Carter Dome 4832’, South Carter 4430’ and Middle Carter 4610’
14.2 Miles 4600’ Elevation gain
Kevin, Jude and Emma
We weren't sure what we were going to accomplish on the trail this day. The plan was to head to Zeta Pass, then see what we could do from there. South Carter, Middle Carter, Carter Dome, any combination of these would be good. The original plan was to go to South and Middle, but when we got to Zeta Pass, the trail north was not broken out. Luck was on our side, though. Two strong hikers, Kevin and Claudette passed us on the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail and then broke trail up to the pass and on to Carter Dome. When we got to the pass and saw that the trail north wasn't broken out, we decided to follow their tracks to Carter Dome. There were three woman coming up the trail behind us who planned on heading to South Carter, so we decided to get Carter Dome then come back to the pass and see if the Carter-Moriah Trail was broken heading north. I am not ashamed to admit that we let others do all the trail breaking through the six or seven inches of new powder. As we got nearer to the summit of Carter Dome we saw Kevin and Claudette heading back to the pass and I gave them a hearty "God Bless you." for breaking the trail for us. They laughed and said they had hoped we'd catch them so we could alternate, but it never happened. We spent about fifteen or twenty minutes on the summit while I took pictures and we ate and had a drink. My hands were too cold to eat, so I had some coffee and we headed down. The trail was now nicely packed and we were soon back to Zeta Pass. Sure enough the trail north was now packed out. First by the women I mentioned earlier, then by K and C who were also heading to South and Middle Carter. Despite having very cold hands and having not been able to eat anything yet, I said I was game and we headed north along the Carter- Moriah Trail to the summit of South Carter, then on to Middle Carter. Now you may not believe this, but funny thing about these mountains. They are way further apart in winter than they are in the warmer months! They are way steeper, too! OK, maybe they're not, but they sure seem like they are! Anyway, somehow I managed to drag myself up South Carter, where I finally managed to eat a half a sandwich. Then it was on to Middle Carter. As we hiked along we got glimpses to the north and I kept looking at Middle Carter and thinking it was the more distant North Carter. Imagine my dissapointment as I came to each little rise and saw that I had further to go! Yet, I trudged on as I slowly realized that the mountain I could see in the distance was indeed Middle Carter, and not North Carter. Oh well, I sucked it up, after all, my wife and little dog were ahead of me. About a hundred yards from the summit I lost a snowshoe. I climbed a few more steps before realizing it, then turned to look. There it was ten feet back on the trail. I wasn't going back for it. I'd get it on the way back down. I arrived at the summit half dead and with one snowshoe. "Where's your other shoe?" "I lost it back there and I wasn't going back for it!" "We're done, let's get out of here." I didn't need any coaxing. Emma started off at a run. Now the thing to do on this hike would have been to head down the North Carter Trail to the Imp Trail to a car spot, or even to hitch a ride back to Nineteen Mile Brook Trail parking lot, but we weren't as smart as K and C who did this. No, we turned around and headed back over South Carter, then down to Zeta Pass, then back out the way we came. This involved climbing up and over several rises including South Carter itself. At this point I was numb, and completely on auto pilot. We kept telling ourselves it was all down hill once we got to the pass, and that's what got us there. The trail was well packed now, and it was all down hill, and so we made very good time on the way out even though it got dark and we hiked the last couple of miles under the bright moonlight. It took us close to ten hours to get these three peaks, and seriously, if someone hadn't packed the trail out for us, we probably would have stopped at one, or maybe none. This was our biggest winter hike by far, and we were quite pleased with ourselves, and tried not to think about how Marc Howes had done the Wildcats, the Carters and Moriah the week before in less time than it had taken us to do these three.