Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Breaking Trail on the Carters

The last weekend of October and the chance to hike a few more summits for this month. With recent snow it was going to be a hike up into winter. A loop hike of Middle Carter (4,610') and North Carter (4,430') seemed to be a good choice with possibly a side trip to Mount Hight dependent on the conditions. I would be joining fellow hikers Brian and Jill for this hike. Starting at the Nineteen Mile Brook trailhead parking lot we would road walk to Dodge Camp then up to the Imp Trail to North Carter Trail then across the Carter-Moriah Trail over Middle Carter then South Carter down to Zeta Pass continuing on the Carter Dome Trail to the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail back to the trailhead parking lot to complete the loop.

The weather was cloudy and cold to start but was supposed to improve over the course of the day. We met in the parking lot at 7:30, geared up and headed north on Route 16. Jill was ready for the day with her Halloween hat and a bag full of candy for any trick-or-treaters along the trail. We turned onto the road for Dodge Camp. The gate was locked and although there was one car parked in there it looked completely deserted and was boarded up for winter. We took the short path to Imp Trail and turned right to start our ascent. There was no snow at this point and it was not until about halfway up until we started seeing any.

At the North Carter Trail junction Brian and I put on our snowshoes, Jill put on her microspikes. There were no other hikers before us so we would be breaking trail. The snow kept getting deeper the higher we went. Jill gave in and put on her snowshoes. We took turns breaking through the new snow but it was still exhausting. After 1.2 miles of trail breaking with Brian in the lead we reached the Carter-Moriah Trail. The trail breaking would continue as no one else had been across here yet.

Jill took the lead as we started across the Carter-Moriah ridgeline. Another 0.6 mile and we were on the summit of Middle Carter. The cloud cover prevented any views from the outlook so we continued on. It was somewhere between Middle and South Carters that we came upon a spectacular view. The Presidential summits were coming into view through the moving clouds. The wind was blowing the clouds around and it was a constantly changing view. This was the spot of the day and there were many photos and videos taken.

Our next summit was waiting and we were soon on our way. It was more trail breaking and we still had not met any other hikers. We got to the summit of South Carter and took a short break to eat lunch. From here it was all downhill and while it wasn't quite as strenuous as going uphill it was still tiresome trudging through the unbroken snow.

Down at Zeta Pass we found some footprints in the snow from someone barebooting. We all agreed to pass on hiking to Mount Hight today and continued our descent down the Carter Dome Trail. About halfway down we changed traction from snowshoes to microspikes. As the snow continued to diminish we were able to remove the traction as the trail eventually cleared enough for barebooting. The snow was completely gone when we reached the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail. It was a fast pace back to the trailhead parking lot. We saw no other hikers or trick-or-treaters during the entire hike which is very unusual on these popular trails.

I found this to be a very strenuous but rewarding hike. It tested the stamina, endurance and determination in each of us to successfully complete the loop on unbroken snowy trails over these summits. I can honestly say that I would not have been able to complete this hike without Brian and Jill. Today's hike was a team effort. The spectacular views we got from the Carter-Moriah Trail were worth the effort. It was a great snowshoe warm-up for the upcoming winter season!

Enjoy the photos!

 Cowboy Brook

 Passing through Dodge Camp

 Starting to see some snow on the Imp Trail

 "Jabba the Hutt" mushroom

 North Carter Trail junction and my snowshoes go on

 Spider with cold legs moving very slow

 Trees still bent over onto the trail from the recent heavy snow

 Brian in snowshoes and Jill with microspikes

 A big step up

 We're all in snowshoes on the North Carter Trail

 Jill breaking trail on the Carter-Moriah Trail

 I'm in the trail breaking lead

 It's important not to stray off the bog bridge

Staying on the snow covered bridges through a slushy bog

 Clinging snow

Clouds starting to lift

No view

 Sky is clearing as we come to THE view of the day from the Carter-Moriah Trail

 Mount Washington and moving clouds below

 Summit of Mount Washington

 Mount Adams

 Mount Madison

 Looking back from where we came

 Brian ascending a tricky steep ledge with snowshoes on

Brian breaking through a steep section of trail

More up

 An illuminating water droplet

 A forest full of Old-Man's Beard lichen

Mount Adams through the trees

On the summit of South Carter

 Jill came dressed for the season with her Halloween hat

 Mount Hight

 Zooming in on the Mount Hight summit


Jill dashing ahead while Brian pauses

Snowshoeing through a water crossing

We all make it safely across

Water flow is looking almost normal after drought conditions

Some sort of leafy growth on this tree

Good water flow on this brook

1.9 miles to complete the loop

No more snow on the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail

Brian likes the new bridge

The loop is complete

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

No comments:

Post a Comment