Friday, July 24, 2015

Moat Traverse Loop

Friday- After some pretty short runs, I had a nice Moat Range Traverse run in my plan for today. But my idea of a traverse has to be a solo one, so there's no running from one end to the other and picking up my spotted car. If I had tried that, my car wouldn't have been there waiting for me. It would still be on High St where I left it. So if I want to do a traverse, that means I have to traverse then make my way back. I came up with this run as my New Year's Day run this year. We hadn't had that much snow by then, but I had some scary moments on the ice on that one. The run was awesome, though, so I couldn't wait to do it again. After last Sunday's failed attempt at North Moat with Mike and John, I had to hit it this week.

I had completely forgotten to drop my time sheet at work yesterday so I had to go to the base first. I tried to go in to the crew office all stealth so I could get in and out quickly. It kind of worked. One person spotted me, but he had to head out on a wheelchair run so he couldn't talk long. I dropped yesterday's report and my time card in the box and bolted to High Street.

I parked in the lot by the High School Loop. Oh and if you know anyone who lost a bra over there, it's hanging on a tree by the parking lot.
Is this yours?
I started on the High School Loop, but when it veered right, I stayed straight until the right turn on the former Moat Mt Trail. It climbs for about a mile before reaching the current Moat Mt Trail. Almost at the top, I came across a bear in the trail ahead. I had a few seconds to watch it before it saw me. I must have scared it because it darted into the woods and ran away quickly. Lots of bear sightings lately. Pretty neat. I continued on up South Moat and ran into a mom with her young son resting on the trail a little ways up. Oh the nostalgia! That was me 8 years ago carrying John up the same trail!! 
15-month old John on South Moat Mt, June 2007
I talked with her briefly, then moved on. The climb was kicking my ass today. It always does, but today seemed especially tough, even with the cooler temps. I was still sweating like a pig, though. About 3/4 of the way up, I came across something I had never seen up there before. Three people were carrying mountain bikes up the mountain. I cannot imagine ANY trail that is bikeable up there or back down. I'm no real mountain biker, though, so what do I know. But still. Every trail back down is wicked steep and/or really rocky. I don't think they had been up there before either because they were all headed way off trail by the time I got to them. I told them the trail went "this way" as I passed by, and I could hear one of them tell the others, "Hey! The trail goes that way!" I got the hell out of there before I had to be a part of any rescue. I actually asked Sol tonight if they got any calls at Conway Fire for injured mountain bikers on the Moats. Ha ha. He said no, so I'm assuming they made it back down in one piece somehow. Very strange sight, though. Not really a mountain I'd pick to ride my bike on, but like I said, I'm no expert mountain biker.

As I got to the top of South Moat, I started to see the blueberries. TONS of them. I couldn't help but stop to pick some. I wasn't planning to stop for long on the top of South Moat, but I actually needed to drink some water. This is rare for me, and I usually don't even bring any. As I was drinking, I looked over towards the Kanc and spotted the faintest rainbow cutting across some of the mountains. It was hardly noticeable, and I tried to get a picture of it, but it didn't come out at all.
Invisible rainbow

View towards Heavenly Hill and Madison

Conway Lake, Pleasant Mt in Maine
I didn't stay long since I was actually crunched for time, but I didn't make it far across the ridge before I was seeing a gazillion blueberries. How could I not stop? I could have spent an hour up there picking berries, but I just picked a few, ran on, picked more, ran on, etc., until I was at the end of the open ridge and headed down into the woods. 

Yes. I'm thinking the same thing.

Middle and North Moats on the left

The trail descends into the woods and then climbs back up to Middle Moat where the Red Ridge Trail veers right. That is my "short" Moat Loop run. I continued on the Moat Mountain Trail which once again descended into the woods before a long, sometimes technical, ascent up to the summit of North Moat, which has one of my favorite views in the Whites. The weather was starting to turn at this point, and the wind was pretty strong. I tried to take a video, but with the loud wind, you can't hear a thing I'm saying, and I look like an idiot. Ha ha. I'll share it anyway.

The last time I descended North Moat, the summit was a sheet of ice, and I had some very scary moments making my way down. Today, the trail was super dry, so it was a much easier time going down. The entire trail was actually drier than I had ever seen it, so running down was much easier than usual. A light rain started when I was only about a quarter of the way down, but it didn't have much effect on the rock slabs being slippery. It was a long run down to where the trail nearly flattens out, the same place John, Mike and I turned around on Sunday. Running this part is super quick. At the Red Ridge Trail, I crossed the brook and started another long gradual climb to the Red Ridge Link, a steeper 1/2 mile climb up to the Whitehorse Ledge Trail. I was only on this briefly before I turned onto the Lower Stoney Ridge Trail, part of the Mineral Site Network. I followed this for quite a ways until it reached FS Rd 739 which I took for the next 2.5 miles back to my car at the High School Loop. I finished off my run at 14.2 miles in over 3 hours with 3,974 ft of elevation gain. A lot of climbing but also a lot of downhills.

I was pretty beat after the run since I had only had some toast beforehand. I was in a bit of a hurry to get home to shower and then head off to my hair appointment. John and his dad pulled into the driveway right in front of me, so John could be dropped off for the weekend. I quickly ate a bowl of cereal, showered and then headed off into tourist hell to get my hair done. I could not a find a place to park since it was Percy the Train hell over at the train station, so I parked in the North Conway Post Office lot. John and I got on the railroad tracks to walk up to Seavey St. As we're walking, this car comes to a stop in front of us and this guy starts yelling at me, "Get off the tracks!!! It's dangerous!!! There's a train coming!!" At first, I thought this had to be some sort of joke. The tracks we were walking on are not used except once every couple of years maybe for a special event. I can't even remember the last time they were used. I just stared at him and kept walking. He started yelling the same thing AGAIN and seemed very irate, maybe since I was risking my son's life and all. LOL. Dum-dum. I still just stared at him and kept walking. At this point, he angrily threw his hands in the air, like, "I give up!" Then he drove off. Seriously? WTF. I'm assuming he thought this was part of the main rail line and that Percy was about to come run us down. Ha ha. I was super annoyed, though. The town is freaking madhouse with tourists acting like idiots. It's so frustrating.

We made it to my hair appointment with my friend, Nina. John brought his computer along to use so he was all set. I hadn't had my haircut and color since March so, most days, it looked like I had stuck my finger in a light socket. I can only afford this 3 times a year, so I always put it off as long as possible. It was finally time. It's nice to get pampered a little bit, even if it's only 3 times a year. Ha ha.

John wanted a hot chocolate at Frontside Grind after, so we walked there. I was coffeed out, so I just got the hot chocolate for him.
John at Frontside Grind
We walked to the playground after so John could play for awhile. Note the woman below in white capris. The first time John jumped off the swing, she was horrified. In this video, she does not look amused. Ha ha ha. The girl standing in front of me laughing is actually someone we've known from Saco Valley Gymnastics for a few years. Shawna knows John well.

 On the way home, I had some road rage outbursts and took enforcement of the one-lane bridge rule into my own hands. You can't use the bridge while I'm on it if I park my car right in front of yours, now can you? My blasting horn was just to ensure I got my point across. I guess the "One Lane Bridge" and "Yield" signs just weren't obvious enough. At this point, I needed to be home in my peaceful place. Driving during tourist season just sends me over the edge. It felt good to be back in the quiet for the rest of the night.

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