Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Perfect Day on Wildcats A and D

A check of the weather showed one more good day in the forecast before cold temps, rain and snow move in on Sunday. Today's forecast included temps in the 50's, blue sky and sunshine with no wind, perfect! I would be joining fellow hikers Larry and Jill for a hike across the Wildcats tagging 4,000 footers D and A in that order. Our hike would take us up the Polecat ski trail at Wildcat Mountain Ski Area across the Wildcat Ridge Trail and down the Nineteen Mile brook Trail for about a nine mile trek.

It was a cool morning with a clear blue sky as the sun was coming up on the Presidential summits on my drive toward Pinkham Notch. We all met at the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail parking lot then took one car up to the Wildcat Mountain Ski Area. It usually cost $10.00 to hike up but no one was around so we started up the Polecat Trail on our way to the summit.

The eastern face of the Presidentials were catching the morning sun while we were still in the shade of the mountain on Wildcat. It wasn't until about a third of the way up that the sun finally broke the summit and started to shine down upon us. We were in and out of the sun and shade all the way to the summit. It was not until almost near the top of the ski trail that we reached some snow and only because of the snowmaking efforts earlier in the week. This snow was hard-packed, crusty and slick. We put on our microspikes for the couple hundred yards to the summit where the snow ended.

We took a short break at the top of the chair lift. The sun was warm and there was no wind. The views were spectacular with not a cloud in the sky and the moon was over Mount Washington. The moon did not seem to move from where we saw it at the start of the hike. After our break we turned north onto the Wildcat Ridge Trail and went up to the observation tower. There were more great views from this platform. One friendly Gray Jay was waiting for us or more importantly counting on us for a handout of food and Jill provided the treat.

It was time to move on and we stepped down off the observation tower and continued north. The trail dropped down and thus began the seemingly endless PUDS or "pointless ups and downs". We went over summits C and B without ever knowing it. It was along here through an opening in the trees that we saw the moon set behind Mount Washington, a spectacular sight! We reached Wildcat A which is much more conspicuous. But the actual summit cairn is somewhat vague consisting of a few small rocks piled on top of each other at the end of an indistinct side path.

We had the summit outlook to ourselves with some beautiful views into Carter Notch and over to Carter Dome. It wasn't long before hikers started arriving and it got crowded very fast. Our break was over and we started down off of Wildcat A. It's a steep drop down to the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail. There was a few patches of ice that were easily avoidable and after a 0.7 mile descent we reached the trail junction.

It was 3.6 miles down to Route 16. The trail was clear of ice and snow but very wet and muddy. We met many hikers coming up to spend the night at Carter Notch Hut. After 9+ miles in just under 7 hours we completed our hike of the Wildcats.

Thanks Larry and Jill for a fun day of hiking with perfect weather. I've got the feeling that was the last day of clear trails and warm temps for quite some time. But I am looking forward to some great winter hiking!

Enjoy the pics!

 Peabody River and Mount Washington in the distance

 Mount Madison

 Mount Adams and Mount Madison

 View from the Polecat Trail on Wildcat Ski Area

 Sun is coming up

 Mount Washington

 Tuckerman Ravine

A view toward Berlin with fog in the valley

Snow guns have been busy up here

Microspikes were on for this slippery crusty snow

Reaching the top of the ski area

A view from the top of the chairlift

A view of Mount Washington from Wildcat

A view from the other side of Wildcat

Looking back from the Wildcat Ridge Trail

Southeast view from Wildcat A

Jill feeds a feathered friend on Wildcat D

Gray Jay waiting for a handout

A steep drop

Passing through big boulders across the Wildcat Ridge Trail

A view from the trail

Moon above the summit of Mount Washington

Moon dropping down

Moon above the observatory

Moon setting

Carter Notch Hut far below

Enjoying the view on Wildcat A

Larry on top of Wildcat A

Descending Wildcat A

Down at the 19 Mile Brook Trail parking lot after 9.1 miles

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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