The Wildcats, Carter Dome, Mtn Hight & the extra mile


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Jan 27, 2007
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Montreal, Qc, Canada
Last Saturday, the morning after a not so late gathering evening 9.9999999 around a firecamp with our friends from VFTT at the White Birches campground, five of us headed out for a hike over the Wildcats with Carter Dome & Mtn Hight as the piece de resistance. The morning weather over the Whites was for the mostpart fogged in by lazy clouds preferring to stay a few extra hours in the forest's bed sheets. Four of us DAKERS & young White Mtns at heart, Spence, Maddy, Bryan & myself, followed Freddy's lead from Glen Ellis Falls trailhead of NH16 to Lost Pond Trail junction & Wildcat Ridge Trail. Normally, I'll spend some time beforehand studying the course planned for any hike, but this time around I was very happy to be in the passenger's seat & follow Freddy's comeback to this particular hike after ten years. From early on in the day, Freddy's favorite conversation was all about the commanding views he was hoping we'd enjoy throughout our hike. Mount Hight's panomaric view was on the top of his list while from a peakbagging point of view like the rest of us, it was last on our list of the day. So we thought...Last Saturday was our second hike together as a group. The weekend before we hiked Cliff & Redfield in very wet conditions. Twelve hours of hiking in the rain is a test of trails on buddyship & sense of humour. We all passed with As.

The warm up approach to our first Wildcat peak was very brief as we stepped into cardio ascent mode rather quickly from the thailhead. I remember saying to Freddy the night before that after hiking the Presidential traverse a few weeks before, I felt the hiking in the Whites was easier then in the DAKs. Well, he was out to get me with the Wildcats ! After a couple of false peaks, Spence, Bryan & I were trying to figure out which of the E, D or C we were on. Well it so happened that we were on neither of them, just barely making the first official Wildcat peak. At least upon reaching the ski center's summit, we had a better idea. Although there are 5 official Wildcat peaks, it felt like we were hiking over their whole Italian big family:they kept adding unwelcomed guests.

As for the amazing views, the first one I remember was from the the official Wildcat Mtn looking over the Carter Notch lakes in the deep valley. Lunch was taken & enjoyed on this summit before we proceeded to hike down to Carter Lakes & hut. (Wildcats = (steep+up+down)x5) would be a good descriptive of this particular range of mtns. Once below at Carter Notch hut, we took a small tour of the site. Maddie decided to skip Carter Dome/Mt Hight & hiked back on 19 Mile Brook Trail to where the second car was parked on route NH16 near Glen House. Does anyone know why its called the 19 Mile Trail? B'cause if you do the math, it just doesn't add up to 19 miles...I'm curious to find out the story behind this unresolved equation trail name. Oh ya! even the brook that bears the same name doesn't add up to 19 miles.

On the bare rock peak of Mount High, we were granted with a "commanding & panoramic" outlook over several ranges of mtns. On the north side the whole Presidential range, short of Madison; easterly, a view over Mt Moriah, Shelburne & Howe Peak, then looking south we saw Baldface mountain range. We even got a good view over the town of Gorham !

Hiking back down by Zeta Pass was uneventhful until we reached Carter Dome Trail which links up to 19 Mile Brook Trail. Not the easy going Death March kind of trail. A steadily steep descent even with the many switchbacks, this trail gives no break to the tired legs. The trail bears resemblance to the "Snakes & Ladders" game board, but by this time into the hike, our legs didn't feel really excited about playing games. The Death March began at the junction of 19 Mile Bk Trail, when we were finally able to let go on cruise control mode.

The sign at the last trail junction posts 1.9 miles to the trailhead. Even at a fast pace, the miles in the White Mtns trails seem longer for some reason. On several occasions during our hike, we questioned the distance meter system & came up with the possibility that the measuring might be done in straight line... Not sure of course but felt like it. It's not a bad thing though if the miles are a little stretched out there, b'cause a longer trek in the mountains grants us with a littly more inner peace in our hearts, especially in the company of great friends: Maddie, Spence, Bryan & Freddy thank's for the amazing time in the Whites.

Here are my pics:
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