Mt. Wildcat D & A 11-19-11
Mt. Wildcat D Peak & Mt. Wildcat
Wildcat Ridge Trail
Distance: 7.2 mi.
Elevation Gain: 2,463 ft. (overall) 2,943 ft. (total)
Time: 2:48 (Wildcat D) 4:03 (Wildcat A) 7:35 (total)
The Trail starts out by crossing the Ellis River. Today it was pretty easy to step from rock to rock without getting wet or worrying about slipping. You then go intot he trees and quickly come tot he Lost Pond Trail on your left. Continue straight and almost immediately you come to the steep uphill. There are quite a few large rocks making up the trail, but they aren't all that hard to get up and in many places have been moved like steps for you. But it does just keep going up and up and very steeply.It doesn't take long though and you come to your first view across the valley.
Skirting around an open rock face
Here you skirt around the open rock and then head right back uphill again over a little pit of a tricky spot (moreso on the way down). There was a coating of snow all the way up the mountain today. This made it a little slower going up these steep sections as it was hard to tell how slick the rock would be under the snow. A couple times I did find a bit of ice.
The steep rocky trail
The trail stays steep for quite some time on the way up. Occasionaly it comes out onto open rock faces that give nice views across the valley, but could be tricky with any more snow. After quite a while of steep trail, you finally get a bit of a break when the trail levels out some and goes past a small open spot on the trail with a limited view up the ridge. From here the trail goes up, down, up, down, up, etc. There are many brief downhill sections before more steep uphills. You start to wonder if you will ever get to E peak. Each time you think you might be to it, there is another.
View across the valley from the trail
Open ledge on the trail
Finally the trails levels out for a distance and you make it to E peak. Just a short easy walk after this and you get to the top of the ski trails just before D peak.
D Peak in sight
The trail goes behind the old building and then up a short steep climb to the observation deck on the summit. The view of the presidentials from the deck are great. You also can just see Wildcat and the Carters above the trees tot he Northeast. This gives you a bit of an idea how far you have left and what the contour is.
View from the observation deck
Carters and Wildcat A
From here the trail goes down somewhat steeply over what was only slightly slick conditions. Once you get down into the saddle, there are plenty of sections with well built foot bridges along the trail. I think but maybe one of these foot bridges were very solid and very strongly built. A lot of work was put in and it was done well. After a bit of an easy section, you start going back up towards C Peak. This section is scattered with short steep sections mixed between the gentle sections of trail. Over C and B Peaks there isn't much to let you know if you are at the peaks. Just your own judgement if you are at a high spot. The last climb up to A peak is a nice gentle one and suddenly there is a short path to your right that leads you to the view point across Carter Notch.
There are many well built foot bridges
Short steep spot
I wish I had more time to site here and enjoy the view. But all I had time for was a bite to eat and some pictures. I had gotten a later start than I planned in the morning and didn't really want to go down the steep sections of trail in the dark, even with my headlamp. I headed back over the same route I came up without taking much for breaks or pictures. I did make sure to stop back at D Peak for one more view and to put some gatorade from a bottle into my bladder in the my pack. Coming down the steep sections wasn't too bad, but I certainly had to take my time. Down low on the mountain, most of the snow had melted, but there were still patches. Some of those smooth steep rocks that were a bit tricky on the way up were even trickier on the way down. I just took my time on these while still keeping an eye on how much light I had left. I made good time and got back to my truck at quarter till dark. I could see without my headlamp, but I would have needed it in probably about another 5-10 minutes.
All in all the hike was great. The weather cleared nicely and the wind wasn't too bad. The guide book is right in that you shouldn't under estimate this trail from looking at the map. I also remember seeing somewhere that they don't recommend this trail in the winter without crampons. I can see that this may be the case once things get a bit more snow or ice. There was just enough bare rock that I could get up with bare boots, but much more and I certainly would have had on my microspikes (as the one other couple I saw all day did).
View out through the trees coming down C Peak
Heading down the steep rocky stairs as the sun goes down
For all the pictures from the hike, just go HERE