Middle/South Carter Take Two: Success!
Friday I hiked South Carter again with Middle Carter added in this time! I learned my lesson from Wednesday when we ran out of daylight to tag Middle Carter. I went my friend Todd and we ended up starting about an hour earlier than the previous hike. We also hustled the whole time and didn't take any long breaks, ending in us finishing the hike around 2:30. It also helped that we did the loop with Imp trail to Nineteen Mile Brook trail instead of out and back. This meant that we would only have to go over each mountain once, decreasing the total amount of elevation we had to gain.
With an early morning start and car spot at Nineteen Mile Brook, my friend and I got on the trail at Camp Dodge around 7:15. The Camp Dodge cutoff decreases the mileage on the southern portion of Imp trail by about 0.5 miles, and cuts off about a mile of the road walk between the Imp and Nineteen Mile Brook trailheads. This makes it a popular cut through especially in the winter when daylight is shorter and it's slower going. I was a little nervous since I hadn't used this shortcut before, and I had never been on Imp tr so I had no familiarity with it. That being said I was confident it would work out because of the descriptions I had seen in public forums and pictures I had looked at.
I was relieved when the Camp Dodge cutoff met the well blazed Imp trail and we started our ascent. With the fresh snow from Wednesday night, we were the first hikers to be on the trail in the light, fluffy powder. Fresh moose tracks crossed the trail a few times seeming to be only minutes old, but unfortunately we didn't see the animal that left them. There were only a couple of inches of new snow, but we put on our snowshoes pretty early on to avoid postholing (leaving deep, dangerous holes in the snow that others could trip in)
I hustled to keep up with my hiking buddy as we ascended Imp trail and eventually made it to North Carter trail at 9:00. This is when the going started to get tough. North Carter tr was very overgrown with branches blocking the path most of the way. I took a turn in front breaking out the trail, so it was exhausting work trying to stay upright in the snow while dodging and weaving my way through the evergreens. On top of that there were some pretty nasty postholes from someone a few days before that had been disguised in the powder, making for a surprising hole every few feet. We did our best to even them out but it was hard not being able to see them well. It was pretty slow going in some spots but after an hour and a half we made it to Carter-Moriah trail, a part of the Appalachian Trail.
From here we had a somewhat steep ascent to the summit of middle Carter, but the views took our minds off the difficulty of the hike. To the west we could see the presidentials, the only mountains in the clouds on this otherwise clear day. To the south the sky had an almost orange hue mimicking a sunset, which was fascinating since it was 11am. It was a little chillier up there, but the wind was tame so it was actually kind of nice to cool us down after the climb up. The temperature had stayed at a balmy 20 degrees for most of the day so far, surprising me with the warmth of the sun and leaving me wishing I had a lighter layer to prevent me from sweating.
Between Middle and South Carter we saw the first other person we had seen all day. This man had been struggling a little bit to break out the trail with no real path to follow. It was nice to say hi to him but we kept moving because we didn't have any time to waste. After we reached the summit and lookout on South Carter, we stopped for another quick snack and then kept on moving. There were some tracks going in different directions, and we actually ended up missing the junction of Zeta Pass and Carter Dome trail, coming out on Carter Dome instead.
As we descended it was tough trying to traverse across the mountain on the switchbacks. The trail was so narrow and the powder was giving way underneath us so trying to go across was difficult. On top of that our feet were made so much wider with our snowshoes that it was hard to keep from slipping off the trail and down the steep slope of the mountain. We were both relieved when we got to more solid ground.
The rest of the hike out Carter Dome tr and Nineteen Mile Brook was fairly uneventful. It was still beautiful outside and we saw lots of people headed to Mt. Hight and Carter Notch Hut. This part of the trail is pretty flat but really nice following the brook. I was having deja vu to when I was here two days before, and realized that all of my past three hikes in the white mountains had included Nineteen Mile Brook and Carter Dome trails. Although this was another great hike, I think that I'm in need of a break from the Carters for a little while!
Now that I've finished 45/48 of my NH 4,000 footers, I'm getting really excited for the big finish! The last three are Wildcat A, D, and Mt. Moriah, so hopefully I'll be able to do some more hiking soon and finish up in the next few weeks. Another fun hike to add to the memories that I've made in these mountains.
#45 Middle Carter (4,610 ft) and South Carter (4,419 ft) Mountains via. Camp Dodge Cutoff, Imp Tr, North Carter Tr, Carter-Moriah Tr, Carter Dome Tr, and Nineteen Mile Brook Tr [10.6 mi, 3800 ft, 7:17].
Check out my Instagram @lexi.brocoum for more pictures!