Mt. Carrigain The Hard Way: 18 Miles In The Pemi Wilderness

The Pemigewasset Wilderness
Imagine an 18-mile trek through barely-traveled wilderness, past forests of birch and pine, the occasional overgrown clearing, constantly accompanied by the rush of a clear river, without seeing another person. That’s the Pemigewasset Wilderness on a Tuesday.

On Monday we got out of Dodge (Eastern Massachusetts) during mid-morning. This was harder than it should have been due to traffic and construction. In fact, it’s extremely frustrating trying to get out of a busy region after everyone is up and about. But we finally headed north, and after swimming above the Basin in Franconia Notch (coooold), and lunch in Woodstock, we headed for Lincoln Woods and set up the tent at the Franconia East campsite, started a fire, then settled in before the 8PM rainstorm began.

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Crushing The Book: Four Hours On The Airline

Tom and Riley Climbing Mt. Adams in the White Mountains

My Life Has Changed.

The weird part is there was no single reason. No job change, family milestone, or graduation caused it. The kids have been around for a few years now, so it’s not that. This just kind of crept up on me, where I’ve become this person who wakes up at the crack of dawn to go running. And lifting, and whatever else it takes to get rid of the extra 50 lbs I’ve picked up.

But I’m not part of the fitness community or anything like that.

Here we are high up on the Durand Ridge of Mt. Adams in New Hampshire, heading along what they call the Knife Edge (I’ve been on Katahdin’s Knife Edge, and there is no comparison – I’d never take one of my kids on Katahdin’s, while Rye is hiking the Durand Ridge on her own). Except for the hour we spent on that ridge, I cruised to the junction of the Airline and Chemin de Dames trails in a little over two hours, where I let Rye hike (which is kinda the point), then powered up the rest of the way in a half hour after Rye got back in the pack. That’s 65 lbs total on my back, and I didn’t just beat the guidebook time, I crushed it.

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My Current Obsession: Mountaineering Books

Above the Clouds by Anatoli BoukreevFor some reason (maybe a long summer of hiking mountains with the kids), I’ve been reading book after book about and by mountaineers. It turns out there are hardly any books about the White Mountains, except for guidebooks, history books and one exceptional collection of harrowing tales called Not Without Peril by Nicholas Howe.

So I’ve been spending a lot of time in the library picking out books that are mostly about the Himalaya. Believe me, I will never set foot in the mountains of Asia, so I’m reading these mainly in disappointment that there’s hardly anything to read about the mountains I am familiar with.

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Fishin’ Jimmy and The Little Girl

A Bluebird Day on Mount KinsmanA Photo of Mt Lafayette With an Obstacle in the Way

“You can see an ant on Lafayette,” said a hiker the next car. It seemed possible to see something the size of a cat on the summit, if not an ant, from the Lafayette Campground parking area. That’s how clear the sky was. Perfect.

Riley and I arrived around 8:30AM to climb Mount Kinsman. Though I’d reached Lonesome Lake before, The Fishin’ Jimmy Trail and the Kinsmans were new to me.

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South and Middle Carters – with a Bushwhack to 19 Mile Brook

Riley hikes the White MountainsClear days, blue skies, cool breezes, dry ground, and yellow leaves. Fall is here, and it’s time to hit the trails.

I know that sounds like marketing drivel, but really, it is time. I was thinking my hiking season might be over by now, but as long as that sun keeps shining, why quit?

So with apples picked, waterslides slid, amusement parks visited, bikes ridden, and playgrounds hit, all my ducks were in a row for a fine late summer Sunday hike in the Whites. After years of staring at maps and plotting hiking trips, I finally got my chance to try the Carter range. The hiking trip to South and Middle Carter was on.

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South and Middle Carters: The Plan

South and Middle Carter Trail Map

You can see the point where the Imp trail reaches Cowboy Brook, where the bushwhack begins.

Ha! George Washington gets one mountain in the Whites, while Jimmy Carter gets four! Okay, maybe Carter Dome, South, Middle and North Carter are named for someone else, but from their summits one can sure look up to Washington like Carter likely did (or, actually, from viewpoints near these partially-wooded peaks).

So the plan this Sunday (Sep 18, 2011) is to reach South Carter with Riley via the 19 Mile Brook Trail, Carter Dome Trail, and the Carter-Moriah Trail, then cross to Middle Carter, and take the North Carter Trail to the Imp Trail back to the car. SCREEEEEECH! Wait, what? Someone put the needle on the record… Can’t you see on the map that loop don’t close?

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