July 4, 2011

The Wildcat-Carter Traverse

wildcatgroupThis fourth of July weekend has been targeted for quite some time now for us to tackle a few more 4000 footers on our list. We had another visit planned to AL and UP's condo in Bartlett, NH and we had been debating which hike we were going to do. For a while we contemplated doing a Presidential Traverse, or a half Presidential Traverse, but in the end we decided to knock off the remaining mountains on the Wildcat-Carter-Moriah ridge in one fell swoop. On Saturday, Katy and I plus Mo hiked over the top of five 4000 foot peaks in a 15 mile traverse of this ridge.

Whenever you do a long, end-to-end hike like this one, it's often tricky because you need to coordinate dropping a second car off at one end of the hike. Fortunately, Brian, Kate, and UP were willing to come along with us up the first peak (Wildcat D), and help us spot a car at the other end of the trek. (In fact, Mo was not originally planning on coming the entire 15 miles with us, but she changed her mind a mile into the hike and rather than turning around to return with the other group, decided to continue on with Katy and me). All six of us were up at 5:30AM and left the condo at 6:30AM to make our way out to the hike. We had two cars so we dropped Mo and UP off at the Wildcat Ridge trailhead and we continued on to the Imp trailhead to drop off our car. Brian brought Katy and I back to the Wildcat Ridge trailhead, and all six of us began our trek up at about 7AM.

wildcattopNot even 1 minute into the hike, we hit our first snag. We crossed the road via an underpass to get to the trail, and immediately were faced with a difficult river crossing. The water was fairly high and moving fast, but everyone was able to eventually make it across rock hopping (except for UP who got a bit wet). We continued on up the fairly steep Wildcat Ridge Trail and made our way to the top of Wildcat D (and the top of the gondola and ski slopes). Brian, Kate, and UP decided to turn back early, while Katy and I plus Mo continued on to the main summit of Wildcat Mountain, Wildcat A. At this point we were more than four miles into the hike, and had bagged two peaks.

wildcatninjaWildcat A contained a great outlook looking over Carter Notch. We could see about 1000 feet down to the rooftop of the Carter Notch Hut (which was on our route), and then back up to the peak of Carter Dome. "We're going all the way down there??" Maureen said when she saw it. Yes indeed. We made the steep decent down into Carter Notch and then climbed all the way back up to the top of Carter Dome after a short break at the hut. From there, we soldiered on over the top of South Carter and Middle Carter Mountains to bring our total peaks for the day up to five and our total peaks overall up to 17! By the time we had made it back to the car at the bottom of the Imp Trailhead we had traveled 15 miles in 11 hours over 5 peaks.

This was a long and challenging hike but it was a perfect day for it and well worth it. Single day Presidential Traverse? Perhaps it is in our future.

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