It's always great to have a good organizer in the group. Mike P fills that role wonderfully, and our electronic gang grew to about 15 people. Several of us were staying at Hiker's Paradise in Gorham on Friday night so we met for dinner at the wonderful Mr. Pizza pub. Did you know that beer is dehydrating? Oh well. We had several start times for the morning; one group was going to leave by 6:30 for an unlikely attempt on Washington, another early group wanted to be at Stony Brook for a 7:15 start, and the rest of us were going to start at 8:00. As it turned out, the Washington group decided to com to Moriah due to the winds, and we all started up Stony Brook in a few waves of hikers.
I was in the middle of the pack, and soon the various groups asserted themselves. The fast group (either young or inshape or both) blazed on up the slope, breaking trail for the rest of us. Another group didn't feel challenged by society's pressure to constantly accelerate. Eventually, my middle group was whittled down to just MichealJ and myself. We were having a fine time, and the trail was so well trodden that I bare booted up to the ridge. We took a break at the junction there, ate some food and drank our water, but I got a little cold so I decided to push on before Micheal had finished up. Little did I know that this was the last I'd see of anyone until I reached the summit. The snowshoe cleats helped on the icy ledges and there were even some tantalizing views, especially to the west. At one point I could even spot the rest of the group on the summit of Moriah, but they didn't hear me yell.
I finally reached the group at the base of the little spur trail to the summit. They were warming up after spending some time on the summit and enjoying the sliding. I dropped pack and ran up to the top just as some great views started appearing. One other hiker who had come up in front of our group was up there (Hi Dave!) and he posed for a few summit shots. The Carter-Moriah trail was broken out by one small group but our gang had already decided to go back down Stony Brook. I slid back down as Micheal arrived, and he ran up to the top as we got ready to head down together. The final group was still behind us, we figured we'd see them along the ridge, and sure enough we ran into them on one of the open ledges. There were four in that group and they were moving slowly but steadily, and they were going down the Carter-Moriah trail to the cars we had left at that trailhead.
As we decended, the clouds were lifting and we got some excellent views of the Northern Presidentials and Mt Washington all the way along the ridge. The sun was out and we had a great time talking and posing for photos as we went back down to the Stony Brook junction. From there it was a fairly long slog out, and we took a slow pace due to various knee problems. I was quite tired by the time we finally hit the parking lot, kept going by Climbing Stallion's stories. A few of us had dinner at the Northland (don't order the buffalo) and I crashed for the night. The first hike of the winter is always the hardest.
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