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Moose-McKenzie-Pitchoff mountains for the opening salvo!

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Moose-McKenzie had been weighing on me for some time. I knew the trail between was very lightly traveled and so I hiked it in October. I went up from the Jackrabbit Trail over McKenzie to Moose then came back to the Two Brooks junction and down to Lake Placid. For some reason I thought I would do it this way for P-100. I knew that in spite of it being marked, this hike had the potential to be very long and hard, more like a bushwhack. So I was glad to have Joe Bogardus, David Gomlak and Glen Bladholm lined up to go with me and my gps track log.

And then who should go out and do it the day before? Pinpin and the Queen! They did a fantastic job staying on the path in what were assuredly difficult conditions. It must have been tricky because there were a good number of exploratory dead-ends to their snowshoe track. The woods were covered in very heavy and thick snow (pictures posted yesterday) and by the time we got close to McKenzie the snowshoe trail was filling in with close to 5'' of fresh powder.

It was 4 degrees on McKenzie and we descended to Bartlett Pond, 1200 feet below in like 5 minutes before walking out at a more leisurely but nonetheless brisk pace. Fast forward 60 minutes....

I was sporting a dry shirt and mitts, a fresh hard-shell and shell mitts and had put shell pants on over my wet OR Cirque pants and we started out up the trail to Pitchoff mountain. Long story short, it kicked our butts. We chose the wrong turn at a Y intersection and ascended very steep and icy terrain before we found ourselves below some sketchy cliffs in fading daylight. There was no way we wanted to descend that in the dark. So, we backtracked only to see a trail marker right at the Y in the trail showing the correct path. Before that “interlude” we had incredible, awe-inspiring views through the gloom to the slide on Cascade.

Someone had hiked the trail the day before but we were in 7'' of new snow with no tread-way showing but we felt the base underneath. We switched leads regularly and went slowly. Headlamps came on just past the spur junction to balancing rock. I myself didn't eat or drink enough in between hikes and my ass was dragging. Took us 2 hours and 30 minutes to make the top and an hour and ten minutes to return to the car and head back to Tom and Doreen's for a hot shower, food and drink and a good night's sleep.

Day one and 3 peaks were retreating in the rearview as we immediately discussed tomorrow's plan.

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