Trip Report: Middle Carter Mountain

A year later, and not much has changed, but the route.

Middle Carter Mountain, Bean’s Purchase, NH. 2019-03-09. (Tuesday)

Via Imp Trail, North Carter Trail, Carter-Moriah Trail. Approximately 10.5 miles.

31 dF +/- at the trailhead, 20 at the summit. 28 back at the car. Limitless blue skies with not a cloud in sight. Winds were approximately 25-35 at the higher altitudes, attenuated significantly where there were trees. RH between 20 and 40%.

Trailhead: 1100; Middle Carter Summit: 1515; back at car: 1800.

It was a bit of an odd day. I got off to a horrendously slow start, only setting foot on the northerly trailhead at an hour that was far closer to lunch than brekkies. Oh well. It was a stellar morning, and the MW-OBS forecast was for diminishing winds as the day progressed, so perhaps I missed the brunt of the wind. The lack of clouds certainly wasn’t missed by me!

For some irrational reason, I was a bit concerned about the state of the trail. I utterly neglected to consider that Imp Face has stellar views of the Mt Washington area, and so was overwhelmingly likely to be splendidly broken out within mere seconds of any snowfall. Duh. In the lower reaches, I made good time over fairly sedate grades. Really, this was a day for the record books: the weather was quite clement, and the views were unchecked by anything. The sky was one of the deepest cobalt blues you could imagine.

I continued to make headway.

Imp Trail, for the most part, was unremarkable. Some blowdowns here and there, but overall, the trail was in great shape. The snow this year continues to be weird; slightly powdery, slightly slippy. But overall, not bad. At the ledge, the views were breathtaking. Rather uncharacteristically, Mt Washington was perfectly clear. I’d passed a ton of cars at the Appalachia trailhead on the way over, and it crossed my mind to hike Adams and Madison. But wanting to “close out” the Carter-Moriah range for my Winter 48, I stuck to plan. I doubt that mountain will be going anywhere anytime soon.

(I looked at my trip report from my Middle Carter Mountain trip last March, and a couple things sprang out: that trip was almost exactly two weeks less than a year ago, and except for the fact that Washington had a lenticular cloud over its summit, the weather back then was very comparable to today’s.)

I turned onto the North Carter trail, and continued upward. A lot steeper now, I began working harder. But it was a bit windier, so the extra effort meant I kept warm. The trail remained in solid shape, with just modest amounts of loose snow. There were a lot of hikers on the trail today, so the trail was getting a lot of “maintenance” from the snowshoe traffic — it was very nicely packed down.

Finally, my last turn was onto the Carter-Moriah trail, which just happens to also be the AT. Those familiar white blazes came at very regular intervals; much faster than the quite sparse yellow blazes from below. Crossing over the ridge was quick. The rise and fall over Mt Lethe on my way to Middle Carter was inconsequential, although the snowshoe trail bifurcated a couple times, as trekkers found different ways to go around spruce traps, blow downs, and other wintertime obstacles. After standing on the summit, I returned to realize it wasn’t obvious which way I originally went, and so I had to backtrack a couple times on the way down. Nothing huge — each alternate was perhaps a dozen yards or so at the most. That unbridled sunshine was keeping me from having a bad day on the mountain.

Somehow, I utterly failed to notice the junction of the northern section of the Imp Trail and its southern section, so while I went up via the northern section, I returned via the southerly route. Both are in good shape, so this made no matter.

After a couple hours, I was back in the very lower slopes of the mountain, and then my car came back into view. It was a good outing. I didn’t bag multiple peaks like would have been convenient, but the trip was very memorable for the good weather and good views. I met a lot of very friendly hikers along the way, which only added to the trip. All in all, a very memorable day out.

Heading up the Imp Trail.
“Shadows are like doors.” (C. Castaneda)
Someone was looking for a cozy spot.
Mountain got steep higher up.
Ice with some sort of inclusion.
On the way back down, the sunlight was like honey.

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