Thursday, January 15, 2015

Hike on 12/13/14 to #15 off Route 16

Peaks: Carter Dome (4832', NH4K), South Carter (4430', NH4K), Middle Carter (4610', NH4K)
Route: 19-Mile Brook Trail, Carter Dome Trail, Carter-Moriah trail, North Carter Trail, Imp Trail (South), Camp Dodge Shortcut, Roadwalk
Mileage: 13.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 4400'
Book Time: 8hr 45min (actual 8hr 20min)

Around 1.5 years ago, a series of hikes were posted on the Random Group of Hikers Meetup Group that were along the lines of "11 mile hike to #11 on 11/11/11", "Hike to #12 on 12/12/12", and so on. One of those was for a hike on 12/13/14 to #15 (Middle Carter). I rarely hike with this group, preferring to lead my own hikes with the Northeast Peakbaggers, but I signed up for the waiting list for that one since it was a weekend hike and thus I had a chance to make it. As the day approached, I still could make it, and made it onto the actual hike, and so off I was for my 3rd hike of the 3 Carters on the 4000-footer list in 2014!

While waiting in the parking lot, I saw Rachel and Isis arrive and begin gearing up (well, Isis stayed in the nice warm car while Rachel warmed up). I last ran into them nearly a year before, on a hike to Mount Cabot, and it was great to say high again to the both of them. They were off to the Wildcats, though we would run into them a little while later at the Carter Dome Trail junction. I also had a chance to say a quick hi to the group organizer for the northeast Peakbaggers, Allison, who was off with a group to Pinkham Notch to climb the Wildcats from the hard direction! Once everyone for our group arrived, we put on the snowshoes (there was already a nice snowpack in the mountains, such a change from the last 2 Decembers!), and set off, our merry group of 8. This was my first hike on new snowshoes, the Tubbs Flex Alp, since my MSR Lightning Ascents had suffered a broken crampon/binding the week before on Garfield. So far, so good with the new shoes!

Off we go!

19-Mile brook Trail cloaked in early-winter finery

At the Carter Dome junction, turn here guys, don't go the way you were going!
After wading through the minefield of postholes on the 19-Mile Brook Trail (people just don't seem to comprehend that snowshoes are the way to go at least until the trail is firmly packed out), we turned off onto the lightly-broken (but largely posthole-free) Carter Dome Trail. As we climbed gradually toward Zeta Pass, it became increasingly clear that the skies would not be remotely clear today, and that views were going to be hard to come by. Still, it was a fun group, and after a fairly quick jaunt from Zeta Pass over to Carter Dome and back, we continued North on the Carter-Moriah Trail, barely pausing at the 2 wooded peaks of South and Middle Carter (there are some limited view points near both of these peaks). It was amazing to note in places that the snow depth was already on the order of 4 feet, this early in the winter season (in fact, winter was officially a week away yet!).

One of the few peeks of blue sky we had on the ascent

Ascending the Carter Dome Trail

The snow is so deep, the branches that are usually overhead were at our waist and sometimes lower!

On Carter Dome
The rest of the trip down went fairly smoothly. The Imp Trail is one of my least favorite trails, as it is rocky, rough in footing, and often wet even in winter. But this time around, aside from a few wet spots that needed some care to get around, the trail was in fabulous shape thanks to a couple feet of snow burying all the rocks! We made good time down to the old logging road that leads into Camp Dodge, reaching that point right at dark. Headlamps on for the final short jaunt out to Route 16 through the camp, we took off the snowshoes, walked the short way down the road to our cars, and took off for dinner in town! It was at dinner that we realized that not only was this hike on 12/13/14 to #15, but it was off of Route 16!

Descending the ledge near Middle Carter

The lower portion of the Imp Trail

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