Tag Archives: Recreation

Say, “Moat”!

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.

Owen waiting at Subway

Waiting for Daddy

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 trailhead

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.

South Moat trail bridge

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.

Taking a break

I got some love from Owen while the boys talked.

Love from Owie

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.

Owen finds shade

Owen's shady spot.

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.

View of Chocorua 

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.

South Moat summit marker

South Moat summit marker

We took a look around and explored for a bit.

View from South Moat

Ignore the awkward leash position.

Then we settled in for lunch.

Me at Lunch

WB found the perfect little nook to make his hot cocoa.

WB's hot cocoa 

Can you imagine a better view for cocoa drinking? Or a nicer place to read?

WB and Owen reading

T manned our stove so that I could eat my soup.

T at the stove 

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.

Owen on South Moat 

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).

Say "Moat"!

Say "Moat"!

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.

Owen sacked out

Sacked out in the back.

Snowy Willard

**NEW! I’ve added a survey section to Mowenackie called, “Tell Me”. You’ll find the current poll question in the righthand sidebar. Won’t you “Tell Me” more about you? Thanks!**

My window is a black and white photograph of a snowy winter scene. Oh, there are colors, of course: the dull French gray of tree trunks spiking up out of endless white; a darker green peeking from under snowy pine branches; and the paler green of a moss whispering, Spring is not lost forever.

But Old Man Winter is letting us know he’s still in control today and the chaos of blowing snow sheens everything colorless.

It’s beautiful.

T likes summer with its vibrant blues and greens, but winter is so…sophisticated in its starkness. The stars are sharper, the moon is brighter and the trees are pointedly dignified.

(I’m trying to put more description in my writing. Is it working?)

And best of all, I now have someone to help me shovel.

T shovelling

Owen, too, loves winter. With his heavy white coat and padded neck, this dog was built for snow. Don’t tell me it wasn’t Fate that rescued him from the deep South and brought him up here. Some things in the world have to make sense.

Owen in the snow

He likes to play tug-of-war with himself.

tug-of-war in the snow

Because he’s a freak. He also likes to eat snow. Clean snow. Dirty snow. Soft snow, crunchy snow. A lot of snow.

Owen eats snow

Because he’s a freak.

Anyway…

The fluttering flakes instantly inspired a trail tribute.

So, here is a post I should’ve posted long ago:

Snowy Willard

We did our first winter hike! Back in December, when T first got home, we spent a few days up at Bear Mountain Lodge. While we were there, we took a few hours one afternoon to hike Mount Willard.

Willard Trailhead

All 2,865 ft of it. Okay, fine. The elevation gain was only 900 ft. But the views were as good as some of the 3,500-footers I’ve been on and the trail itself, with its snow-blanketed trees, was almost as lovely as anything I’ve ever seen.

T on Willard

It was a good pick for our first winter trail. The slight slip of the snow gave a little extra challenge to a 3-mile roundtrip hike and, though we carried our snowshoes, we never needed them on the packed trail.

Which is good, because I hate snowshoeing. It’s way too much work.

The incline of this trail had me sweating pretty good, though. I was stripping off layers at every turn. By the time we reached the top I was down to my polypro shirt and microfleece and I was carrying my hat and mittens.

T commented that the snow overhang made it feel like we were walking in a closed corridor. This was true and never more evident than as we broke through to the summit.

Towards Willard summit

(Look familiar? See blog header for reference.)

Once we hit the ledge on top…

Willard Summit

Did I mention that the views were amazing?

Still on the emotional high that comes from reuniting with a husband who had been in a war zone for nine months, every day of which I feared for his safety, I cried tears of awe and joy as I looked out over this scene. Hiking with T infused me with more happiness than I thought I could feel again and it overwhelmed me in wave after wave.

Me & T on Willard

Once we had looked our fill and were starting to feel chilly, we started back. On the way down, we came across a gray jay. Gray jays are pretty much blue jays, only slightly bigger and, um, gray.

gray jay

They also differ from blue jays in that they have no fear. Whereas blue jays are screaming pansies that shy away from chickadees at the bird feeder, gray jays will perch lightly on your hand to peck daintily at a proffered crumb.

 No really.

gray jay on Mt Tom

Mt Tom (shown above) is the only other place I’ve seen gray jays. T, Denis and I spent a chilly afternoon one September in 2007 feeding them portions of our lunch.

Seeing them on Willard was like seeing an old friend. Everything about this hike was perfect.

Or maybe I was just seeing it through rose-colored glasses.

T+S

But I’m okay with that.