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Friday, December 31, 2010

South Carter (Winter 4K #21) and Middle Carter (Winter 4K #22), December 30, 2010

19 Mile Brook Trail, Carter Dome Trail, Carter-Moriah Trail, North Carter Trail, Imp Trail, bushwhack to Camp Dodge.

About 10 miles, 3500 feet elevation gain.

It's that time of year again; calendar winter has arrived and the game is on.

Our first peaks of the season were South and Middle Carter. Alex and I had our boots on the trail at 8am. We were to hike with DaveBear, but we all agreed the two of us would start without him and he would catch up to us after taking care of his playful and energetic puppy, Thor.

Off we set on a typically brisk winter day.

DaveBear and Thor joined us about a mile up the trail...

Thor loved the snow!

We took a break at the intersection with Carter Dome Trail...

...before beginning the climb up to Zeta Pass.

And...the fun began.

The trail was broken from the previous storm, but the snow was still too soft to bareboot. I tried going without snowshoes only to sink ankle-high with every third step. Even Alex, who usually floats on top of the snow due to her light weight, had difficulties. I called for a break and on went the snowshoes.

For most people, snowshoes are a blessing. Not so for this hiker. When I was pregnant with Alex, I developed a large and extensive blood clot that stretched from the bottom of my calf to just underneath my heart. This clot almost killed me and my unborn child, but medical technology saved the day and we both survived. However, the circulation in my leg is now permanently affected and there are times when my leg simply does not get the blood it needs in order to function properly. Repeatedly lifting a snowshoe up a steep hill causes cramps and eventual excruciating pain, as the weight of the 'shoe is heavier than my leg can handle. I can wear snowshoes on the ascent for a mile, tops -- and that's if the trail is already broken (going downhill isn't a problem).

Carter Dome Trail is 1.9 miles, and the pain kicked in before we'd gotten halfway up. The pain turned into mind-blowing agony, and my pace slowed to that of an overweight snail's. Alex kept stopping and asking if I was okay...I told her I'd be alright once we reached Zeta Pass. I also told her -- truthfully -- that the only reason we were continuing was because DaveBear was with us. This hike was going to take much longer than I had anticipated.

A quarter mile from Zeta Pass, I couldn't take it anymore. The snowshoes came off, I stretched and massaged, and all was soon better. I barebooted the last bit of trail to Zeta Pass, postholing a couple of times but not really caring, as I was thrilled to have healthy sensation return to my leg.

A nice break at Zeta combined with DaveBear, Thor and Alex's patient understanding helped restore my spirits.

I thought about trying to bareboot to South Carter, but descending hikers warned that the snow was too soft. The 'shoes went back on, and we made our way toward our first peak of the day.

Fortunately, the pain in my leg did not return -- at least, not in full force. However, I remained quite the slowpoke.

We arrived at South Carter and took another nice break.

Food, water, and onward.

Here's Middle Carter, our next destination, 1.3 miles away.

We were treated to some lovely views on the way there. Here, DaveBear and Alex check out the Presidential Range. Unfortunately, as I climbed up to take a picture, I fell and managed to slam my camera deep into the snow. Had to wait a bit for the lens to defog; I got a nice shot later.

Views to the northeast (after my camera recovered from the rude dunking).

Middle Carter, just ahead...

...and that nice shot of the Presidentials I was finally able to take.

On Middle Carter...

Views to the east...

Thanks to me and my bum leg, the hour was late. DaveBear suggested we go down North Carter and Imp Trails instead of the out-and-back we had planned. The advantage to this approach was that there would be no going back up and over Middle Carter. My leg liked this idea very much, and we followed DaveBear north for an impromptu loop hike.

Thankfully, the trails were broken and we descended at a decent pace. Nevertheless, the sun went down while we were still about two miles from the road, and I began to worry about goblins and werewolves (I'm afraid of the dark).

We made it out in fine shape, intact and uneaten, which probably had everything to do with the mighty presence of Thor.

Many thanks to DaveBear and Thor for their excellent company!

Happy New Year, everyone.

1 comment:

  1. Nice hike, great pictures. Hiking in the dark always gives me the willies. Even when with my dog.


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