Middle and South Carter, June 9, 2012
We finally settled on hiking Middle and South Carter, up the Imp and down 19 MBT, using the Camp Dodge cutoff. I had initially thought about doing the Bushwack from the Imp trail, over to 19MBT, but having never done a bushwack before, this didn't seem like the best idea. The Camp Dodge cutoff was a piece of cake and saved a ton of time! Thanks to all on this Forum that helped point us in the right direction!!
We parked at 19MBT trailhead, creating a spot. I have to complain for just a second about the unneccessary amount of spacing between cars that people leave! If you are lucky enough to get to a trailhead in time to get a great spot, try parking efficiently so that we can fit as many cars as possible there! I don't know how many times I park in the trees, or up a hill because someone parked with almost a full spot, but not quite, between them and the next car over.. Frustrating!! I see this almost every time I hike. I used to have a jeep so it didn't bother me as much.
Moving on... We headed up the road to Camp Dodge, which was only a 5 minute walk up Rt 16. We easily found the old logging trail and it was very easy to follow and not as overgrown as I thought it might be. It was a tad muddy, and I tried my best to jump the mud puddles instead of heading off trail, as it was early in the day and I wasn't as willing to get muddy yet. Nothing serious by any means : ) We reached the Imp Trail very quickly, and saw how this junction would be really obvious on the hike out as well (if one was going this way). The hike up the Imp was pretty pleasant. Had to catch my breath every now and then, but over all it wasn't challenging or tough. We made it to the N. Carter trail and up to the ridge in pretty good time.
We opted to not tag N Carter, and not to head to the view that was close by either. We headed over to Middle Carter with good views coming into play more and more as we went along. The 'plank' walkways started popping up here and there and it seems like we traveled over a lot of these for the next few miles. It almost felt like cheating to cover so much of the trail this way! We took our summit picture on what we assumed was the summit, since there was a cairn, but no sign. We were right, and we continued over to S Carter. We passed over several ledges with views to the Presidentials, which were amazing. We also got a look in the other direction, over into Maine.
It was surprisingly chilly on the ridge, seeing as it called for such a warm day. The sun was nice, but the winds were enough to keep the long sleeves on, occasionally warming up enough for the tank top. Our usual hiking partner was hiking Huntington's, just across the way. We took a picture of Old George for him, and he had taken one from the mountain looking back at us! We took a break in the one of the cols (not sure which point this was at) and sat on some of the 'planks' in the sun. It was an open dry area, so we weren't too obstructive to anyone passing through. After we were fueled up, we continued on. We didn't stay long on S.Carter, and then headed down to Zeta Pass.
The drop from S. Carter is steep, but pretty quick. We lost a lot of elevation in a short time, and then it leveled out some down to the Pass. We stopped at the Pass on the nicely placed log bench that's there. We wondered why there weren't more of these in the mountains! Such a nice break from a jagged rock or old fallen tree. We took a small break here, then headed down for the trek back to the car.
Usually by now I'm ready to just get out of the woods. I often say "Let's get off this mountain". Today I had felt like I was really still enjoying the hike. I wasnt hurried and we headed down the switchbacks, which were also really nice. We could finally hear the brook, but couldn't see it for a while. It was well below us and the brush is thick here. We finally made it down to the brook, and the crossing began. We made the first one with no issues. We came to the second and Melissa opted to take off the boots. I made it across without taking the boots off. We were under the impression that we would be on the 19 MBT then, or at least shortly. We continued on through some really green foliage, plants and trees and ferns etc.. It was pretty narrow trail, and rockier than was appreciated at this point in the day. We kept thinking maybe we missed the sign, but knew it was a straight shot so just kept going. Eventually we came to the 'junction', and knew that we only had 2 more miles to go.
We were happy for the change of pace with the trail, which was now a more smooth, wider trail. As soon as I commented that 'it can stay this way all the way back and I'd be happy", some rocks popped up. The trail went back and forth from rocky sections of rough footing, to smooth sections. There were some sections that seemed like dried up old brook beds, which I'm sure they were. We made it to the old dam, and knew we only had one mile left. It had more rocks than i hoped, but soon turned into a more 'touristy' trail, wide and fairly smooth, like people with flip flops could easily navigate.
There were a lot of sections along the brook that had severe wash out and had been built back up. Some still needed to be worked on, and some made me move just a little more quickly along them! We made it back to the car by 6 and headed over to Dolly Copp to catch up with our usual hiking parter to see how his day in the Ravine went. It was a great hike, and I can check off #32 and 33!
The 'planks' are call puncheons or bog bridges and they are as much for resource protection as for your convenience. A few years ago, the USFS adopted the policy of not replacing worn-out signs if they were not necessary for navigation or resource protection. Hence the signs on the South/Middle/North Carter summits have all come down - there is no trail junction or any other navigational reason to keep them. They were still there in June 2008...
p.s. Did you slap your forehead and say "D'Oh!" at the Dodge Cutoff/Imp junction?
Sounds like it was a good time. Glad to hear you didn't have rain like I did a couple days earlier.
Hiking the carters a couple days before I looked for the signs the guidebook said would be at the summits South and Middle Carter. The only thing I saw was a stick on South Carter screwed to a tree at the summit with handwriting on it saying it was the summit. Never found one of those on Middle Carter, just the cairn.
Guess that means I better hurry up and find the last 15 summits before those signs wear out as well!! You could tell the Puncheons were covering areas that would need them, it's just been so dry that we would have had easy going without them. Beautiful area though : ) And as far as the summits, at least it was the only cairn of the day, and the high points were pretty easy to recognize. Great day over all : ) Now off to start planning the BOnds! Yikes....