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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Carter Dome (#22), February 7, 2009

19 Mile Brook Trail, Carter Dome Trail. Out and back, 10 miles.

After analyzing recent trail condition reports and talking to eight different people, I finally decided that this was the hike to do this weekend. Trails would most likely be packed to the summit, and we'd be fairly sheltered from the high winds. Temps were forecast to be in the 20s or 30s at the top -- a nice change from the very cold weather we've been hiking in during the past couple of months.

Here we are, once again at the beginning of the 19 Mile Brook Trail (we were just here two weeks ago, for Wildcat A).

19 Mile Brook trail was the same as it had been two weeks ago....a packed sidewalk, easy, and scenic. We made it to the Carter Dome Trail in short order.

Here we are...instead of continuing straight, we're about to take the left onto Carter Dome Trail (as Alex is nicely demonstrating).

We turned onto the Carter Dome trail -- this was also packed, but not quite as hard as the 19MBT. We were still able to microspike it without postholing, though.

This is a pretty path, and the grades are easy to moderate.

At some point we looked to our right and, through the trees, could see what I believe is the slide on Wildcat A.

Soon after this point, something odd started to happen -- this trail is supposedly only 1.7 miles from 19MBT to Zeta Pass....but it felt like it was much, much longer. Both Alex and I began to drag. We weren't "bonking" -- we were eating and drinking plenty, we were playing the usual name games and telling stories, her spirits were good. However, she started walking WAY slower than she usually does. I asked her many times if she felt okay and if she wanted to continue. She kept telling me that her legs felt tired today, but that she did want to keep going...just slowly, please. I think I asked this at least five times, and got the same answer. So we continued onward....I'd ask how she was, she'd tell me with growing annoyance, I'd apologize for being overly concerned, we'd walk another ten minutes, I'd ask how she was, she'd answer, I'd apologize for being annoying.....over and over again. We were caught in a rather ridiculous cycle of mother-daughter relations as the trail stretched out seemingly forever.

At last we got to Zeta Pass, and both our spirits perked up considerably.

At this point, we began to hear the wind through the trees, but we were still sheltered. We sat and had some more food and apple cider, took a little break, stretched our legs, etc. Then we continued onward.

The trail from here was still doable with microspikes, so we set off still carrying the snowshoes.

Along the way, a nice hiker asked if we'd like to have our picture taken -- thanks!! I'm sorry, we met a lot of people on the trail and now I don't remember this nice fellow's name. Anyway, here's the picture he took of us -- if you ever read this - thanks again!! It was nice to meet you.

Very soon after this encounter, we found we really needed to don the snowshoes. Alex actually asked for them...this was surprising...I thought she wanted to avoid them, but she insisted that she wanted to use them.

We continued, and soon some nice views were accessible through the trees.

We had about half a mile to go, and Alex started to drag again. At this point, we were passed by some hikers we had met earlier, now returning from the summit. We greeted them, and I made the comment that we were both feeling really tired today. One of the gentlemen immediately looked concerned and started asking me if we had enough food/water and if we wanted some of his. Bless his heart, he was really sweet. He managed to express his concern while being 100% respectful and positive. I assured him that we were fine, we were just going to take it slowly and that we were all set in terms of gear, food, water, headlamps, etc. His hiking partner offered to carry our packs and go with us the rest of the way to the top -- though a selfish part of me wanted to take him up on that (who doesn't want someone else to carry their pack?), I knew that it wasn't necessary so I politely declined.

After we parted ways with the nice fellows, I asked Alex again if she was sure she wanted to keep going, and in response I got a tempered look of death and a "yessss" -- okay, I finally realized that she was truly fine, and that she's allowed to feel tired on hikes and not be full of pep 100% of the time....and yes, I was being incredibly annoying in her eyes. I stopped bugging her and we continued up the path.

Trail signs at this point were extremely buried....but they made nice seating material for Alex.

We made it to the ridge-type area, just a tenth of a mile or two from the actual summit. I don't think this is a ridge-walk in the summer, but since there was so much snow on the ground, it was for us. This is the only time we felt the wind -- which was mighty, but not enough to knock either one of us over. It was warm enough to do without face protection, but just cool enough to really wake you up!

Views here were lovely...

Looking back to the trail behind us...

We were exposed to the wind for perhaps a minute, and then the trail ducked back into the protection of the trees.

We reached the clearing which contains the summit cairn....somewhere...we walked on top of all the high points we could find, figuring at some point we must have been atop the cairn. We then relaxed a bit by the sign...

There were several stamped-out paths to viewpoints. We followed one and enjoyed the views. Here are some scenes to the north/north/west...

the Carters, and I believe Hight...

and a bit farther north...

We decided to return a bit, getting past the windy part before taking another break, just to get that bit of trail out of the way for the day. So we went across the semi-ridge again, then followed the trail back into the trees. The sun was out and we sat down, completely out of the wind, and had a nice, warm, relaxing twenty minute summit snack.

Afterward, Alex declared she was ready to fly. Her usual descent-mood kicked in and she began to run down the trail (in her snowshoes!). By the time I was able to take a picture, she was almost out of sight.

After she turned that corner, she waited for me until I caught up. Then we jogged/sped-walked back down to Zeta Pass.

Snowshoes came off here, and we both microspiked it back down to the 19MBT intersection.

Another quick break at the 19MBT sign, and we began to speed walk the remaining 1.9 miles to the car. Along the way, Alex remarked on this tree...she said it looked like it was offering an ice-cream sandwich to the sky. She wanted me to take a picture, so I didn't turn out that well, sorry.

She also wanted me to take a picture of this tree stump. She thought it looked like a giant mushroom.

We both began walking at a normal speed now, as we were feeling tired and ready to be back at the car. The slower pace was enjoyable, we both took our time and pointed out at a variety of beautiful, snowy objects along the trail.

We finished our hike at last. This one took us almost 9 hours total -- 6 hours to ascend (including many short breaks) and almost 2 and a half hours to descend (plus a 20-25 minute break at the top). A long but satisfying day.


  1. Way to go Trish and Alex. I look forward to your trip reports more than any other people out there (ok... it's a tie with Tom and Atticus). Congratulations on another winter peak!

    Bill and Sheep

  2. Thanks for your very kind comment! And yes, it's tough to beat Tom and Atticus, lol! I had the pleasure of meeting them in the Tecumseh ski parking lot a few weeks ago -- very nice man and dog!

  3. Bill and Sheep, I just took a look at your website -- oh my goodness, your dog looks like he (or she?) is having so much fun!!!! Your pictures are great!! Congrats on Moosilauke yesterday!

  4. Yes, I think Sheep (he's a boy by the way) and Alex have about the same amount of fun on a beautiful day like this weekend.

    You know, I never even thought about attacking Carter Dome from the side you did. I may try that when I make my winter attempt!

    If you get a calm day, Moosilauke via Gorge Brook with be a great one for Alex. It's realtively mellow all the way to the tree line so if it's a windless day, you have it made!


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