by John V. Bellantoni, your cybah-spaced mountain correspondent

1991-1992 Mt. Moosilauke, New Hampshire

MoosalaukeNobody was hoping for a repeat of last year and that was exactly what was served up by NH. Sitting around comfortably, i.e that means at home before that expedition, the group discussed the prospects for adventure. Last year the introduction of Bigtop as a key survival technique was paramount on the minds of the participants. Most notably a discussion raged as to how it's key survival power versus its ridiculous weight could be justified in a full mountain assault. Plus with the usual "where we going this year" argument going on it there was quite a lively pre-expedition discussion and preparations.

Tripping starts off with Rt. 93 driving and the double car dump at Greely Ponds Trail, the head of which is off the Kangie. Bigtop the first night is on a thin layer snow that is barely holding together a piece of the White Mountain countryside. Next day warmer temperatures and rain finds the campers quickly packing it up as the liquefying ground underneath threatens to absorb them. A mad hike in the cold rain is made up the Greely Ponds Trail where a lean-to shelter is thought to exist at the top, that is, according to the Geologic Survey Map done in the 50s. Well the geologic guys have not been in that there part of the woods since then and right on the spot where they claim a lean-too exists there is nothing but serene wood and lot of getting rained on bad. It is raining so hard in fact that Tim's tarp is put up for some temporary relief from the downpour.

By now the crew is tired, annoyed and getting wetter by the second, so the decision is made to bail. After the soaking trudge down, Mark's truck is found to have been broken into and his radar detector gone. Things are icing up bad on the road as they drive over to the Jeffers Brook Shelter. Only the skillful driving of Mark and JB, including several shear ice skids by JB all over the road, get the group across the White Mountains alive. Fife rightfully compares the ride to "all them kamikaze bus rides in some third world country where you read about busses loaded with terrorized passengers careening off twisted mountain passes."

Car drop is at the side of a quaint New England road and the Jeffer's Brook Shelter dries the crew out. Next day it's up the trail that is loaded with gomers due to warm weather. The four put Bigtop down in a nice stream valley within ear shot of the summit trail. From here they bushwack across and up the mountain to reach the 4812 foot summit the next day. Novak is put out by the entire affair, as the weather is so warm that gomers with kids using toboggans had made it up the Jeep Trail to within 500 feet elevation of the peak. Still that last 500 was a no-mans wilderness land. JB scores the "Ansel Adams" award with a shot of Fife chuffing the rock strewn tundra.(top) And the good weather allows the photo shoot to continue as Fife records "JB Conquers the Wilderness" on film.

Back at base camp the crew is flat out bored with the warm conditions so lots of wood is chopped up while camp parties on a discussion of plans. Next day stakes are pulled and after a classic JB vrs. Novak argument, in which Novak wins, the hike is on and camp is set up on a rock face on the trail that Novak had insisted upon. Although the rock face looks flat, in actuality it is not, and ingenious ways are devised to keep from sliding off it, i.e. like staying up all night. JB is all for leaving behind the destruction they had made, but Fife thwarts his plans by throwing all the cut up wood in every which direction as camp is busted.

Copyright 1999 John Bellantoni and HAE