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Thread: Great minds think alike - Wildcat via the ski trail

  1. #1
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    Great minds think alike - Wildcat via the ski trail

    After a wet Saturday up north I was in need of a hike. I wasn't looking for a long day as I had a project at my wood lot. I started out thinking of Waumbek but figured it would be wet and muddy so switched to my old standby Kearsage North which meant heading south. My house is located on RT2 between Pinkham B and RT 16 in Gorham so I elected to drive via Pinkham B as I hadn't been over it yet this spring. As I pulled on Pinkham B, I saw a red pickup with the tell tale 48x12x6 NH plates ahead of me. I followed him over the "mogul" section of the road and when I was about halfway over the road I changed my mind to a quick hike up Wildcat. I followed the truck up RT 16 and as I was swinging into the left lane to turn into Wildcat I saw his blinker turn on. I parked near the red truck and out popped Ed Hawkins as expected. We were both heading up Wildcat and decided to hike together. We left a little after 8:30 AM. The views of most of the surrounding summits were good as we climbed up but Washington and Jefferson were in persistent clouds. The view north and east was better than I expected.

    I am decidedly pokey these days but managed to keep Ed's pace most of the way up but at some point near the last stretch to the summit I waved him ahead and dropped back to my normal pace. He is working on the Grid over age 70 currently. Ed visits Wildcat E by tradition since he started the his early hiking career when the E summit was the one of the two that counted. I agreed to meet him at the tower a the D summit. I wasn't that far behind him and ended up taking a 10 minute break waiting for Ed at the tower. I was starting to wonder if I had missed Ed and then heard him talking to someone coming up the trail. A few minutes later Ed walks up with a familiar face, Jeremy (Rocket 21) and a companion. Strange that there was no one else on the trails to this point and I ran into two white mountain notables on the same trip. Ed and Jeremy were adding on the A peak but given I had afternoon projects in Randolph elected to head down. While we were talking, some one working on her first 48 list came up on the platform. She was thinking about heading down the via the AT thinking it ended up close to Pinkham. I convinced her that the ski trails might be better option given the wet weather on Saturday. We did a quick trip down and was in the parking lot by 12:30. I gave her a ride to the Pinkham lot and headed home.

    The weather held out well until later in the afternoon and the bugs were almost nonexistent.

  2. #2
    Junior Member Shippy's Avatar
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    Wildcat trails use?

    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    After a wet Saturday up north I was in need of a hike. I wasn't looking for a long day as I had a project at my wood lot. I started out thinking of Waumbek but figured it would be wet and muddy so switched to my old standby Kearsage North which meant heading south. My house is located on RT2 between Pinkham B and RT 16 in Gorham so I elected to drive via Pinkham B as I hadn't been over it yet this spring. As I pulled on Pinkham B, I saw a red pickup with the tell tale 48x12x6 NH plates ahead of me. I followed him over the "mogul" section of the road and when I was about halfway over the road I changed my mind to a quick hike up Wildcat. I followed the truck up RT 16 and as I was swinging into the left lane to turn into Wildcat I saw his blinker turn on. I parked near the red truck and out popped Ed Hawkins as expected. We were both heading up Wildcat and decided to hike together. We left a little after 8:30 AM. The views of most of the surrounding summits were good as we climbed up but Washington and Jefferson were in persistent clouds. The view north and east was better than I expected.

    I am decidedly pokey these days but managed to keep Ed's pace most of the way up but at some point near the last stretch to the summit I waved him ahead and dropped back to my normal pace. He is working on the Grid over age 70 currently. Ed visits Wildcat E by tradition since he started the his early hiking career when the E summit was the one of the two that counted. I agreed to meet him at the tower a the D summit. I wasn't that far behind him and ended up taking a 10 minute break waiting for Ed at the tower. I was starting to wonder if I had missed Ed and then heard him talking to someone coming up the trail. A few minutes later Ed walks up with a familiar face, Jeremy (Rocket 21) and a companion. Strange that there was no one else on the trails to this point and I ran into two white mountain notables on the same trip. Ed and Jeremy were adding on the A peak but given I had afternoon projects in Randolph elected to head down. While we were talking, some one working on her first 48 list came up on the platform. She was thinking about heading down the via the AT thinking it ended up close to Pinkham. I convinced her that the ski trails might be better option given the wet weather on Saturday. We did a quick trip down and was in the parking lot by 12:30. I gave her a ride to the Pinkham lot and headed home.

    The weather held out well until later in the afternoon and the bugs were almost nonexistent.
    What Trails did you use to get to the summit? Just wondering.

  3. #3
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    The easiest way is to follow the maintenance road to the summit skipping a bit of the lower section. As you cross the bridge over the river behind the lodge you want to bear left and hike uphill in front of the Gondola and head up the Lower Polecat trail, follow that until you merge with the Stray Cat trail and you will also pick up the gravel maintenance road. From then on keep left at all junctions so you are always on the northern most trail in the ski area, which would be Catnap and then Upper Pole Cat. There are some shortcuts that folks familiar with the mountain use but the best approach is stick to the gravel road and it will bring you right to the top. The AT is on the top of the ridge line immediately behind the summit older summit building. There is an obvious trail to the left side of this building that connects up with the AT and then its short walk past a couple of easterly viewpoints to the summit platform. The hike over to the "A" looking over Carter Notch summit has several small ups and downs and can be wet in few spots. The open grass slopes tends to be great for wild strawberries which will be out in few weeks. There also is usually abundant milkweed later in the season and I have seen a lot of monarch butterfly's some years.

    When heading down the ski slopes remember to keep right bear until you left onto to the Lower Polecat, if you miss it and follow the maintenance road which is now called Stray Cat, don't get stressed it just ends a short distance north of the ski lodge.

    Note some of the more direct routes don't have walking trails down them and may just be high brush and blackberry bushes, not so good for hiking.

    One big caveat is many folks like to add in variety to their hikes and go up or down the AT from Pinkham Notch. It does add variety but the hike up or down from the summit from RT16 via the AT is overall quite steep and very steep in some spots with open ledges and fairly challenging climbing compared to the ski area especially when wet. If you elect to add this option I generally recommend folks ascend via the AT and descend via the ski trails so they get the hardest section out of the way early. The other note is that there is no reliable water sources on the ski trails later in the year.

  4. #4
    Senior Member jniehof's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    The other note is that there is no reliable water sources on the ski trails later in the year.
    The sole spring on Wildcat Ridge on the way up is mediocre as well. Completely dry when I went past it late one summer (80 degree day).

  5. #5
    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jniehof View Post
    The sole spring on Wildcat Ridge on the way up is mediocre as well. Completely dry when I went past it late one summer (80 degree day).
    Does Thompson Brook come close to the maintenance road at all? I've only skied it in winter, so I'm not totally sure where the brook actually starts flowing.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    After a wet Saturday up north I was in need of a hike. I wasn't looking for a long day as I had a project at my wood lot. I started out thinking of Waumbek but figured it would be wet and muddy so switched to my old standby Kearsage North which meant heading south. My house is located on RT2 between Pinkham B and RT 16 in Gorham so I elected to drive via Pinkham B as I hadn't been over it yet this spring. As I pulled on Pinkham B, I saw a red pickup with the tell tale 48x12x6 NH plates ahead of me. I followed him over the "mogul" section of the road and when I was about halfway over the road I changed my mind to a quick hike up Wildcat. I followed the truck up RT 16 and as I was swinging into the left lane to turn into Wildcat I saw his blinker turn on. I parked near the red truck and out popped Ed Hawkins as expected. We were both heading up Wildcat and decided to hike together. We left a little after 8:30 AM. The views of most of the surrounding summits were good as we climbed up but Washington and Jefferson were in persistent clouds. The view north and east was better than I expected.

    I am decidedly pokey these days but managed to keep Ed's pace most of the way up but at some point near the last stretch to the summit I waved him ahead and dropped back to my normal pace. He is working on the Grid over age 70 currently. Ed visits Wildcat E by tradition since he started the his early hiking career when the E summit was the one of the two that counted. I agreed to meet him at the tower a the D summit. I wasn't that far behind him and ended up taking a 10 minute break waiting for Ed at the tower. I was starting to wonder if I had missed Ed and then heard him talking to someone coming up the trail. A few minutes later Ed walks up with a familiar face, Jeremy (Rocket 21) and a companion. Strange that there was no one else on the trails to this point and I ran into two white mountain notables on the same trip. Ed and Jeremy were adding on the A peak but given I had afternoon projects in Randolph elected to head down. While we were talking, some one working on her first 48 list came up on the platform. She was thinking about heading down the via the AT thinking it ended up close to Pinkham. I convinced her that the ski trails might be better option given the wet weather on Saturday. We did a quick trip down and was in the parking lot by 12:30. I gave her a ride to the Pinkham lot and headed home.

    The weather held out well until later in the afternoon and the bugs were almost nonexistent.
    Ran into him on Waumbec, last week. Although, until reading your post, never knew who he was. He didn't seem to interested in my dog, lol. Heard he wasn't a fan of hiking dog's, not sure if that's true. I'm definitely not part of the inner circle.

  7. #7
    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sierra View Post
    Ran into him on Waumbec, last week. Although, until reading your post, never knew who he was. He didn't seem to interested in my dog, lol. Heard he wasn't a fan of hiking dog's, not sure if that's true. I'm definitely not part of the inner circle.
    Sometimes it is better not to be the chosen one.
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