This trip was an AMC Boston Chapter weekend at Harvard Cabin, just off Rt 16 near the Dana Place Inn. We had a good crowd for the trip, 16 people, and people arrived at various times during the evening on Friday. This was an intermediate hiking trip, and there was still snow up high, so we chose to attack the Moats on Saturday. With a group so large we elected to split in two, start from the opposite ends of the ridge, and meet for lunch and a car key swap in the middle. My group started at the southern end, the other group heading out from the Diana's Bath parking area on the Westside Road. The southern end of the trail goes through nice open pine forests before starting to climb through some open ledges as you begin to get views. We paused at the first open area, taking in the great weather and views to the south and west.
The next stop was at the summit of South Moat, a great peak with 360 degree views. From here you can make out lots of the Whites and we all took our time. You can see Middle Moat from here, and that's where we headed to next. The ridgewalk is quite open and airy, giving the feeling for hiking on much higher terrain. The Presidentials were still showing snow and ice, staying lower was a good idea. Middle Moat is just a short distance from South, and we had a snack up there then dropped back down into the trees with the intent of meeting the other group someplace south of North Moat for lunch and the key exchange. Along the way we ran into some trail crew volunteers who were cutting blowdowns and clearing brush. Thanks guys!
After the Red Ledge trail junction we climbed up a ways through some scrambling sections and we found the other group just as they settled in for lunch. We were all enjoying the trip, and meeting up with our better half made for a nice bonus. We could tell them about what was ahead and they did the same for us. It was a leisurely time, lots of lying in the sun and just grooving on being out in the mountains. The Moats offer a lot for fairly low peaks (under 3200') with some excellent open ridgewalks. We finished up lunch and exchanged keys and instructions for our ideosychratic cars and headed out in opposite directions. We still had North Moat ahead of us, the highest of the three and the one with the best views to the north. The drop off from North Moat is pretty steep, and there are lots of open granite ledges that tire out your legs. Finally we got down into the trees and finished up at Diana's Baths, a wonderful collection of rocks and water. The cars were all waiting for us, and we headed to the local market for beer and leftover Easter Peeps, then back to the cabin.
Sunday we were looking for a smaller hike that was close by and on our way home to Boston. Only a few of us had been up Mt Hedgehog, and since we had two UNH alums among us it was decided on. We drove to the trailhead over Bear Notch road and took our time getting ready for the hike until we had all arrived. It's a real nice loop, climbing through some nice pine and fir forests, eventually reaching some open ledges where we paused for some views, water, and rest. Then, after losing the trail for a few minutes we descended a bit and then climbed up the other side to the summit ledges. There we settled in for another group lunch and a group picture. The drop down to the trailhead went quickly and we stopped at the ledges for some very interesting views to the north. The walk out through the tall firs was a great way to end the weekend. Finally we reached the cars, said our goodbyes, and headed home.
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