 mile stretch and brings you to pretty spectacular views of the town in the background and the Presidential mountains.
The remainder of the hike is described as easy hiking in 4000footers.com:
"The trail is relatively easy, compared to other NH 4,000 footer mountains, but, it can be very dangerous when wet, because a big portion of the Carter-Moriah trail is solid rock. (very slippery when wet, or icy!)"
Compared to last week when the temperature up on the mountain was in the upper 20s, the temperature today started at 27F (-3C) but increased to a balmy 47F (8C) by the time we were done.
There was snow on the ground and ice on the rock as we started up the very slabby 2.5 mile section to the top of Moriah.
Bruce was in Hawaii last week and had a planning lapse... he hadn't thought to bring his micro-spikes. Despite this, he and John navigated the slabs with astonishing skill. Pretty soon I found myself lagging behind them because I kept slipping and sliding. I gave in and and pulled my micro-spikes on so that I could keep up with them.
As we neared the top, the ice covered trees were testament to some recent pretty hard wind and icy rain up there.
We stopped to add a layer before summiting and enjoying the spectacular view from there.
We had come across a couple of hikers a short way from the summit in a somewhat more sheltered spot. They had just arrived there and told us that they had seen some pretty impressive bear tracks in the snow not too far from where we were.
We made our way back down to sheltered spot near the summit to stop for lunch.
The slightly warmer weather and adding layers before getting cold had ensured that I arrived there warm but I pulled on my mittens as we ate because the air was cold.
A bird arrived at the lunch party, somewhat emboldened by the fact that we had food. I had never seen a bird of this type before. It looked like a bluejay without the peak on its head and with a dark head.
Bruce threw a small piece of bagel down for it and it came really close to get the food.
It turns out that it is a Grey Jay which has a range all along the North (Alaska, Canada, North America).
I found the second part of the ascent very tiring. My legs were a little rubbery when we got there and I felt it going down too.
Stopping for lunch had allowed the cold to set in - the tip of my one finger was starting to go numb - but it didn't take long for us to warm up again as we went down and up over the relatively flat section from the peak to Mount Surprise.
The descent down the icy slabs was an exercise in care. The micro-spikes gave us a huge advantage over Bruce but he only slipped once.
We were back at the car at 4:30pm - before dark.