|The Presidentials from the Lost Pond Trailhead|
This was the Wildcats. Joined up with Sue and Earl from VFTT (do they really need an intro here?) for this one. The plan was to hike a traverse from Pinkham to 19-Mile Brook. In total there were 6 of us on this day, and a fast trip was NOT in the cards.
After the snow/rain/sleet from Thursday/Friday (the tail end of which I drove up through Friday night...), there was a "lovely" crust on top of crappy snow. Snowshoes went on almost immediately after leaving the road on Lost Pond Trail, and they stayed on until the lot at 19 Mile Brook. I had never been on this section of the Wildcat Ridge Trail, and let me say that it lives up to it's billing as one of the steepest trails in the Whites. It is rated at 1.9 miles and 2150ft, but what that doesn't tell you is that there is a fairly moderate section in between 2 VERY steep sections.
We bushwhacked around the first ledge, as it was narrow, had a nasty sheer drop-off next to it, snow drifted over it at a 50-60 degree angle, and likely an inch of ice under. Also nothing to hold onto. The bushwhack was a unanimous decision and took us 20 yards to the right of it up and around. No problems aside from being steep. The remaining ledges were okay, but took a lot of work.
The climb was SLOW. The trail was not broken out at all, and was pretty crumbly so even with good kick steps, you tended to slide backwards a lot. There were some very nice views from the ledges going up, however, and we took our time to get safely up to E peak. We were at the chairlift between E and D at 12:20, roughly 4 hours after leaving the Pinkham Visitor Center.
|South from one of the ledges|
The traverse along the ridge went better as there was some broken out sections, but snowshoes were still very much needed. Some barebooters were punching a LOT of holes along the trail... We eventually reached A peak, took some pictures and looked into the notch, then cruised down to the 19 Mile Brook Trail. Sue set an aggressive pace out (especially after the trip we'd had so far...) and we reached the cars right around 5PM.
|View nearly straight down 1000 feet to Carter Notch Hut from the summit overlook at Wildcat A|
|Carter Dome across Carter Notch from Wildcat A|
This was the first real test of my Lightning Ascent snowshoes, and boy were they terrific. Their grip is just amazing! In fact, 3 of the 6 in our group had LA shoes, and 2 of the remaining 3 had MSR's as well. I got to learn kick-stepping...very helpful getting up those snow-covered steep sections!
|Note the pitches in the first 2 miles...|
Thanks to Sue and Earl for letting me come along, and to Mike, Fitz, and Dave (I think I got those names right) too. It was a fun day, but not one I'm looking to repeat immediately It was a good challenge though, and while I'm glad it is over, I'm glad I did it! I was battling a sore right hip most of the day, not sure what that was about...