View Full Version : Carter Moriah Traverse (19MBT, CMT, SBT) June 13, 2008

06-14-2008, 09:50 PM
Carter Dome, (Mount Hight), South Carter, Middle Carter, (North Carter), Mount Moriah via Nineteen Mile Brook Trail, Carter-Moriah Trail and Stony Brook Trail, using a bicycle to close the loop. Total distance was 17.9 miles and 5700 feet of elevation gain in 11:15 plus 30 minutes for the bike ride.

19 Mile Brook Trail to Carter Notch
It's been three months since my last 4K, which was Garfield for Marc Howe's SSW48. Due to a new job, Little League, bad weather on the few days I had off, etc., I was itching to go back out. With gas prices as they are, I was motivated to make the most of a rare lull at work, combined with gorgeous blue skies. I didn't sleep that well, which let me get going a bit earlier, but I wasn't feeling super motivated. Not far from my destination (right at the corner of 115 and route 2 in Jefferson, about 50 feet past the "Moose Crossing" sign), I saw the female moose below and everything changed. I stopped the car, and got out slowly, keeping behind the car as much as possible. There was not much light yet, so the photos are either grainy or motion-blurred :( But she stayed put for a while, until a logging truck when screaming by.
http://inlinethumb02.webshots.com/42817/2632979730097994563S425x425Q85.jpg (http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2632979730097994563FrWRPf)

I parked at the Stony Brook trailhead and got ready to depart. Today's plan was to do the three Carters and Moriah from south to north. I brought my mountain bike and it proved to be a good warm up of about five miles and 500 feet of elevation (in 30 minutes) just to ride up to Nineteen Mile Brook Trail. I went back and forth on whether to do the ride first or last, and what my bailout options were and where I wanted the car versus the bike. In the end, I planned for success, figuring that bailout option 1 (Imp Trail) would get me to a downhill ride to the car, or I could hitch a ride if necessary. I stashed the bike in the woods and was headed up to Carter Notch at around 6:30am. I brought only 2 liters of water in the 3L bladder, plus a few empty Nalgenes, and my pump, intending to fill up at the spring on Carter Dome and thus avoiding the extra weight.

As I went up 19MBT, I stopped to take photos of the brook, and the numerous wildflowers that were nearby. The bunchberries are everywhere and are in various stages of flowering. Trout lilies are gone, but the bluebead lilies are blossoming well. One particular spot intrigued me -- the old dam, with the pool above it. I looked for a while for signs of fish but couldn't spot any, although if there are some around, this is a great location to get them as there were plenty of water insects to feed on. I wonder what the dam and pumphouse (?) were used for?
http://inlinethumb43.webshots.com/2730/2619793300097994563S425x425Q85.jpg (http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2619793300097994563CdjuJj)

I made good time up to Carter Notch. The weather was still cool and comfortable and though there was not much breeze, the biting insects were not onto me (yet... that would change :evil:) Right at the Wildcat Ridge Trail junction was a tent with some bear bags hanging above it. I don't think anyone was awake yet, and based on the spider webs, I suspect I was first up the trail that morning. I dropped quickly down to the lake, and took several photos of Wildcat A overlooking the water before heading up the Carter-Moriah Trail.
http://inlinethumb58.webshots.com/19641/2858791050097994563S425x425Q85.jpg (http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2858791050097994563SdttNP)

Carter Dome and Mount Hight
19MBT is wide and nicely graded. CMT out of Carter Notch lives up to its reputation for being steeper and rougher. The way to tell just how steep a trail is is to watch the lakes and hut get smaller every minute. I turned around a few times to catch my breath and keep hydrated. After all, I could finish all my water with the spring just ahead. I paused briefly at the overlook ("View") and looked beyond the Carter Range to the east, a view I was not really familiar with, but would become so as the day went on.
As described, the CMT climbs steeply for a while, leveling out on a shoulder of Carter Dome before continuing onto the summit. Here you get the first views of the Presidentials. Once back into the woods, I kept my eyes open for the spring. A nice sign saying "Water" points you down hill. I could hear the water running from the trail so I knew I was in luck. A 20-minute delay included 5 minutes down, 10 minutes of pumping, and 5 minutes back up, and I was now fully loaded (counting a bottle of Gatorade, I drank a full 7.5 liters for the day.) With the trail closer to level, it wasn't long before I encountered a large cairn. I knew the true summit was up by the former fire tower but I snapped off a quick picture and continued to the top. The true summit has a benchmark, and has the remains of the firetower foundation, along with some glass which looks to be from a window or two. The old tower structure steel sits just to the west in the trees.
http://inlinethumb11.webshots.com/43082/2207452880097994563S425x425Q85.jpg (http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2207452880097994563SiMDzr)

While there are no views directly on the summit, at the far end of the summit clearing, there is a bit of an outlook, over the tops of the scrub trees. Below you can see Mount Hight, South and Middle Carter, and Moriah stretched out to the north. Moriah looked small and far away. As the day wore on, I began to wonder if it would ever find its way under my feet.
http://inlinethumb44.webshots.com/40107/2005876220097994563S425x425Q85.jpg (http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2005876220097994563BDDTtM)

Mount Hight is said to have the best views in the area, which I can confirm. I had my 'real lunch' here and took lots of photos, and generally enjoyed almost everything about it. I say almost because it was here that the bugs became a nuisance. Mostly they were flies which resembled little yellow jackets, but which didn't bite, just swarmed. In some of the photos, you can actually count them. Naturally 'the view' here is of Washington through Madison, but I enjoyed the views to the south and east as well. Attitash/Bear Peak showed behind Wildcat, with Chocorua's unique profile behind them. I'm used to seeing the three peaks across, not from the end.
http://inlinethumb06.webshots.com/39045/2870725680097994563S425x425Q85.jpg (http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2870725680097994563Bfnnvp)


06-14-2008, 09:51 PM

South, Middle and North Carter
As much as I enjoyed the summit of Hight, I knew that I wasn't even halfway through the day's hike (well, elevation gain was over half at least) and it was time to go. I walked slowly down to the trees, savoring the last bits of the Presidentials (which proved to be the location of the only snow I saw today.) It was on the way down Hight that I ran into the first other hikers of the day. From here onward, I saw many other folks, most of them doing the Hight/Dome loop, and/or coming from the north. Zeta Pass came and went and I was on the way up to South Carter. Yes Drew and SJ, I walked the 10 yards off trail to the true summit. When I was leaving South Carter, a thru-hiker came by, having done the Presi traverse the day before and come up from Pinkham and grabbing the Wildcats. I jokingly said "Have a nice hike", but we stayed together most of the way to Middle Carter. I stopped to take a photo or something and in a blink he was long gone. While the summits along the way are wooded, there are occasional outlooks. Carter Dome and Mount Hight did appear to be receding but Moriah wasn't getting bigger as fast I thought it should be. The best outlook on the way is 70 yards or so past Middle Carter.
http://inlinethumb44.webshots.com/42475/2609122030097994563S425x425Q85.jpg (http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2609122030097994563mHeghT)

North Carter came and went. Another spot with minimal views, although you can see pretty well to the east from across trail from the sign. There is a clearing on North Carter, smaller than on Dome. I'm not sure what purpose it serves (or served). As I descended from North Carter, I tried to decide if it was steeper than going up CMT onto Carter Dome. I think maybe it was although TOPO 4.0 says 41% for Carter Dome and 37% for North Carter. I knew that a large amount of the elevation loss was coming; I do think it was rougher, and I lost some time picking my way carefully down. Luckily Moriah was getting closer, although it was getting much taller too. I passed Imp Mountain, shown below in the foreground, and crossed through the Carter-Moriah col before heading up to Stony Brook.
http://inlinethumb61.webshots.com/17148/2692384330097994563S425x425Q85.jpg (http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2692384330097994563bybqEv)

It was at the Stony Brook Trail where bailout option 2 came along. I could have simply skipped Moriah. I felt pretty good though and without hesitation I headed up. Now, Moriah has been on the horizon for like 9 hours and only when you get up on the ledges can look northwest do you realize that it's still quite a ways to get to that lump on the ridge that is the summit. I was almost "mad" at "them" for putting the summit way the heck out on the ridge. But "anger" turned into motivation and I doubled my pace and in the end it was only 45 minutes from Stony Brook to the summit.
http://inlinethumb36.webshots.com/40803/2033733190097994563S425x425Q85.jpg (http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2033733190097994563vYeVUG)

What a nice little rounded boulder. No place to put the camera to take the peakbagger shot. I settled for a background with Shelburne-Moriah instead, after trying various other tricks with little success. On the way down, along the ledges, the trail is mostly marked by small cairns which made it occasionally tricky to follow as there are numerous false paths which tempted those taken with the views (i.e., me.) It reminded me a bit of Cardigan.
http://inlinethumb57.webshots.com/504/2517829590097994563S425x425Q85.jpg (http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2517829590097994563xjAylI)

With some sadness I said goodbye to Moriah and booked back down to Stony Brook. When I started down it, I thought perhaps I was walking down the brook, not the trail, because the trail was quite rocky and had a lot of running water in it. Here the mosquitoes and black flies were obnoxious and I stopped to re-lather with DEET which mostly slowed them down. Once the rocks became scarce and the trail less steep, it was much easier to outdistance the little biters. The trail goes on for quite a while like this, wide, open, and not very steep. A nice trail through nice woods, with the company of a brook (or at least the sounds of it) complete with a few crossings (on bridges) plus one on a ledge which could be tricky, until you realize dropping down below the ledge it crosses on stones like a regular brook. Too many bugs here to take photos. After what seemed like a while, but was really only 2.5 hours from Moriah, I heard cars on Route 16, and shortly Stony Brook Road appeared, along with my car.

I grabbed a towel, change of clothes and sandals and walked back to the brook to freshen up. It was cold, but my feet and legs appreciated it greatly.

All photos (nearly 100, culled down from over 250) here:
http://thumb3.webshots.net/t/69/469/0/99/12/2056099120097994563UKZmNC_th.jpg (http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/563792512GKTQAN)


06-15-2008, 11:03 AM
WOW, wow, and wow!

KD Talbot
06-15-2008, 06:18 PM
I thought it had been a while since I saw a TR from you. I can't believe the last time you were out was when we met up on Garfield. Aren't you too old for little league? ;) Great TR and pics. My only comment is: the stuff that looks like Azalea is actually Rhodora. Alpine Azalea is ground cover, and if you ask me, it doesn't look anything like azalea.

That was one hardcore hike, nice work!


06-15-2008, 09:16 PM
You're right on the Rhodora -- I updated the album, thanks. I've hiked 3 times since 3/15 - North Pack, Cardigan, Sugarloaves -- all with the wife and kids.


KD Talbot
06-15-2008, 09:34 PM
I'd pass up the long hikes with ridiculous elevation gains in a heart beat for a chance to hike again with my boys. Too bad they're all growed up! :)


06-15-2008, 09:59 PM
Really? I'd pictured you, Talbot, as being a young lad with no kids. Don't know why I thought that. Oughta teach me to assume, I suppose...:)

using a bicycle to close the loop

And I, being a lover of cycling, have to ask, what kind of bike do you have? Racing bike? Musta been kinda annoying to have to do any road work with a mountain bike.

06-16-2008, 07:01 AM
And I, being a lover of cycling, have to ask, what kind of bike do you have? Racing bike? Musta been kinda annoying to have to do any road work with a mountain bike.

I have 4 bicycles - a road racing bike (Serotta Atlanta), a cyclocross bike (Hot Tubes), an old Fuji frame which is built as a fixed-gear, and a Gary Fischer mountain bike. I rode the mountain bike because I didn't know that the parking lots were literally on the road. I thought they might be down a dirt road for a bit... Plus, the MTB has a granny gear which I did not use but figured it prudent to have with a backpack and an uphill start.


06-16-2008, 07:03 AM
I'd pass up the long hikes with ridiculous elevation gains in a heart beat for a chance to hike again with my boys. Too bad they're all growed up! :)


I was not complaining at all -- I'd gladly drop a peakbagging excursion if they wanted to go do something else. I am trying to work them up to Jackson before the summer season ends...