Sunday, January 6, 2013

Carters, no Dome 1/5/13

Working title: 3 year old handwarmers, you're my only friend

Peaks: Middle Carter, South Carter

Trails: Camp Dodge Cut-off, Imp Trail, North Carter Trail, Carter-Moriah Trail, Carter Dome Trail, Nineteen Mile Brook Trail

Mileage/time: ~10 miles, ~3700 feet of gain, book time of 6:50, actual time of 8:30

So it came to pass, the second hiking day of 2013. We had planned to do both Carters and Carter Dome, but sometimes, things rarely go to plan. Mike made a good observation when we were done, it being the 5th of January, and we'd climbed 5 peaks! 

We met up at Nineteen Mile Brook trailhead, being early, as is our penchant, we waited for our third to arrive. Crappy roads and a GPS with a mind of its own made it so Jes didn't arrive until just after 6:30. She got prepared and we all hopped into my buggy for a ride down the road. 6:55 and we were rolling up the driveway to Camp Dodge, closed for the winter, and "followed" the snowshoe track (when it wasn't drifted in) to its junction with the Imp Trail. Hanging a right, we followed the Imp upwards. There was a pretty well defined snowshoe track most of the way, as long as you didn't get off of it, though there are a couple sections of open woods where the track was drifted over. With a steady pace, and switching the lead a few times, we soon found ourselves at the North Carter Trail.

North Carter Trail was interesting today, with a partially drifted track to follow, and small spruce bending into the trail, under the weight of snow and ice. Add to that, gusty winds, and off and on snow, and you have a true winter experience. With fits and starts, we slowly made our way to the ridge. 

Once on Carter-Moriah Trail, trail breaking began, as the previous track was all but obliterated by new snow and raking winds. We found an area out of the wind, which we'd been at the mercy of the entire climb thus far, and took a break. The breaking continued to Middle Carter, but we did have some views along the way.

Pilot/Pliny Ranges from near Middle Carter

Evans Notch peaks from near Middle Carter

North Carter

Carter Dome, South Carter, and Wildcat A
As we crested Middle Carter, we were exposed to the full force of the northwest winds, and boy were they cold! Shortly after dropping off the summit, we took a short break. My hands had been getting cold since we reached the ridge, and now they were painfully so. I dug into my pack and brought out the pair of chemical handwarmers that I've been carrying since I started hiking again. Mentally crossing my fingers, I opened them up, shook them vigorously, and threw them in my gloves. Once we started moving again, I began to feel the warmth, it was a welcome relief, and improved my outlook on the rest of the day, which had been grim to that point. 

About halfway to South Carter, we ran into our first people of the day. I recognized one of them as Holly from the Meetup hike Mike and I did to the Kinsmans last week. Small world! She had just crossed South Carter off her winter list, and has only Lafayette, Lincoln, and Cannon to go! After that, we ran into another group of two, and were then passed by a group of four just before South Carter. No more breaking trail after that, making us happy to a point, because breaking trail in light fluff can be pretty fun. The summit of South Carter is really anti-climatic, just a piece of wood, screwed to a tree, in the middle of a bunch of trees. There was a nice little outlook that I went down, with views to the south and east.

Carter Dome

Baldfaces and Pleasant Mountain over the eastern shoulder of Carter Dome
We made our way down to Zeta Pass, and after a break, and some discussion, decided to call it a day. The sun had now come out, and the winds had been dying down all day. Along the way, we ran into one solo hiker on his way up. I questioned him, asking if he was the guy I'd seen posting on the internet about doing a PM only Grid (starting hikes after 12pm). He chuckled and said no, but that he had just started his Grid that day. Best of luck to you! Down, down, down, and soon enough, we popped back out at the parking lot. 

Holly was there, and Mike brought up the idea of her doing a Franconia Ridge traverse with us. She said she'd think about it, so we'll see what happens there. We drove back down to my car, where Jes had left a couple of things, and then parted ways. Mike had asked while we were still out if I wouldn't want to take a different way home, and hit up Yankee Smokehouse in Ossipee... I can't say no to smoked meats. A great dinner was had, and we took off. Thanks for a great hike you guys! Now it's time to see how much of a hurting adding Carter Dome to a Wildcats traverse will be!

Here's some pictures of the Presidentials wrapped in clouds from throughout the day.

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