One of the Carter Lakes

Carter Dome (4832')


Although minor, the consequences of this hike started with a late Friday night in Boston. Saturday morning came too soon and we would suffer most of the day for it. Neither of us felt well, but we didn't want to miss this day on the trails. It was just Elleing and I today, so we packed the roadster. Since the weather was excellent, we would enjoy the drive. We took the Kancamagus to Bear Notch road and it was great. We should have kept driving, but instead we stopped at the trailhead, donned our gear, and set out.

Things started well enough. It was 11:40am which was a late start but we'd finish before sunset. Temps were in the 70's which was perfect. We still weren't feeling well, but 19 Mile Brook was easy and I figured we'd snap out of it. Even though the subject came up more than once, the gentle grade let us get far enough along that we never turned back. Had the trail been more difficult early on, I think we would have changed plans. We were hiking on little sleep and bad food on top of a late start. I was running on sheer will to have not driven all this way for nothing and I urged Elleing along with a promised stop at Banana Republic if we finished before they closed.

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We sucked it up and the climb passed quickly. We stopped to check out the dam with an inviting pool backed up behind it. Psychotic, cheek-stuffed chipmunks pestered us at the Carter Dome Trail junction. The Carter Dome Trail was steeper, but we continued to make good progress. We passing a lone trekker coming down the Carter Dome Trail who suggested we return the way we came if we wanted to avoid the precipitous descent of the Carter-Moriah Trail. Given my overwhelming sense of fatigue, it sounded like good advice. Two backpackers welcomed us when we reached the Carter-Moriah ridge with relative ease.

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The backpackers scoffed when I told them we were peakbaggers tagging Carter Dome and heading out. They insisted we visit Mount Hight for the best view in the Carter-Moriah range. With a pitch like that we'd be crazy to skip it, but we're peakbaggers and everyone knows they're all crazy. We ignored their advice and reached the sun-drenched summit around 3:00pm.

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When we reached the summit, I felt about as bad as I've ever felt on a hike. The fantastic 50 degree weather helped, but not much. We examined the obstructed view off the summit which framed the northern Presidentials and Mount Hight. (Mount Hight did look very nice, so perhaps another day . . . ) We tried to rest for a while but the only thing I needed was to get out of there. Elleing couldn't have agreed more. After lunch, we ignore the advice of the lone hiker and descended into Carter Notch around 3:40pm.

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We knew the easiest way out was to retrace our steps, but we don't like covering the same ground twice. Also, the views climbing down to Carter Notch are as great as I've heard and the Carter Notch Hut was the only hut in the whites we had never been to. About half way down, I was starting to feel better. Elleing was feeling better, too. I knew we'd snap out of it. I think there's something medicinal about certain places in the Whites and this is one of them. The way the hut, Rampart, and lakes are all situated between two peaks rising 1000 feet on each side is incredible.

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After visiting the hut, we made the short climb to the 19 Mile Brook Trail and began the long walk back. The grade and footing are ideal and as wiped out as we were, we reached the car by 18:45 with 10 miles and 3350' behind us. We had plenty of time to stop at Banana Republic in North Conway where Elleing bought a new blouse before we headed across the Kanc to Truant's for dinner. Dinner and service were terrible which is too bad since it's usually a decent place to grab dinner after hiking.

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