I drove up Wednesday night after the evening rush. I found a site roughly 9 pm. I set up camp and got in my sleeping bag. It was 45 degrees when I went to bed. I woke up the next morning pretty cold. The sky cleared and the sky lit up with stars. Waking up cold wasn't a bad thing, it got me out of bed and in my car. When I got out of my tent, it was stiff with frost. I left for my first hike at 6 am, I had a two hour drive. One bonus of getting up so early, I saw two moose, a mother and a baby on the drive through Crawford Notch
|Small Waterfall on 19 Mile Brook|
I started on the 19 Mile Brook Trail to Carter Notch. This trail has a good uphill grade and I made it fairly quickly. At Carter Notch comes the hardest climb of the day. You rise 1100 feet in only .7 miles. I mentally prepared for the worst, but it wasn't that bad. Once on top, I was on the summit of Wildcat A. There is a view near the summit looking east. I didn't spend any time at the view because I assumed, being on a ridge, there would be multiple viewpoints.
|A look back at Carter Dome and the Carters|
From A, you go down then up (B) then down, then up (C) then there is a very long downhill of several hundred fairly steep feet. Once at the bottom, you climb back up to get to Wildcat D. This summit is where the gondola and one of the ski lifts end. There had only been a couple spots from A-D that I could see much of anything. However, the view from the top of the ski slope is fantastic. I spent a half hour soaking in the view and the sun. The temperature warmed up to about 60 degrees and there wasn't any wind at all.
|Big George with looks into Tuckerman and Hunnington Ravines|
|Adams and Madison|
I took the ski trail back down to my car. It still took me almost two hours to drop 2000 feet out of the sky. The view of Washington, specifically its ravines (Tuckerman and Hunnington) was just amazing. There is also a terrific view of the Lionhead, a formation on Big George. It was really clear (although my camera didn't think so).
|Some pretty foliage on the way down|
|The Lion Head|
When I was coming down the ski slope, I felt some pressure in an outside tendon in my knee. It really started to hurt the last 1/2 mile. Besides that, my foot is still hurting and it really tightened up when I got off of it. Because of these things, I thought I would be taking it easy Friday and planned a few shorter hikes if I woke up with pain.
I was actually hoping to have my knee or foot hurt in the morning. It would give me an excuse to not hike Carrigan. So, of course, when I woke up, everything was fine. The knee felt fine and my foot felt like it normally does when I didn't just hike 8 miles on it.
|Easy flat part of Signal Ridge Trail|
So I packed my tent (rainfly was frozen again) and drove off to Sawyer River Road. I packed my backpack and off I went to bag Carrigan. Carrigan is 4680 feet high. It sits pretty much in the middle of all the other 4000 footers. Because of these two facts, it has one of the best views in the White Mountains. From the summit you can see 43 of the 48 4000 mountains over four thousand feet. This ties it with Washington with the most summits seen. I had planned on doing this mountain as my last four thousand footer. However of the three that I have left it was the closest and probably the easiest ( definitely easier than the Adams/Madison hike). Also, being so clear today, I was guaranteed the beautiful views I was saving it for.
|Emerging from the scrub, I still had the main summit in|
front of me, but I had views
The hike is ten miles round trip. The elevation gain is about 3200 feet.The first two miles are almost completely flat. This of course, means the majority of the 3200 feet is done in the last three miles. Needless to say, I flew through the first two miles. You know immediately when you start climbing. Halfway up you see the giant mass of Carrigan through the trees a couple miles away and fifteen hundred feet above you. It is a long three mile slog up the mountain. The term is relentless.
Near the top, you come out to a beautiful view on Signal Ridge. The view towards the Presidentials is to the right. In front of you likes the big rounded summit of Carrigan. It is still a few hundred feet above. From Signal Ridge you can see the firetower on the summit. This gave me a second wind and I pushed pretty quickly.
|Lunch wouldn't have tasted better if it were lobster and|
|Firetower from below. Tough to get a good close up|
|The Giant Stairs. One of my favorite places|
From the summit, the view is 360 degrees. I counted many of the mountains I had climbed. I could look deep into the Pemi Wilderness. Unlike Thursday, it was much windier. The firetower was completely exposed so I only stayed on it for a few minutes. I had lunch and headed back to Signal Ridge. The view from the ridge was awesome, but Carrigan blocked the wind. So I sat there for 20 minutes soaking it in.
|The sky was bright blue. I think I might need a new camera|
The hike down was brutal. It took a full two hours to get to the flat last two miles. I honestly couldn't believe I had hiked it going up. Just like the climb, the downhill steps were relentless. I made it out of the woods at 4:45. Leaving me only two more hikes to complete the New Hampshire 4000 footers.
I drove down Bear Notch Road to the Kanc. I picked up a chocolate milk and headed home. If the weather is as nice next week on my days off, I can't promise I won't be heading back to the hills!
18 miles hiking
3 of my last six four thousand footers
Animals seen- 2 moose, yellow rumped warblers, juncos, yellow crowned kinglets