|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||Mt. Jim, Mt. Moosilauke (attempt), NH|
||Ravine Lodge Road, Asquam-Ridge Trail, Al Merrill Loop|
|Date of Hike:
||Sunday, July 12, 2020|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||Ravine Lodge Road is in relatively good condition - my small FWD vehicle didn't have too much issues. We still have to park 0.8 miles from the fork in Ravine Lodge Road - I really wish the DOC would open the rest of the road so that we could park at the fork (which is how things used to be). There's a porta-potty right at the fork that is open - the Lodge itself is closed. I was gratified to see that Route 118 from Warren has been substantially patched (and in some places, repaved) since March, when it was in horrible condition. It is now much more easily driveable. |
||Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Standing/Running Water on Trail, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||Both major crossings on the lower Asquam-Ridge Trail are bridged (which is one of the reasons why I chose this hike, since I knew water levels would be high). Plenty of minor creeks on a wet day like this, but they were all easy step-overs. Al Merrill Loop has several small wooden bridges over drainages. |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||Two major blowdowns on Al Merrill Loop. Both had their branches trimmed, but are still significant obstacles because of their height - going under would've required crawling on wet ground, and going over was difficult too. Both trails had substantial eroded sections, which were sometimes tricky with all the wet rocks today. All signs were in place, however there was no cairn or marking of any sort at the summit of Mt. Jim (or, if there was, I didn't see it). |
||Didn't see any. If they like puddles and mud, then I guess they'd have been OK. |
||Very few until the lower Al Merrill Loop, when they started to come out. But they were never annoying enough even there to put my head net on, and I didn't apply bug spray. |
|Lost and Found:
||There was a blue article of clothing (it looked like maybe a fleece) at the junction of Asquam-Ridge and Beaver Brook trails. Due to all the rain we've got recently, it looked soaked. I did not touch it. ||
||I knew what type of hike I was looking for today - a hike that was higher in elevation (so that it wouldn't be so hot), but not above treeline (due to the chance of a thunderstorm), without any difficult river crossings (since the water levels would be high), and without views (since I knew I wouldn't see anything anyway). And that's exactly what I got on this hike.|
For most of the first half of the hike, the weather alternated between light rain, and cloudy with no rain. The trails were, as expected, very wet, and the rocks were very slippery, which required caution. Grades were pretty gentle for pretty much the entire time - even the switchbacks going up Mt. Jim were gradual. Mt. Jim is one of those summits that always seems to be close, but then you round a corner and see that there's more. Once I reached the summit, I found what I think was the short herd path to the true summit, however there was no cairn, sign, or markings of any sort at the top. The herd path seemed to continue past several blowdowns, but it looked like it went downhill so I didn't follow it any further.
On the upper part of Asquam-Ridge Trail, there were several extensive areas of standing water on the trail (and a few places with running water, but there was more standing water). The col between Jim and the junction with Beaver Brook Trail was particularly bad - several fairly long stretches of trail were almost completely underwater, with very few (if any) stepping-stones to get across. I did notice some waterbars on Asquam-Ridge, but it clearly needs more. Temperatures on Mt. Jim were definitely no more than the mid-60s, and there was a nice wind blowing - easy to forget that it was 90 in Southern NH.
The first part of Al Merrill Loop, up to the height of land, was a narrow footpath with easy-to-moderate grades - it didn't look that much like a ski trail. It was steadily raining for much of this stretch, and while the footing wasn't too bad, I still had to be careful about the wet rocks. But as I approached the height of land, the rain stopped, the trail got wider and the footing got better. The viewpoint didn't have a view (Moosilauke's summit was in the clouds), but on the way down, the sun gradually started to come out. The upper Al Merrill Loop generally had better footing than the lower part - the lower part was more rocky and eroded, however the trail has drainage ditches that seem to help somewhat. Grades were very easy the whole way down.
Overall, this hike was about 11 miles, and took me just under 6 hours. The easy grades and (in some places) smooth roads/trails helped. I never let rain get me down!
Disclaimer: Reports are not verified - conditions may vary. Use at own risk. Always be prepared when hiking. Observe all signs. Trail conditions reports are not substitutes for weather reports or common sense.