Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

April Conditions on a Hike to Carter Dome

After not hiking this past weekend I decided to take a day off during the week for a hike to Carter Dome (4,832'). I would be joining fellow hikers Larry and Jill. Our route would take us up the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail to the Carter Dome Trail and onto the Carter-Moriah Trail to the summit of Carter Dome. We planned on taking the same trails back down being concerned that the steep side of Carter Dome going down to Carter Notch would be icy and difficult.

The weather report called for a cloudy and cool day. This forecast would hopefully keep the monorail solid and firm on the trails and prevent postholing in the deeper snow. I was expecting a variety of conditions and I wouldn't be disappointed. The other concern was the couple of water crossings that might be a problem. We met at the Nineteen Mile Brook trailhead parking area. Just after 8:00 AM we were on our way.

I brought all of my traction. The snowshoes and crampons were on my pack. The microspikes were in my hand as we started out barebooting, I knew that I would be putting them on soon. The trail began wet, muddy and a little snow. As we got into the snow we all put on micropsikes. We soon found out that maybe it was a little too soon for traction as we were tramping over bare ground, rocks, mud and water but we kept them on and continued.

When we turned onto the Carter Dome Trail the snow was more consistent. There was a very narrow monorail in places. Water could be heard running under the trail and it was undermining the snow causing the occasional posthole. Snowshoes would have been very difficult to use. There was also a couple of water crossings to navigate. The first one was small and had a log in the water that made it fairly easy to cross. The second crossing presented a choice, walking through the water or crossing a suspended log. Larry and Jill walked through the water and I chose the log crossing.

We saw our first two hikers of the day when we arrived at Zeta Pass. After a short break we continued along the Carter Dome Trail. With the low cloud cover over the high summits, limited views and unbroken trail to Mount Hight we decided to bypass this summit today. There was a lot of snow up here but it was cold enough to keep the trail firm and solid. There was only the occasional posthole.

Once on the summit we saw several more hikers arrive. There was also one lone gray jay looking for a snack. There are no views but we took some summit photos and then began our descent, it was all downhill from here. We kept up a good pace on the way down and made a brief stop at Zeta Pass. We then continued down the Carter Dome Trail that took us back across the two water crossings successfully making our way over and through the water.

Arriving at the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail junction we thought about removing the microspikes but kept them on for just a while longer. When it got to the point where there was more bare trail, rocks, mud and water than snow cover the microspikes came off for the remainder of the hike. We arrived back at the parking lot to clearing skies and warm temps.

Trail conditions are changing daily. With continued warm weather and rain in the forecast there will be bare trails down low but still a lot of snow in the higher elevations. Snowshoes will be required to get through soft, deep snow. I'm looking forward to carrying a lighter pack and leaving the traction behind. Thanks to Jill and Larry for another fun and enjoyable hike!

Enjoy the photos!

 Lots of water flowing down the Peabody River

 The hike starts here

 Nineteen Mile Brook

Nice water flow

Very little snow along this section of the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail

A section of bare ground

Mushroom poking out from a tree

 Carter Dome Trail junction

 Narrow monorail

Small snow arch

Larry has no problem on the first water crossing

 I preferred this convenient log for crossing the water

 Larry bypasses the log and walks across the water

 Up over the snow bank

 Jill follows Larry across the water

 Icy branches above a rushing brook

 A view of Hillman's Highway and Tuckerman Ravine

Several layers of snow seen here on this section of trail

 New signs

 A tree full of Old Man's Beard

 Lots of snow on the higher elevations

 Signs are buried

 Black Angel Trail is unbroken

 Trees are frosted with rime ice

 The high summits are cloaked in clouds

Snow is gone in the valley far below

 Deep posthole

Getting closer to the summit

 Gray Jay waiting for a snack

Gray Jay snacking

 At the Carter Dome summit signs

 Hillman's Highway

 Tuckerman Ravine

 Mount Madison

 Zeta Pass

 Over and under blowdowns

 Snow-capped mushroom

 Back at the water crossing

 Jill slides down into the water as Larry waits his turn

 Jill crosses the water and Larry follows

The final water crossing for today

A successful water crossing and everyone was dry

 Downy woodpecker

Back at the trailhead

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!


  1. Another fine write up with good photos, Don, thanks.

    1. Thank you, glad you enjoyed it!