Mt. Moriah (4049)
Trail: Rattle River, Kenduskeag
Date: Friday Aug. 30 Saturday, Aug 31’st
Attending: Shawn, Gary, Gabe, Simone and John
Miles: 12Time: 8Hrs.
AMC huts, / shelters / camping site:Rattle River Shelter
Weather: Partly cloudy, high 70’s at the base, 60’s on the summit
# 45 for us.
“The finest workers in stone are not copper or steel tools, but the gentle touches of air and water working at their leisure with a liberal allowance of time”. ..Henry David Thoreau
This trail is a hike of extremes that manages to balance out into a trail worth hiking at least once. We’re glad we did this hike, but we’re not likely to hike this trail again. The Rattle River Trail is the last leg of the AT on the Carter Moriah Range. It crosses Rt. 2 app. 4 miles east of Gorham NH. Our approach to bagging this peak was to drive up to Gorham (4 hours) on Friday afternoon, hike in 1.6 miles from Rt. 2. to the Rattle River Shelter for Friday Night and day hike to the peak on Saturday. This first stretch of the hike hardly breaks a 4-degree incline. The Trail is wide enough for 2 hikers abreast, with hardly a bolder to break one’s stride. The temps were cool, but the humidity was extremely high from the recent rains. We made it to the shelter in 45 minutes. What a nice place to spend the night. The shelter could sleep 6 to 8, and has a half dozen tent sites. Several of the sites are along the side of Rattle River next to one of the most awesome basins 12Ft. across and 7Ft. deep. Plan to get wet! This basin is impossible to resist. We couldn’t! (About 10 minutes farther up the trail is another irresistible swimming pool and water slide.) We met an elderly lady (Mary) that’s a real mile monster. She’s completed section hiking the AT, The Long Trail, the New England 4K’s and more. She refers to herself as a trail snail, but we never caught up to her and she was hauling a full pack. We met Rolling Stone, (a North to South) through hiker, enjoying his experience. I fear he’s running a bit late, but our best wishes go with him in hopes that he makes his goal to finish his quest by Christmas. Gary had a surprise for the evening; he packed enough dry wood up to the shelter for an evening fire. Simone and I opted to sleep in the shelter with Mary and Rolling Stone.
After a relatively sleepless night for all of us, Gary awoke to catch a glimpse of a fishercat on the side of the river looking for breakfast. Our breakfast consisted of the usual bag of oatmeal. We packed our daypacks for the trip, and stashed the backpacks in the shelter. The first mile after the shelter is very moderate, but as with every 4K, eventually you’ve got to pick up the elevation somewhere. Once this trail starts it’s assent, it never lets up for the next 2 miles. (It’s almost stairway steep). Thank God for the cool morning temps and the cloud ceiling that hadn’t burnt off yet. The last 1.6 miles on the Kenduskeag are moderate, but by the time we got to this section I was beat and every steep section took more than I wanted to give.
The last tenth of the trail to the peak is a rock scramble to an open knob about 20 ft. in diameter. We were really in need of the relaxing hour we spent on the summit enjoying the 360-degree views. We met a family of 5 that hiked up the Carter Moriah trail. The Father was just finishing his 48, and the children (ages 10 to 13) were hiking their first.
Our descent was just as I expected, tough on the knees. The flat section of the trail was a relief we all needed. Once we hit the flats we all zoned out and headed full stride for the shelter. Swimming in the basin was the driving motivation. Cold water! Full emersion! Total renewal! Every hot spot, sore joint, and tight muscle washed away in just a few minutes of exquisite refreshing mountain river water. The hike out to the car seemed like it was over in a blink of the eye and we never broke a sweat.