Sunday, February 17, 2008

Carter Dome Mountain

I met up with my friend Natasha for a great day of hiking. Plan was to hike up Carter Dome Mountain, and also take it easy with no worries about speed. Just enjoy the day. And what a fine day it was.

We started off on the 19-Mile Brook Trail and it wasn't long before we covered the 1.9 miles to the Carter Dome Trail. Natasha is an accomplished adventure racer, so even though the plan was to take it easy, we were still moving at a pretty good lick. Keeping up with her, particularly on the downhills later on in the hike, was a challenge. That is until I cheated. But more on that later.

As we got higher and the treeline began to shrink, we had great views of the snowcapped Presidential Range. As usual, Mt. Washington was the most impressive, set up against a backdrop of a clear blue sky. We stopped often to take in the views when a clear spot through the trees permitted.

We were a couple tenths of a mile away from the summit when we decided to strap on our snowshoes. Until now, the trail had been very well packed with no risk of postholing. We ate a quick lunch, put on another layer of clothing and balaclavas, and pushed on to the top.

The summit was great and as we were about to head down, the clouds began to move in but no precipitation ever fell. Natasha is great at running downhills, and along with her smaller and lighter snowshoes, she pulled ahead pretty quickly. Furthermore, the crampons on my snowshoes are small and warn out so my traction was negligible. But that would soon prove to be an advantage.

I discovered that if I put my snowshoes together and sat down on the back end, I could sled down the steeper sections with very good control and also rocket-like speed. Now that was big fun! There were several stretches a few hundred feet long, and these were a real hoot. Needless to say, I made excellent time down to the Carter Notch Hut a little more than a mile down off the summit.

We were about at the hut when we stopped to let a couple of other hikers climb a really steep section. We felt bad as they were really struggling and seemingly not confident at all. Eventually they made it up though, one of them crawling on his hands and knees. Natasha rewarded him by hand feeding him some Swedish fish, which seemed to make him feel better.

We reached the hut and stopped in for a final snack break. We left, strapping our snowshoes back on to our packs knowing the final 3.8 miles back wasn't particularly steep and the trail was also well packed down from all of the foot traffic from folks hiking to the hut.

We ran most of the way back, stopping to marvel at the occasional stream flowing under the ice, or chatting with the occasional hiker. Made it back to our cars and stopped at a great restaurant in Gorham for some grub and drinks before heading our separate ways home. Great hike!

Hiked 10.0 miles.
Carter Dome Mt. (4832')
2 degrees at start, 20 degrees at summit (temperature inversion). 20-30 mph winds, higher gusts. Sunny to mostly cloudy.


Mark said...

Those are some of your best pictures! So Cool.

I've never been winter hiking like that, it sounds like fun.

Sue said...

Awww, those photos brought back some great memories! Glad you had a fun day. (Hi to Natasha too!)


Sarah said...

That looks so beautiful! And sounds like a ton of fun too! I need to get my snowshoes out. We've had a record amount of snow in the Cascades this year.

mindy said...

Wow what great photos! The downhill "sledding" sounds like a lot of fun!

Ange said...

What a perfect way to spend the day. Thank you for sharing. I felt like I was there.

IronMatron said...

Sounds like an awesome hike. I'm jealous you got out there! Awesome!
Where did you guys go to school? Maybe Bates? Natasha looks really, really familiar to me....

Michael Jay Dotson said...

I always enjoy reading about the courses and terrain that you cover. It is so different from mine and reading about it is like a mini vacation.