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Mtn-top
05-18-2004, 12:05 PM
Two weeks ago, as we planned our tripyramid hike, I said to Blue that I wanted a hike that would really beat us up. The tripyramids were long, but it didnít give us that completely used up feeling that I was looking for. This Sundayís hike, gave us what eluded us two weeks earlier.

We got a late start on Sunday morning partly because we got to The Cabin in Woodstock after 1:00 AM and partly because the soothing gentle rhythm of the rain made it hard to get out of bed that morning. By 8:15, however, we were on our way to the trailhead. After a quick stop to pick up some sandwiches for lunch, we arrived at the Ellis Falls parking area by 9:45 AM. We loaded up and hit the trail 5 minutes later. We picked our way across Ellis Brook and started up the very steep Wildcat Ridge Trail, passing a group of six right after the stream crossing.

Within a half hour, we had climbed 1500 feet and the views were spectacular. Unfortunately, they were the last views we would see for many hours to come. At about 3100 ft., the trail flattened out for a while and we found ourselves enshrouded in clouds. We trudged along to our first peak of the day; Wildcat E. E turned out to be the only Wildcat that was marked with any sign or symbol on the summit; we found a white painted E on a rock. We continued along past the top of the ski trails, the little observation platform and countless ups and downs until we finally summated Wildcat A. It was after 1:00 PM and time for lunch. For a fleeting minute, we had a quick view of the side of Carter Dome across the notch, but for the most part, we ate our lunch in the quiet and stillness of the clouds.

In studying the maps and guides, we knew one of the hardest parts of the dayís hike would be the descent into Carter Notch and the ascent of Carter Dome on the other side. Once on Carter Dome, the remaining eight miles would seem relatively easy. The descent turned out to be easier than expected and after a quick visit with the fill in caretaker at Carter Hut, we began our ascent of Carter Dome. Although this climb was less steep, the earlier climb up Wildcat had taken its toll on both Blue and I and our legs burned, as we climbed up from the notch. At about 4100 ft, the trail, as promised, leveled off and from there it was a leisurely, gentle climb to the flat top of Carter Dome.

Still enveloped in clouds, we decided not to take the spur off to Mt. Hight and instead continued on the Carter-Moriah trail down in the col between Carter Dome and South Carter. As luck always has it, the clearing that was supposed to happen late in the morning finally came and views into Pinkham Notch began to open up. Of course, had we chosen to go to Mt. Hight, known for itís magnificent views, it would have remained cloudy for the rest of the day, so it all worked out.

It was a gentle meander from the col up the north side of South Carter and when we got there we were surprised at the wonderful views that awaited us. Each turn of the trail seem to reveal a new vista and it made missing Mt. Hight that much more tolerable. One up and down after another we wandered along the ridge knocking off the Carters, snapping pictures all the way trying to make up for the cloud filled first half of the day.

It was 6 pm when we got to the sign for the Imp trail down and we knew it would that we should head down since the sun was setting at 8:05. But we also knew that North carter was just up the trail and we had come all that way; we just had to go summit it, so we did. The quick sprint over and back took us but 20 minutes and then we headed down. The trail at times was not just wet but an actual small brook. The split off to Imp face did not look like it would save us any time on the map, so we continued on course down to Rt. 16. The last ĺ of a mile was frustrating because we knew that a simple bushwhack of a couple of hundred yards would have brought us out to the highway which was running parallel to us, but the sun had just set and we were hesitant to bushwhack with the quickly diminishing light. Exhausted but happy, at 8:15 we popped out of the woods at the trailhead on Rt. 16 and then hitched a ride back to our car in no time flat.

Another great hike! Here are the numbers:

Miles Hiked: 14.2,
Time: 10:30 with breaks,
Number of NH 4Ks: 5,
Number of Vistas passed, countless.

We will post some pictures, soon.

-Mt. Top and Blue

RoySwkr
06-01-2004, 10:12 PM
Originally posted by Mtn-top
The last ĺ of a mile was frustrating because we knew that a simple bushwhack of a couple of hundred yards would have brought us out to the highway which was running parallel to us, but the sun had just set and we were hesitant to bushwhack with the quickly diminishing light.
Various proposals for a genuine trail to connect back to 19-Mile Brook have been around for 30 years but nothing ever happens. But about a mile before Rte.16 you cross a grassy woods road which if taken L runs nearly level .2 miles to AMC Camp Dodge Volunteeer Center. Walk .2 miles down the driveway to Rte. 16 and you're halfway back to 19-Mile Brook. Saves about a mile if you don't have a car to spot.