A bit later than planned due to slippery road conditions for those driving up, we got underway on the 19-Mile Brook Trail, with a starting temperature at 8:20 of a goose egg (0F). The plan was to take this trail for 1.9 miles, then take the Carter Dome Trail all the way to Carter Dome (on the New Hampshire 4000-Footer List). Then we would reverse direction, possibly summit Mount Hight depending on the weather, before continuing on the Carter-Moriah Trail over South and Middle Carter, both on the New Hampshire 4000-Footer List. Out descent route would be the North Carter Trail, the South end of the Imp Loop, and then an old logging road that cuts through Camp Dodge, followed by a short (~3/10-mile) walk alongside Route 16. At any point, if needed, we would descend back to the car via the Carter Dome/19-Mile Brook Trail.
Most of us left the snowshoes in the car, based off of previous reports and the fact that it had only snowed ~2 inches the night before, and so we started in light traction. The climb up 19-Mile Brook Trail, and the Carter Dome Trail up to Zeta Pass went pretty quickly, and the snow depth on top of hard-packed trails was minimal. We were plenty warm, and the wind was barely heard or felt, even when we reached Zeta Pass. So far, so good.
|A brief break on the 19-Mile Brook Trail|
|Junction #1 of many for this hike - Carter Dome Trail straight ahead|
|Looks cold and windy on the Presidentials!|
|Approaching Zeta Pass, a short stretch of mildly-drifted snow|
|Snack time at Zeta Pass|
|Theresa almost to Carter Dome (the rocky point of Hight in the right background)|
|The summit area of Carter Dome|
|Theresa and Kyle on Carter Dome|
|Hight (L) and Carter Dome (R) from near South Carter|
|Wild River Valley|
|The Northern Presidentials|
It had never gotten warmer than -10F on the ridge (we measured between -12 to -10 every time we checked), but keeping moving, and layering properly meant we all completed the hike without much trouble. This was easily the longest cold hike I've done before (I'd hit -10F once or twice, but only on single peak days without a ridge walk), but it was good to experience it with plenty of opportunity to abort if it got uncomfortable. A great job by all, and congrats to all that got winter checkmarks, the cold way! Quickly changing a few pieces of gear, we headed into North Conway, where it was quieter than I've ever seen that town (and it was 5:30 in the evening at this point), but that meant we got seated and served very quickly. Mmmm, pizza and beer!
Route: 19-Mile Brook Trail, Carter Dome Trail (out-and-back to Carter Dome), Carter-Moriah Trail, North Carter Trail, Imp Loop (South loop), Camp Dodge Shortcut, Route 16
Peaks: Carter Dome (4832', NH4K), South Carter (4430', NH4K), Middle Carter (4610', NH4K)
Mileage: 13.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 4400ft
Book Time: 8hr 45min (actual 8hr 15min)
|Walking through Camp Dodge|