Wildcat / Carter Traverse

Date of Hike: 9/5/10

Lost Pond Trail: .9 miles
Wildcat Ridge Trail: 5.0 miles
Carter-Moriah Trail: 5.9 miles
North Carter Trail: 1.2 miles
Imp Trail / Bushwhack: 3.0 miles
NH Route 16: 4.0 miles
Total Miles: 20 miles (6,500 elevation gain)

Trip Report:
- This summer I had been hiking all over the Presidential Range and Pemigewasset Wilderness but had yet to venture out to the Wildcat-Carter range so I figured it was time to do a long day hike on the Appalachian Trail.
- On Trail at 8am, finished at 6pm.  Temps in the low 60's below treeline, and high 40's above 4,000 feet with 25 plus MPH wind gusts, with good views.
- The Wildcat Trail always seems to kick my ass pretty good, it is relentlessly steep from Pinkham Notch up to Wildcat "E" Peak. The good news is that there are some pretty fun rock ledges with outstanding views down into Pinkham Notch and even better views across of the Gulf of Slides, Tuckerman, and Huntington Ravine up to Mount Washington and the northern Presidential Range.
- The Wildcat Ski Area lift runs up to the col between "E" and "D" Peak and is a nice place to relax and take in the views before heading along the numerous up and downs across the rest of the Wildcat Ridge. Also the observation deck on Wildcat "D" Peak has been rebuilt so you can take in some great views from there as well.
- From Wildcat "D" across to "A" is a bit of a pain in the butt as you are mostly in the woods traveling up and over "hog-backs" along with rough footing through a narrow trail. Luckily by this time I was able to hike at a good pace and make good time to Wildcat "A" Peak where I enjoyed great views of Carter Notch and the Carter Range.
- The descent to Carter Notch is steep followed by a steep ascent back up to Cater Dome.  While hiking this section all I could hear was the wind above and the loud barks from a dog near the hut below, he barked all the time and was wicked loud, it never shut up, I love dogs but this dogs bark was so bad I skipped out on visiting the hut!
- From Carter Dome I made sure to go up to Mount Height which has some of the best views in the White Mountains.  Views to the east were incredible although views of the Presidential Range were clouded in.  It was very windy and cold on the summit and to stay warm I had to put my hat on while taking a break to relax and refuel.
- The hike over South and Middle Carter was uneventful as usual. South Carter is a wooded summit with no views and Middle Carter has decent views to the east and north.  Both summits have a hand made stick summit sign which are hard to spot but pretty neat.
- The rest of the hike was new to me, I had never been over to North Carter but found it alot of fun, the hiking was pretty fun dropping down to Mount Lethe with good views and a pretty cool section of bog bridges.
- The hike down the North Carter and Imp trails was a drag as I was in the woods and it started to lightly rain.  The highlight was after about two miles on the Imp Trail I bushwhacked over Cowboy Brook southwest to Route 16, it was an easy bushwhack through mostly open and mossy woods.  My original goal was to come out onto the Nineteen-Mile Brook Trail but I didn't go south enough and ended up coming .3 miles north of the trailhead which was good enough.
- Now came the fun part of playing let's not get hike by a car for four miles back to Pinkham Notch Visitor Center.  I tried to hitch a ride for about 15 minutes before it became pointless.  Being labor day weekend the notch was swarming with tourists so I knew they wouldn't stop, so I just enjoyed the walk back to PNVC.
- Back at the car I got my sock full of quarters out and took a nice luke warm shower in the pack room.  The hike over the Wildcat and Carters was a fun hike as  I passed by a few dozen people and a couple of dogs along the way, most of which were having fun.  The hike up to Wildcat "E" Peak is a favorite of mine eventhough it kicked my ass again.  Hopefully someday I'll be able to go back and do the Wildcat-Cater-Moriah Shelburne Traverse and beat feet up to Wildcat "E" Peak!

Pictures: Click here for all pictures

Wildcat Ridge Trail
Looking South to Mount Chocorua
Carter Notch Lake and Wildcat "A" Peak
North and South Baldface

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