Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, January 2, 2016

A Winter Day on Wildcat A

After the first snowstorm of the season this past week I was anxious to get out on the trail. There was not a siginificant amount of snow but several inches to start building a base for future snowstorms to build on. I have a new pair of winter hiking boots and wanted to try them out on a break-in hike. I also wanted to try out my new toy, a Garmin eTrex Touch 25 GPS. The forecast called for cold temps, wind and snow showers. I decided to hike Wildcat A (4,422') via Nineteen Mile Brook Trail and up Wildcat Ridge Trail.

 Trailhead...didn't notice the sign and trail had moved

 Nineteen Mile Brook

 New bridge

 Nineteen Mile Brook dam

An early morning start meant a place to park in the parking lot and not on Route 16. I've hiked the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail many times but I must have been half asleep when I approached the trailhead this morning. I didn't notice that the trail had been rerouted and the trail sign and kiosk had been moved. It wasn't until I finished my hike that I noticed this. Of course I did notice the new bridge and trail rerouting further up the trail.

Carter Dome Trail junction

The trail was well packed and it would've been possible to have not used traction for the entire hike. But at the Carter Dome Trail junction I put on my microspikes to improve my pace as well as a little added security from any hidden ice under the snow. The new winter boots were feeling great, my feet were very warm and comfortable.

Moon setting behind the Wildcats

As I got further up the trail I could hear the wind blowing through the tops of the trees. When I reached the Wildcat Ridge Trail junction I put on my soft shell jacket anticipating an increase in wind exposure. I didn't have to wait long. As I crossed the slide the wind was howling through here. There were no problems going across the slide and I moved quickly up into the woods where there was some protection from the wind.

View from Wildcat A slide

The further I climbed the less wind there was. As the trail turned to the south there was nothing more than a slight breeze and that continued all the way to the summit. I had been following two sets of footprints from a couple of hikers that left the parking lot just before me but I never saw them again. When I got to the vista on the top of Wildcat A I had the place to myself. The temperature was 16°F so it was cold but not frigid with snow flurries in the air. I stayed long enough to take some photos and a panoramic video. Just as I started my descent another hiker arrived.

Wildcat A vista

A view toward Carter Dome

Carter Notch Hut far below

It was a quick trip down the Wildcat Ridge Trail and I was back into the wind again. Not until I got further down the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail did the wind die down. There were many hikers on their way up, a late start to the hiking day so I assumed some would be staying at the Carter Notch Hut. I checked my Garmin GPS when I reached the Carter Dome Trail junction. As expected from checking the device a while back and it indicated low batteries, the batteries were now dead. So lesson learned, start with fresh batteries, especially if it's cold.

Enjoying the view from Wildcat A

Just before arriving back at the parking lot I noticed the trail seemed different, and it was. This is when I realized the trail had been rerouted. So much for paying attention to details when I started my hike early this morning. I must have been on autopilot. The early arrival at the trailhead paid off because as I thought, from the number of hikers I saw, the parking lot was full and cars were parked along Route 16.

Wildcat A summit

Carter Dome

The new winter boots performed well with the exception of one small area over the right ankle where the boot bends. I'll make some lacing adjustments and maybe a piece of moleskin for the next couple of hikes but the comfort and warmth outweighed this minor irritation. The GPS will be a continuing lesson but I'll keep working at it until I become proficient in its use. I look forward to reviewing the stats at the end of my hikes.

Wildcat A cliffs

This was my fourth hike to Wildcat A. It was a great winter hike but will be even better with another foot or more of snow on the trail. For now the snowshoes can stay behind but the microspikes will be packed on every hike for the rest of the winter. It's still early in the winter season and I expect we'll get our fair share of snow in the near future.

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!


  1. Great job on the blog. I have to laugh when you said it was 16 degrees and not frigid. This morning I went to the shower room long pants and a hoodie and the temp was 68! What a whimp I am here in KW, Fl

    1. Thanks Lucien! Sounds like you're getting soft and spoiled down there, nothing wrong with's the reason one goes down to Key West in the winter!