The golfing gals, Sarah and Sharon, had so much fun hiking the Carters a few weeks ago that they brought along a few more friends when we returned to hike Mount Moriah. Mount Moriah is the furthest north 4,000 footer peak on the Carter-Moriah Trail and the section between Carter Notch and Mount Moriah is part of the Appalachian Trail.
We were a group of seven gals. Sarah, Sharon, Nancy, Keelin, Barb, Ellen and I met at the top of Franconia Notch at 8am. We drove two cars to Carter-Moriah’s northern trailhead at the end of Bangor Street in Gorham. Ellen and I gave everyone a head start while we dropped off one of the cars at the Rattle River Trailhead about five miles further east on Rte 2 where we would be finishing our outing.
There is limited parking on Bangor Street and only a few cars can fit in the power line right of way. There is no parking at the end of the residential street where the trail begins. Up the old logging road Ellen and I hiked hard and steady. About half way up Mount Surprise we caught our friends. The day was rapidly turning into a pleasant clear, sunny day, but not too hot and surprisingly no bugs.
We chatted and hiked steadily. The ledges on the way up Surprise offer splendid views of the Northern Presidentials. We could still see the shrinking snow patch high up on Mount Jefferson—won’t be long now before it all melts away.
We only took one short break, a Surprise party (ha, ha) when Barb opened her pack and gave each of us one of her homemade yummy granola bars. Three hours on the trail and we made Moriah’s summit by noon.
Moriah’s summit is a small roundish ledge knob. There were seven people and one cutie pie black dog sitting on top. I don’t think we chased them away but they left shortly after we arrived. We ate lunch and I munched down my peanut butter and honey sandwich. The wind was blowing and we all donned our jackets to fight the chill. I pointed to Shelburne Moriah and explained that it was a “52 with a View” peak; the list they should do next!
After our leisurely summit lunch we continued north on the Appalachian Trail via the Kenduskeag Trail. According to the AMC White Mountain Guide, Kenduskeag is an Abenaki word that means “a pleasant walk”. Right off there is a tricky steep ledge and a couple of backpackers had to wait while our long line worked our way down. We then enjoyed some nice outlooks towards Shelburne Moriah and far north. For the next mile the trail has steep sections broken up by flat wet areas that we crossed on a good number of bog bridges.
When we reached the intersection of Rattle River the enthusiasm to make it home in time for supper was greater than hiking almost three more miles round trip to visit Shelburne Moriah Mountain. Plus continuing on the Kenduskeag Trail didn’t look pleasant here, as far as you could see it was a big black mud pit. I have been to Shelburne Moriah twice before but never on this trail. I couldn’t resist and I said I’d catch up to them later. My friends know I do a lot of solo hiking so they weren’t concerned (only my mother worries about me; mom even bought me a PLB, a personal locator beacon).
I dodged the mud as best as I could and I was pleasantly surprised at the number of bog bridges and that they were in good condition too. There are many sections that desperately need to be clipped, the spruce have grown in and hide the trail’s foot bed. But what a glorious trail that lives up to its Abenaki name. I traveled through alpine bogs and open ledges gifting me a grand panorama over the Wild River Wilderness and beyond. I would have liked to have
lingered on the summit but I turned right around and began my game of catch up. My adventure took me an hour.
Rattle River Trail leaves the ridge on more bog bridges before descending very steeply down many large stone steps. I ponder the fact that all AT hikers have to navigate these steps with carrying heavy backpacks. The trail crosses the Rattle River a few times and thankfully, here higher up, it is more like a big brook.
Just before reaching the Rattle River Shelter I met my friends. They explained they took a long break along the river and then stopped to bandage a hot spot before it became a blister on Sharon’s toe. I am happy to be back with my friends and I’m even happier everyone is having a good time. There was even talk of another hike soon.
From the shelter the trail is above the river and follows an old logging road that is wide and soft on our feet. We quickly danced down the trail.
All seven of us squeezed into the large SUV for the short drive back to the other car and it wasn’t even 4 o’clock yet! Thankfully Barb and Ellen weren’t in a hurry so we stopped at the Scoggins Ice Cream Shack in Gorham and had big ice cream cones.
Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.