Cliffs over the Kancamangus: Fall Foliage Sunrise Hike October 7 2016

31st October 2016

First light over the Swift River valley (which the famous Kancamangus Highway NH Route 112 follows) looking west. Several 4000 footers are visible in the shot above including Mt. Whiteface left, and the Tripyramids right.

A dream for any lover of the beautiful New England fall foliage season might be to watch the sunrise from a mountaintop over valleys erupting with peak colors. A nice forecast coincided with the Friday and Saturday of Columbus Day weekend and allowed me to live that dream this year!

I visited the highest ledges on a spur of Moat Mountain accessed by the Boulder Loop Trail off the famous Kancamangus highway (NH Route 112). Later that day, I am sure the road was mobbed, but nobody was on it when I drove it in the dark that morning. Arriving at the trailhead, I hesitated a few minutes to get going until I could see without a headlamp. The hike was 1.5 miles and nearly 1000 feet of vertical gain to get to the best ledges and I was kicking myself for thinking I could start hiking that "late" and still make it to the top before sunrise while carrying photo gear. I made it, but just barely. But I wish I started immediately since I was not in a good position for the nice pre-dawn light.

Here are the shots I did manage to get:

Early morning light on neighboring Mt. Chocorua 3500'.

Same view zoomed out. I loved how burly the contours of the mountain looked shadowed by the low angle sun.

Even more zoomed out you can see the cliff in the foreground that I climbed over first in the twilight.

Those cliffs were interesting!

The inside shoulder of the start of the Moat Mountain ridgeline.

My sunrise perch on the cliff along the Boulder Loop trail. It was a straight 500 foot drop-- no bounces-- kind of scary to be on top of so I used extreme caution setting up this shot with my tripod.

What a great way to start peak foliage season! After this hike I went on an overnight hike to Carter Notch for more photography and to climb Carter Dome and Wildcat Mountain. I will post this as a separate blog entry when I get time. The color there and lighting for sunset and sunrise was great!

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