Hoping to bag another 4,000 footer we decided to hike up the 19 mile Brook Trail to the Wildcat Ridge Trail and to the 4,422 foot summit of Wildcat A. We first stopped to at the Pinkham Notch Visitors Center to check on the conditions in the upper elevations. The girl behind the counter checked with the Carter Notch hut master to find that he recommended traction devices ranging from microspikes, snowshoes and crampons. An ice ax would also come in handy; if we had one.
There were only a few vehicles parked on the lot at the trailhead and the temperature was around 28 degrees with temperatures rising to mid forties later in the day.
Beginning at 9:15 am we at first tried snowshoes but decided it would be better if we bare booted on the firmly packed trail.
The 19 Mile Brook was snow covered but the water could still be heard beneath the surface.
At the junction with the Carter Dome Trail we noticed that the upper section of the 19 Mile Brook Trail was less traveled. We continued on, still bare booting until the snow depth required us to finally put on our snow shoes. Michael used the 25? Tubbs Mountaineers and Donna used the Tubbs Flex ALP?s. The added traction and floatation of the snow shoes made hiking in the deeper snow pack easier.
Reaching the junction with the Wildcat Ridge Trail we took a short break and enjoyed some gorp and a Stoneyfield Yogurt Super Smoothie. We would certainly need the energy for the steep climb ahead.
The trail now was hardly broken out and the footing on the steeper sections was less than perfect.
The crossing of the slide area was uneventful in that it didn?t require the added traction of crampons.
However, there was one steep section where caution is advised as there is a solid sheet of ice below the several inches of the snow.
We soon arrived at the vista/summit of Wildcat A where we were rewarded with views down into Carter Notch neighboring mountains including Carter Dome, Mount Hight, South and Middle Carter.
Soon another hiker came from the opposite direction and said that the trail was broken out all the way across the ridge to the ski area and Wildcat D. That was enough to convince us that we could easily bag another 4,000 footer. The only problem would be the long 3 mile walk back along Route 16 back to our vehicle. Mitch, the hiker we saw, offered us a ride since he would be going back to the Wildcat Ski area and do a couple of more runs on the ski trails. That solidified our decision to go on to bag Wildcat D.
With the temperatures now above freezing the snow once again became like mash potatoes and sticking to our toe crampons on our snowshoes. Traction also became a problem, especially going downhill into the cols. In fact Donna ended up falling several times.
Views of the Presidential Range from the Wildcat Ridge Trail were amazing and afforded many photo opportunities along the way.
What a feeling of accomplishment when we reached Wildcat D. Up to this point we had done 6.3 miles and still had another 2.8 miles down hill on the Polecat Trail. After a few pictures on the newly constructed platform we started our descent encountering more magnificent views made even better with the sun setting behind the mountains.
Finally reaching the Wildcat Ski parking area, Mitch pulls up in his vehicle on schedule. We loaded up our equipment and were back to our car by 5 pm.
What a way to end our winter vacation.
Thanks again Mitch for the ride back; we really appreciated your kindness.
Here?s the link to the slideshow of our adventure.
Mike and Donna