Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Carter Notch Winter Hut Hike

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Never underestimate winter trail conditions in the White Mountains

I figured 3.8 miles was going to be an easy winter stroll even pulling a pulk sled full of overnight gear but getting to the hut in winter is very different from summer regardless of the mileage. Early morning trail conditions from AMC reported 12" of new snow accumulation so instead of bare booting we snowshoe for 3.8 miles. My brother took the lead, I in the middle and my dad in the rear as we marched up the mountain in unison. It was a cold overcast day with grey clouds twirling about the sky, white snowflakes floated down from the treetops almost like ash from a fire. We took our time enjoying the peaceful surroundings and began peeling off layers like onions as our bodies warmed from exertion. We finally reached the Hut at 1P.M., enjoyed some lunch and tea, then I determined to bag a couple peaks set out the door for Wildcat A. Found Wildcat Ridge Trail but I couldn't make heads or tails of the untouched trail, breaking trail I made it through the brush a few yards and decided to turn around and try my luck on Carter Dome Trail. Crossed back over the two small Carter Lakes and made my ascension up to Cater Dome this turned out to be a painfully slow process of snowshoeing a few feet and sliding back down on the snow, seriously the whole trail was covered in about 3 foot snow drifts, I got schooled on this trail I was getting frustrated and nowhere, I managed to get about half-way up and decided it wasn't worth the effort. I noticed the clouds moving in so I turned back but still it was a hard decision I was looking forward to that magnificent view of Mount Washington Valley.

To the Bunkhouse -
The right of passage for any winter overnight is getting through the night. Feeling good from dinner, red wine and comfortable spot next to the wood burning stove I starting thinking about the cold outside. The three of us mentally and physically prepare to take a short frigid walk to the unheated 10 degree bunkhouse, as we left I was told by the hut-taker to enjoy the warm evening. Ha warm....you know its cold when the half drank can of Coors beside my bunk froze during the night and my sleeping bag was coated in a light frost in the AM.

We survived the cold night -
I was happy to see the sunrise over the large boulder field named the Ramparts. I had a fast breakfast and then went back out to play among the snow capped boulders. I treasure every moment I spend in the mountains since it's so hard to find the time away from family and work when I'm there I have a tendency to cram everything into one trip that morning with the sun shining I had summit fever, I would have liked to try for wildcat A and Carter Dome but as life goes "you get what you get and you don't get upset" I looked at my dad and brother and I could sense they were ready and with a 3 1/2 hour drive ahead there would have to be another day for peak bagging now it was time to relax and enjoy the moment as we three leisurely hiked back to civilization. After spending time in the mountains this weekend I realized where my heart is and that's mountain running, my favorite Ultra Run I've done in the past 4 years was the Pemi Loop so I've revamped my 2009 adventures

Change of plans -
Feb. Hyannis Marathon
Mar. DRB 50K Low-key Blue Hills Mountain Run
Jun. 23 mile Presi-Traverse- run 8 of the presidential summits including Mt. Washington
Jul. Cape Cod Beach Traverse
Others -
16.9 mile Kinsman Ridge Traverse
31-mile Mahoosuc Traverse (Following the App. Trail from Grafton Notch (ME) to Gorham (NH) along the Mahoosuc Range, 12,000' vertical)
25-mile Vermont 4,000-ers in a day (Arrange cars, bikes, mopeds, etc., and bag all of Vermont's 4,000'+ peaks in one day: Killington, Lincoln, Ellen, Abraham, Camels Hump, Mansfield)

I declare a war with the squirrels
The squirrels are everywhere in the city even in winter and they especially like to dig though our trash and aren’t the least bit afraid of my yelling and rock throwing so I think I’m going to bid on this eBay item GRAY SQUIRREL HALF MOUNT HOLDING HIS RIFLE TAXIDERMY and hang this outside on the deck this should keep them at bay.

Boston just got 4” of fresh snow if I can gather the motivation I may go for a night snowshoe run.