Skip to content

Moosilauke: Little Boy, Big Mountain

One noteworthy footnote about Mr. P and I is that, in our pre-Little Boy days, we spent about 4 and half years climbing all 48 4000+ foot mountains in the White Mountains region of New Hampshire, finishing with the beautiful Bondcliff in May of 2010. Obviously, welcoming Little Boy into our lives put a damper (well worth it, of course!) on our mountain adventures… but only a temporary damper (evil Mommy giggle).

Now, I will say one thing about Little Boy: He is not thrilled by the mere act of hiking. He would much rather be frolicking in the swimming pool, playing on the playground, or doing just about anything else aside from walking in the woods. So, we offer incentives and bribery (post-hike pizza, hamburgers, television) and make it interesting along the way (finding technical trails with lots of rocks, playing “throw pine cones at the leader”, grossly exaggerating our inability to follow simple cairns/trail markers, etc.). We don’t want to force our interests on Little Boy, but Mr. P and I both believe in the benefits of taking little kids on big hikes: for the exercise and uninterrupted family time; to build an appreciation, understanding, and respect of nature; and for all the character-building that comes with climbing mountains (patience, confidence, self-reliance).

So, hiking all of the White Mountain 4000-footers with Little Boy (starting him young, progressing to his ‘tweens) has been sort of an idea of ours for a while, after he proved himself physically able to walk for 6-7 hours. We choose Moosilauke as his first 4000-footer because of the stupendous bald summit, of its popularity (Little Boy moves much better when he sees a lot of other hikers), and the relatively gradual climb. I mean, gradual for a 4000-footer. It was still about 3.7 miles up 2450 feet of elevation gain, then 3.7 miles back… in retrospect, a little too much for those little legs, but I don’t think it completely destroyed him because he was running to the car at the end. I mean, sprinting. Kid wanted to get the heck away from that mountain.

To back up: we left for the White Mountains on Saturday morning. En route to the campground near Mount Moosiluake, we stopped at Rattlesnake Mountain near Plymouth, a short but steep 1000-foot climb that yielded a decent view and a veritable shitload of wild blueberries.

Digging into lunch (and flask!) at the meager summit

Foraging for blueberries

Checking berries before consumption

I look pushy, but I'm really telling Little Boy how the trail markers painted on bald rocks sometimes tell us to turn

Us on Rock

After the short but rewarding hike, we checked into our campground. Instead of a state park, we opted to try one of those gigantic, RV-ridden family campgrounds because it had a spectacular pool with a water slide that we knew Little Boy would love. Thankfully, the camp sites themselves are fairly wooded and clean, so it was worth it just to see Little Boy’s face when he saw the pool…

Campground Pool

I really didn’t want to go in the pool, but Little Boy and Mr. P were insistent… I think because they wanted to forever embarrass me with this picture:

One of us is dreading the plunge

After romping in the pool, we headed back to the campsite for dinner. Gourmet campfire cuisine, comin’ up.

Hotdogs and various grilled nightshades

Upon waking on Sunday morning, we fueled up on carbs and headed off to the Moosilauke trailhead, arriving promptly at 9am. Little Boy flew for the first two miles. I mean, Killian Journet-style flew. As we predicted, the sight of other people on the trail was highly motivating; we passed a group of older hikers and he was obsessed by the notion that they would catch up to us. Knowing his energy would be rapidly depleted, we tried to temper his pace but he kept going. Until about mile 2, when he began to complain and would only proceed after being fed gummy snacks.

Flying up the trail

Technical and steep trail = more gummy snacks

Reaching the cairns and in view of the summit-- "Mama, I'm not bored anymore"

This is fun!

The shot of the day, courtesy of the talented Mr. P

Summit at last!

It wasn’t easy… but that’s sort of the point. I made a big deal about the hike afterwards — giving Little Boy lots of indulgences, because “You hiked a mountain.” That’s what I want him to remember. I want him to look at his legs and think “These legs climb mountains” so that he may revel in the pure power of himself.

Posted in Existence.

Tagged with , .