|Wildcat Traverse, A to E 24-Aug-2008
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|Author:||bikehikeskifish [ Mon Aug 25, 2008 5:36 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Wildcat Traverse, A to E 24-Aug-2008|
24-Aug-2008, Wildcat Traverse, 19MBT, WRT, Lost Pond to PNVC, Wildcat A (#46), Wildcat D (#47), 9.2 miles, 3650', 7:20
I spent last night in a motel in Gorham (), having done Carrigain the day before. This allowed me to sleep a few extra hours, and save 280 miles of driving. The motel is deserving of its one star rating, but the bed was not too uncomfortable, and they have cable TV and wireless internet. Housecleaning failed to empty the leftovers in the fridge though... Pizza Hut. I left them for the next people. I woke up the next morning to fog in the parking lot, but by the time I picked up breakfast at Dunkin' Donuts, it was burning off, and when I arrived at Pinkham Notch Vistor's Center, it was gone. The sun was shining over the Carter-Moriah range and illuminating the top of Washington and its ravines. I left my car here and soon was heading up Nineteen Mile Brook Trail. There were many new blowdowns, or should I say washdowns, from the recent rain. The trail is clear, but the edges are more eroded than two months ago, and many trees with green leaves (or needles) intact are now lying over the brook. I made the split with the Carter Dome trail in about an hour, 10 minutes slower than in June, probably because I spent more time taking pictures.
Two hours after setting out, I arrived at the junction with the Wildcat Ridge Trail. From here, the 0.7 miles up to Wildcat A gains 1050'. The slide crossing presented no problems, but it was hot and I lost a lot of water to sweat on that climb. When I got to the vista, it was warm and sunny with barely a breeze. I hung out for 15 minutes or so enjoy the view of Carter Dome (which I did in June, and enjoyed the reverse view of Wildcat A.) There are two herd paths up here - one from the vista path and one from the vista sign, both of which lead to a fairly obvious high point, which must be the real summit as described in the WMG, 27th ed.
Packing up, I continued southbound on the WRT. I made no effort to find any real peak for B (or C), I just followed the trail over the bumps. This stretch had some mud pits and was fairly rough. I met several thru-hikers here, including one who was crossing route 16 to the Lost Pond Trail when I was leaving my car. He left me with the quote "The Whites are kicking my (behind)". WRT is tough, but Mahoosuc Notch has the reputation of being even more difficult. It wasn't too long before I headed down into the Wildcat col. The 550 feet that are lost here were given up with difficulty. Since Wildcat D is 350 feet shorter, climbing out of the col went by relatively quickly. Still steep and rough, but of course ascending such conditions is easier (for many) than descending. Without warning, the trail makes a right-hand turn and the tower stands 15 ahead. There is new lumber hanging out around the tower - it looks like some of the floor boards will soon be replaced. Be prepared for construction up there sometime soon.
As I was enjoying the view, a man and his two kids came along, and offered to take my picture in exchange for my taking theirs. What's interesting about that? Not much, ordinarily. In this case, the son (Tom, age 3) came right over to me and held onto my leg to get in the picture. For the second picture, he raised his arms to me in that universal sign language for "pick me up". If you're reading this, send me a note and I'll send you the photos. Later, I met him with his mom and baby sister at a pinic table at the ski area where he yelled "HI TIM!!" to me as I walked by. Speaking of the ski area, the gondola ride was popular today and the top was pretty crowded. A spectacular day to be enjoying the view of the Presidential Range, to be sure.
Now that I've traversed the Wildcat col, I'm somewhat prepared for the killer descent which awaits me. It was easily the most challenging (mentally) of any descent I've ever done. With memories of knee problems, and a tendency to turn my ankles, I went down far slower than I ever have before. Not only is it steep and rough, but sections are badly eroded. There are some good signs of recent trail work (water bars, trailside bracing) but there are also a bunch of blue flagging in one section where there is more work in progress. The ladders (or pinned steps) are both in fine shape. Coming down them, I almost thought they didn't come up quite high enough. Other bits of stone work include stairs drilled and split (blasted?) in large boulders to form the steps. There is even a short stretch where the footpath was clearly machined out of sheer granite. I certainly can see why people use the ski area for winter ascent and descent! After what seemed an eternity, the Lost Pond trail appeared and because I had to walk back to PNVC anyway, I went along the pond. Upstream of the pond there was a nice swimming hole in the Ellis River.
47 of 48 complete. Next stop: Jackson
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