Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Carter Notch After the Refreeze

This past week saw unseasonably warm temperatures with heavy rain last night followed by very cold temperatures. I was anxious to check out the trail conditions and water levels. After a very late start I decided to hike up to the Carter Notch Hut and would not be hiking any summits today. Just wanted to get out on the trail and stretch the hiking legs.

The weather forecast called for cold temps and wind for today. I noticed that the various brooks and rivers that I passed on my drive to the trailhead were high and most of the ice and snow had been washed away. When I arrived at the Nineteen Mile Brook trailhead there was no available parking and I had to park on Route 16. The price I paid for getting a late start.

There was a cold wind blowing as I geared up and made my way to the trailhead. A group of ladies asked me to take their photo as I passed through the parking lot, they were going to the hut for the night. I put on my microspikes and they would stay on for the entire hike, it was the perfect traction for the day and the snowshoes stayed in the car.

The trail was in great shape, well-packed and smooth. The cold temps had done a good job at stabilizing a solid monorail after the warm temps and rain of last week. As I was making my way up the trail I saw a familiar hiker up ahead, in batman pants, coming down. It was fellow hiker Renee, met her two weeks ago on Wildcat D. She had been hiking to Carter Dome when she broke through a snow bridge into fast flowing water getting wet to the knee. She decided to hike Carter Dome another day and turned around.

The trail to the top of Carter Notch continued to be in great shape with the exception of the occasional washed out snow bridge that could easily be crossed. As I made my way down to the larger Carter Lake I was video recording as I went. I stepped out onto the lake and was going to walk around the edge until I heard the ice cracking beneath my feet. I quickly got off the lake and continued along the trail until I reached the Carter Notch Hut.

I opened the door to the hut and stepped inside, it was warm and toasty from the wood stove. I took off my outer layer and sat down to eat by the stove, it felt great. I had a pleasant conversation with Brian, the hut caretaker. He told me the notch received three feet of snow over the past couple of weeks and lost twenty inches in the past week.

After lunch I put on a dry outer layer and stepped outside to begin my descent. That warm hut spoiled me and it felt very cold as I started my hike down. I met many hikers coming up. It was a quick trip back to the trailhead.

While I was a little disappointed that I did not have time to summit Wildcat A it was still nice to get out on the trail today. I was able to get a first hand look at the trail conditions and water levels which appeared to have gone down. There is still three more weekends to hike a few more winter summits although winter conditions will probably remain long after that.

Enjoy the photos!

 Driving by the flooded Upper Ammonoosuc River on the way to the hike 

 Checking out the Peabody River before getting to the trailhead

Snow-capped rock on the Nineteen Mile Brook

Unstable snow bridge on the trail

Lots of water flowing

Monorail on a bridge

Water flow has opened up this small brook

Met Renee on the trail...again!

Collapsed snow bridge

Wet opening in the trail

Monorail is shrinking on this bridge

Water flowing over the dam

Water flow on a ledge seen through this opening 

Another collapsed snow bridge

Icicles along the trail

Carter Dome Trail junction

Convenient bridge over water crossing

Another bridged water crossing

Cliffs on Wildcat A

Wildcat Ridge Trail junction

Carter Lake

Carter-Moriah Trail junction

Wildcat A above Carter Lake

Zooming up to the summit of Wildcat A

This looked like an icy creature emerging from the water

Trail is close to an icy drop 

Back at the trailhead

Upper Ammonoosuc River still flooding as I arrive home

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!


  1. Thanks! I'm thinking of a similar hike Sat. Mar. 11 with my 20-something daughter, perhaps going partway up Carter Dome (but never up a pitch that isn't easily traversed in reverse)

  2. Hope you had a safe and enjoyable sure was a frigid Saturday!!