Carter Range
Groovy, Solo, Two-day Hike
2012 Mar 16-17
Fred's Home

Here's a trip report for a 2-day hike to four peaks in the Carter Range. This page has it all: panoramas, movies, topo map, a monologue, and photos. Browse!


Sunny Saturday: Panoramic 150-degree view Cabot (hardly visible above clouds) to Presidentials (r to l: Mt Adams: Mt Madison, Mt. Jefferson, Mt Washington) to Carter Dome.
Click once to get full field; click again to get higher resolution and pan across image.
Panorama


Rainy Friday: Panoramic view from Wildcat north over the Carter Range (r to l: Carter Dome, Hight (mostly hidden), Zeta Pass, South Carter, Middle Carter).
Click once to get full field; click again to get higher resolution and pan across image.
Panorama Note: constructed with Steve Smith's method in Photoshop: Photoshop>File>Automate>PhotoMerge... Auto, Blend, Vignette Removal, Geometric Distortion Correction.


Three groovy movies:

all big (~70MB) but viewable singly or together. Click the link to get a preview. Then WAIT to load.

I needed all four peaks in the Wildcat-Carter range for my 4000' peakbagging quest: Wildcat #39, Carter Dome #40, South Carter#41, and Middle Carter #42. Actually I thought I wouldn't get #42, but Saturday was great. I decided to take Friday off, endure the fog and damp, camp for the night, and come back on Saturday when the temperature was supposed to skyrocket to the 50s.

As usual, I got going early and made it to the Nineteen Mile Brook Trailhead by 8:50. With final prep taking a half-hour, I was greeted by a youngster coming off the trail. He turned out to be the Carter Notch Hut caretaker, wearing microspikes and slicker and heading for a meeting! He said the lower trail was icy and well trodden above. I headed for Wildcat, my first peak, and made it to the cutoff to the Wildcat Ridge Trail in about 2 hours. I changed from microspikes to crampons due to the steepness (900' in 0.7 miles). There were a few post holes, but snowshoes would have been harder. See the view (above) between cloud layers from the upper slopes.

Coming back down Wildcat took about the same amount of time as going up, and I picked up my pack and headed toward the Carter Notch Hut, past the lake and only 0.3 miles. The Hut is open year round. I stopped a few minutes to refill my water. Then I headed up toward Carter Dome, which turned out to be a very grueling 1.2 miles. It took over two hours; I was pooped, but I still wanted to another 0.8 miles to the Zeta Pass area to camp.map

The night was interesting. After snowshoing up into a secluded and elevated area, I built a snow bed per the illustrated instructions below. The 13-hour sleep started with darkness. The only interruptions were a couple of calls of nature. The new sleeping bag nest worked well, especially wearing my down parka as the top of the inner bag. It keeps my neck and head warm and allows easy turns from side to side. I built a slight snow mound for my headrest---worked great. The only difficulties were 1) my outer bag left me a bit cool in the middle (still okay to get 7 uninterrupted hours of sleep---just a little cool) and 2) the open side of the tarp letting in wind. I lowered the flap at 9pm. Worked better.

The morning dawned clear. No cooking; I ate cheese, cookies, and egg burrito in the cozy bed. Up at 6:50, I got going at 7:40, after packing everything. I dropped my pack at the nearby intersection and headed for South Carter with only snowshoes, poles, camera, and energy from the restful night. Getting there in 30 minutes and feeling great, I continued to Middle Carter. Great views from the ridge; see above. The RT back to the Carter Ridge/Carter Dome intersection at Zeta Pass took 2.5 hours. I saw a few people and then started down the 3.8 miles back to the trailhead. 50 deg at the base.

Summary: 15 miles, 4 peaks (Wildcat #39, Carter Dome #40, South Carter#41, and Middle Carter #42) lots of elevation gain, 12 hours of hiking.

--Fred (aka tarpman)
previous next Fred's Home 11 images
Carter Dome from Wildcat
Carter Dome from Wildcat
Clouds below; clouds above. Stupendous!
Outside Carter Notch Hut
Outside Carter Notch Hut
After meeting guests staying at the hut, heading for Carter Dome (up!), which took a couple hours to go 1.2 miles. Pooped at the end of the dayYikes!
Camp Construction #1
Camp Construction #1
Dug 1' deep with snowshoe (off foot) and tamped with other snowshoe (on foot).
Camp Construction #2
Camp Construction #2
Tarp and mattress in place.
Camp Construction #3
Camp Construction #3
Outer bag in place; tarp overhead . Due to wind at night, I lowered the open side to keep warmer air inside. However, the tarp condensation after 7 hours of uniterrupted sleep produced lots of moisture.
Camp Construction #4
Camp Construction #4
Full nest in place. Ready for sleeping.
Camp Construction #5
Camp Construction #5
View from the front.
Camp Construction #6
Camp Construction #6
Trekking pole prop to raise the roof and avoid condensation on outer bag
What a day!  Clouds below; Presidentials; blue sky above.
What a day! Clouds below; Presidentials; blue sky above.
From ridge returning from Middle Carter, I met a couple, who snapped a couple pics for me.
Clouds obscure northern view
Clouds obscure northern view
The air was cool, just perfect hiking.
Nearing home.
Nearing home.
The icy stream will stay for awhile, but air temperature was approaching 50.