The hiking meal of preference for my husband is a sandwich. And not just any old sandwich. It has to be a sandwich from Subway.
Clearly, if you bought a whole wheat sub roll at the store, stuffed it with some sliced chicken breast, spinach, banana peppers and Dijon mustard, that would be inferior to say, a Subway sub roll filled with ham, cheese, spinach, yellow mustard and banana peppers.
I’m just not sure how.
Regardless, this is his MO. So I go along with it. I’m supportive that way.
This is how it was that on Sunday morning we found ourselves in the Subway parking lot. Much to Owen’s dismay, they don’t allow dogs in the sandwich shop, so we waited in the car while “Daddy” got his lunch for the day.
Happily, once T came back out with his Subway sandwich, we were able to proceed to the trailhead of South Moat mountain where we met our friend, WB.
South Moat is a modest mountain of just under 2,800 feet. The trail, roundtrip, is about 5.4 miles long and the total elevation gain is a respectable 2,000 feet. I thought it would be a great starter hike. Or, more accurately, a great “first hike of the season” hike. We usually start a bit smaller than that, but I decided to go for it this time.
The first part of the trail was full of hemlocks with little undergrowth. Instead, a fragrant carpet of pine needles lay on the forest floor. To the right was a gorge ripe with spring melt off. We marched up the trail and over a wooden bridge spanning the rushing water.
Crossing the bridge put the water behind us and the trail quickly turned almost sandy. There was a decent incline almost immediately, though it was interspersed with flatter areas. None of us quite had our hiking legs yet, but it was a short hike and we were in no hurry. We were content to stop often and enjoy just being outside after a long winter.
I got some love from Owen while the boys talked.
Because it was so early in the season, the black flies weren’t out yet, which was a blessing. What I didn’t anticipate was the sun. Normally, this would be a nicely shaded trail its early stages, but with the trees just barely budding, there were no leaves to screen us from the rays. It got hot fast.
Fortunately, Owen is good at finding the shade.
Soon we started hitting ledges where there was open rock face and some nice views. Here’s what Chocorua, which I hiked last summer with a fellow MilSpouse, looks like from across the way.
The last stretch to the top was rough. My legs were sending me urgent “you’ve been lazy” messages, so WB and I took frequent breaks while Mr. Mountains-of-Afghanistan plowed steadily ahead with Owen. During one such break, WB turned to me and said, “Oh, man. Wait until you see what’s coming down the trail. This is going to make me feel even more like a pansy.”
It wasn’t the brown lab that came panting down, eyeing us with friendly curiosity. Dogs were not an anomaly on this trail. They were all over the place. No, it was the elderly woman who came after him decked out in a sweater and hiking boots and picking her way steadily along the trail with her poles. She had to be in her seventies. She was amazing.
We were slightly less inspiring. Eventually, though, we made it to the summit.
We took a look around and explored for a bit.
Then we settled in for lunch.
WB found the perfect little nook to make his hot cocoa.
Can you imagine a better view for cocoa drinking? Or a nicer place to read?
T manned our stove so that I could eat my soup.
In all honesty, it was a little too warm for it, but I was hungry. Probably should’ve gone with Subway.
Owen found a shady spot for a while, but then perched on an outcrop to watch the birds. It’s pretty cool when you can see a turkey vulture fly by at eye level and I guess he thought so, too.
A fellow hiker saw us snapping photos and kindly offered to get all three (well, four) of us. “Say, ‘Moat’!” he said and we all laughed (except Owie).
After a nice, long break we packed up and made the trek back down. We didn’t stop as often, so we made decent time and came out around 4:30 p.m. It was a good day’s work and a nice – if slightly aggressive – starter hike.
Even Owen was tired.