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Sojourn to the Whites, Feb. 21-23

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  • Sojourn to the Whites, Feb. 21-23

    The great thing about lists is when you're done with one, you can change to another. Last winter around this time I went to the Catskills, so it was time to get reacquainted with some of the nice mountains to the east. They reportedly received as much or more snow recently as the Adirondacks. The weather forecast was for warmer weather but no precipitation.

    Feb. 21, Moriah. I got up early and drove four hours to Gorham, NH, to hike Mt Moriah by the Stony Brook trail. I have had mixed experiences with this peak. Several times it has been fast and easy, but once I found myself breaking trail in deep snow and turned around, knowing I wasn’t going to make the summit. This time I was following a rock-hard snowshoe track and making good time, but at about half way up, the track stopped. Thanks a lot—nice way to treat a visitor! From there on it was deep, dense snow. Another thing about Moriah is the trail (the A.T. at that point) weaves around several ledges and open areas. You would think the A.T. would be easy to follow. Well, it isn’t in deep and drifted snow. Just follow the white blazes, you say? I saw about a half dozen all day. Fortunately, I had been there several times and managed to stay on the trail except for a couple of wrong turns.

    Feb. 22, Middle Carter, South Carter, Carter Dome, Wildcat A, Wildcat D. The Carters and Wildcats (in other seasons with Moriah added) are a great traverse which rival the Presidential Range traverse in difficulty and are much more rugged. I started from Rt 16 at Camp Dodge and picked up the Carter-Moriah trail near Middle Carter. Actually, with the ups and downs, I didn’t really know when I crossed Middle Carter but knew I had to have done it. There was deep snow on the ridge, several feet with a lot of drifting, but I was followed a trail broken by a small number of people. I doubt I could have stayed on the trail by myself in some of the drifted, open areas (this also is the A.T). I did recognize South Carter and ascending the long ridge of Carter Dome is unmistakable. After a lunch break in Carter Notch I climbed the steep trail to Wildcat A. The most recent users were butt sliders and I could not believe that anyone would slide down that trail, almost suicidal. With more ups and downs to Wildcat D, it was a relief to see the observation platform above the ski lift. I descended the edge of the ski area and hitched a ride back to the car.

    Feb. 23, Cabot & Waumbek. Cabot is OK, but I really don’t get anything out of climbing Waumbek. These are the only two peaks of the NH48 north of U.S. 2, and there is a 45 min drive between them. Together, they make a good day of hiking (close to 6000 ft ascent), especially if you are driving several hours home. This was to be the warmest day yet, but the temperature was around freezing when I started Cabot. At the summit, it was pouring "rain" from the old trees with snow still in the tops. I was practically soaked and didn’t waste time standing around. The Starr King trail to Waumbek faces south and the temperature was in the 50s F when I started around 1 p.m. The mushy trail was a real annoyance and I put on snowshoes to avoid all the divots and postholes made by other hikers. On the ridge between SK and Waumbek, there were 3 feet deep postholes to be avoided. Most people I saw did not have snowshoes—they must enjoy it. I hopped in the car and drove the 3.5 hours home, patiently following a pickup in Vermont doing 45 mph for about an hour, even when the speed limit was 50.

    The warm weather wasn’t the greatest for hiking, but I still enjoyed my three-day sojourn in the Whites. Maybe if the weather improves, I can get back for a few more days before winter is over. Total of 40 miles, 14500 ft ascent, and 19 hours.

    Jefferson, Adams, and Madison from Carter Dome
    Last edited by JoeCedar; 02-26-2017, 04:09 PM.

  • #2
    Once again you show why you are one of the best hikers out there. With years of training and perseverance you show us how it's done. Only a few among us could have followed that slowpoke pickup for a full hour. Amazing stuff! 😉


    • #3
      Thanks. Most people don't realize that one of the biggest risks with hiking in New Hampshire is driving across Vermont.


      • #4
        Vermonsters. A notorious bunch.


        • #5
          Nice outing Joe (esp. getting the winter Carters and Wildcats in one hike) !

          My experience with Moriah in winter conditions has been similar - tricky route finding after getting to the ridge. The poorly (or buried) blazed AT weaves in and out of the tree coverage and there tends to be ample drifting and blowdowns.

          FWIW - Last week on Cannon I was also following a nicely broken out track that abruptly stopped just before the start of the final steep push. As much as I cursed at the time (especially as the snow alternated between knee to even chest deep), I do cherish those moments when you're given a blank slate and you have to chart your own course...


          • #6
            Obviously Joe you and Waynald have no taste in dysfunctional humans. Vermonters are gods children because no one else wants them...Seriously great set of days. Still waiting for that NH Grid declaration.