The Wildcats and Carter Dome via... see post for trails - 2/14/13

NH Tramper

Apr 10, 2012
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North Conway, NH Avatar: Cannon Mtn.
Trails: In order... Lost Pond Tr, Wildcat Ridge Tr, Carter-Moriah Tr, Carter Dome Tr, 19-Mile Brook Tr.

Date of Hike: Feb. 14, 2013

Trail Conditions: Snowy trails, many were unbroken, here's the blow-by-blow... The Lost Pond Tr was roughly packed out and was a little lumpy from a couple of barebooters the day before probably, but the dense snow was soft enough for us to crush it flat again so the walking was pretty easy. Wildcat Ridge Tr was also roughly packed out from probably the same people, but only to about half way up to E-peak -- they turned around at the site of a nice summer-rocky overlook facing south. We had to break trail from there all the way to the D-peak ski patrol building. Due to the density of the pack, even though we sunk into it pretty good, it made for slow going. There also a couple of blowdowns, one a gnarly 'whack-around, fresh, and the other, also a simple 'whack-around, on the way down to the notch from A-peak (also fresh we think). Speaking of which, the trail was broken out by an out-and-back-via-the-ski-area snowshoer from D- to A-peaks. After A-peak it was again unbroken. Oddly, about half way down the trail into the notch we saw a tracked out trail from coming from the west, from up-hill. We were right on track, just spotted a blaze, and found this rather curious. No trail, a bushwhack, perhaps? We realized after a moment or two what we were seeing was someone, two or three people, who had come up the previously unbroken trail from the notch but lost the trail and ended up missing the summit (they were way too far to the north), then looping around to go down their same track. Backing up a moment, the steep sections on Wildcat Ridge Tr were snow covered and very little ice was exposed making them quite simple to negotiate. Moreover, the snowpack was very dense and stable, minus some rolling sunballs in the afternoon, yet soft enough even on wind-scoured spots to allow for firm traction. The most difficult section was a large dome-like scrubby area two bumps before the E-peak summit or so. The Carter-Moriah Tr, unfortunately for us, was also unbroken (though we could see that 19-Mile Brook Tr was well-packed all the way to the hut). We added two sets of snowshoe tracks so that should help the next hiker. We did note a minor squeeze-under blowdown or two on this trail; nothing too difficult. Carter-Dome Tr was also unbroken until we got to Zeta Pass. Finally, we could walk again! Even descending side-hill in that mortar-like snow was tough going. As indicated by the south end of 19-Mile Brook Tr, and the school group we saw leaving the hut, the north end was the same or better; it was packed out pretty hard. So much so, that it appeared by the tracks to support careful barebooters with ease. The ones that weren't careful, however, left in a couple of cases massive postholes. All of the crossings were all well-bridged and supportive. Plus there is still some access to collect water, mostly on the upper crossings.

Special Equipment Used: We used snowshoes from trailhead to trailhead. We brought crampons not being totally sure what to expect on Wildcat Ridge Tr, but they stayed in our packs. We could have probably barebooted the last couple of miles, but honestly it's just as easy to wear our snowshoes. We can move quickly and securely in them, and it beats carrying them. Trekking poles helped us with balance and in a couple of cases to better gain purchase.

Comments: Hiked this one with Bill Robichaud (brobichaud here on the VFTT). We had an amazing day. Pretty warm, quite calm, and very sunny. Tiring hike to say the least what with all the trail breaking and the snow's density, but it was good. Terrific exercise, now even stronger for the next hike. Great day, that much closer to making a single season W48 happen.

Mike "Tramper" Cherim
Nottingham NH
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