Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Breaking In Boots in Carter Notch

My initial hiking plan for today was Whiteface and Passaconaway.  I woke up early to an overcast sky and a howling wind. Not knowing the current trail conditions I decided to wait on a better day for this hike.  My backup plan was to break in my new Garmont Momentum Snow Gore-Tex Hiking Boots.  I thought a trip up to Carter Notch would do the trick. Depending on how the boots felt would determine if I kept going up to Wildcat A (4422') or just head down to the Carter Notch Hut.

I pulled into the Nineteen-Mile Brook trailhead at 10:30 am., a very late start for me. The parking lot was almost full but I managed to squeeze into a spot and did not have to park on the side of the road. It was cold but no wind. I layered up and put on the new hiking boots, they actually felt comfortable except for being stiff in the upper part of the boot.

There was a thin cover of snow as I started up the Nineteen-Mile Brook Trail. All the wooden bridges I crossed along the trail were covered with snow and ice. I took it slow and easy on the narrow log bridges. As I climbed higher there was a slight increase in the amount of snow but there was not more than two or three inches at the most.

I reached the trail junction for Wildcat A and the upper part of the boots were really biting into my lower legs. I made the decision to just go down to the hut and forego this 4,000 footer having already hiked it on a warm summer day in comfortable boots. The Carter Lakes were frozen so apparently winter temps have been here for some time now. The larger lake is competely frozen but the middle has a very thin layer of ice. The smaller lake looks like it can be walked on but I didn't try.

There was one other hiker at the hut when I got there then three more walked in. The outside temp was 30 degrees and it didn't feel much warmer inside. Wind speed was 10 mph but felt calm to me. There was a sign under the gauges, "THESE INSTRUMENTS ARE NOT ACCURATE" but I think they are close.

The hut makes a nice, relaxing spot to eat lunch. It was also time to take care of my sore right leg due to the stiff upper portion of my new hiking boots. I took some moleskin and applied it to the affected area hoping this would add some cushioning. I was also going to try not lacing the boot all the way up. It was time to make my descent and the "fun" was about to begin.

I shot some video as I made my way along the trail between the Carter Lakes. The boots were already hurting and I had four miles to go. It seems ascending was less painful than descending and the short ascent past the lakes wasn't too bad. As I started the descent past the Wildcat A trailhead the real pain started. There was one spot on my right leg that the boot was really digging into. The moleskin was quickly ineffective as it peeled off and moved to a different spot seemingly to get away from the pain the boot was causing. If it had been one degree warmer I would have gone down in socks only.

It was a long, slow hike back to the parking lot with every step being painful. I broke my on rule when buying these boots and that is "stick with what works". I have a three season boot and a winter boot that never needed "breaking in" but these Garmont boots looked like what I was looking for in a new winter boot. After a little cleanup I'll be packing them up and returning them to the Sierra Trading Post, lesson learned. Other than that it was a great day for a hike!

Winter has started in Carter Notch

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