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 Wildcats - Carters - Moriah 2/10 
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Leg Burner
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Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2005 6:40 am
Posts: 59
Location: Thornton
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 Wildcats - Carters - Moriah 2/10
I had been looking at doing this end to end hike for awhile, as I had done the 3 "groupings" separately many times and split it in half a few times too. All in all the conditions were good, but in giving up no new snow to break trail through, you'll likely get POST HOLES to deal with. Oh well.

Tim & I met to spot a car at the northern end of the Carter - Moriah trail, and drove to the Wildcat Ski area to start our hike. This wasn't a sunrise start, but the appeared that the ski area would probably not be too busy on this cold day. As we ascended the Polecat Trail, most of the clouds disappeared, with only a thin layer remaining around the upper most areas of the Presidentials. The sun felt wonderful, and actually helped to balance the cold temp's that we have not felt in quite awhile. We encountered very few skiers as we ascended. They were much more bundled up than we were, but we recognized a few of the colorful helmets between runs 1 & 2. It appeared that only a hardy few skiers were actually bearing the cold ride up for the joy of a cold glide down.

When we reached the summit tower platform of summit D, we quickly put on our shells & over mits. The winds were not what we expected, but with the cold temps, there was still a noticable Sting to the air. We continued to boot along with screw boots, as this section of the route is firm. As others have reported, the Wildcat Ridge trail is not brushed well for traveling during the winter. The branches reached to grab the snowshoes on our packs constantly. We were quite surprised by the lack of wind along the ridge. Ah, pleasant. The views to the East were magnificent on this clear morning. We traveled to about 1/2 way down the section leading off A peak, where we stopped to put on our crampons. The snow surface remained very firm across the whole ridge, and knowing that the slide was coming up shortly, we agreed we should have a stress-free crossing with the aid of our crampons. Down in the col, the winds were blowing through briskly, but down just a few feet from the height of land, once again we were in the sun and away from the cold bite of the wind. The rain event from last weekend, followed by these cold temperatures & wind, have produced a beautifully polished ice surface on the upper lake.

We didn't stop at the Hut, but continued on the Carter - Moriah trail, as we could see the sun bathing this whole side of the mountain. Shortly, off came the shells & over mits 8) We stopped at the first clearing, just shy of the true summit, to layer back up & have our first BIG snack. We graze through the entirety of our hikes, but a few times along the way we actually stop to chew. This little clearing was out of the wind as well, but you could feel the c o l d . We encountered the first 2 hikers of the day here, who had come up the Rainbow Trail. The snow has started to form into the spectacular drifts which are normally found on the west side of the trail heading north. They were sculpted beautifully on this day. Descending down to the Pass, we could feel the chill now that we were out of the sun :shock: Again, as we made our way towards South Carter, the sun reached in through the forest, and the cold would release its grip. It was really a nice winter day. Just passed the South summit, we bumped into 3 hikers & 3 dogs. I have met two of these gals two other times while hiking this Winter. We had a nice, but brief chat, as once again this side of the mountain remained in the shadows and the dogs reminded us just how cold it really was........... probably the pups shouldn't have been out on this very cold day, as the gals were planning on hiking to all 3 of the Carters. The trails remained in very good shape all the way over to the junction with the North Carter trail.

From this junction through the spur to the Imp Shelter, which is 1.9 miles
the trail is deeply postholed by either one or two hikers. It was horrible. The new, thin snow cover camouflaged these, and we had to cautiously - slowly make our way along. There were also a number of trees leaning across this section of the trail, which as we all know slows your progress to a crawl - literally - at times. The summit & ridge of Moriah were glowing in the late afternoon golden light, and the almost full Snow Moon was floating up above. The perfect Winter picture in my minds eye ~ Tim had planned on taking many photos along the way today, but the cold temps were too much for his hands, it would take a very long time for them to warm back up again, and the lack of snow on the trees wasn't appealing for his photography needs. The brief section of trail between the Imp Shelter spur & the Stony Brook junction was packed to sidewalk perfection - absolutely gorgeous! The remainder of the trip to the summit of Moriah wasn't as nicely packed, a mix of snowshoes & slight post holes, but a beautiful Winter evening was settling in for our enjoyment. When we arrived at the summit of Moriah, we found a few "notes" in the snow :D Steven & Jeff had been to this summit earilier in the day, and left us a greeting. The upper sections of the Carter Moriah trail is mostly covered in conifers, so the moon light was hard pressed to make its way through to the trail, it was time to turn on the headlamps. There is very good snow cover on the upper sections of the trail, and too on most of the ledges, but once down below the box canyon, there is just a trace of snow, and a good amount of ice lying in the trail. On one of the last ledges with good snow cover, Steven had left us one of his favorite greetings Happy Happy Joy Joy 8) I'm sure this will be one of the hi-light hikes of the Winter for me.

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Sat Feb 11, 2006 10:08 am
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Joined: Sun May 08, 2005 10:20 am
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Location: Lancaster, NH Avatar: On the trail again
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What a wonderful traverse to do! What a wonderful most descriptive trip report! I re-read it 3 times will again! When vegematic & I did the Cats not 2 weeks ago, the snow drifts were at least 2' deep completely covering the trail between D & A. We turned back after a while because of this. We started very late in the morning.

You always mention screw boots on your hikes. Is this something other than stabilicers? Also, on the Carter Moriah Ridge Trail, you only needed crampons yesterday? Snowshoes were not needed I gather?

I've never done this traverse in winter and hope to. It must have been beautiful to see the full moon. That is some very great hiking!

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Sat Feb 11, 2006 6:32 pm
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Leg Burner
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Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2005 6:40 am
Posts: 59
Location: Thornton
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The drifts were gone on the Wildcat Ridge trail yesterday.
The trails; Wildcat Ridge, Carter Moriah from Carter lake end to North Carter trail junction are very firm & mostly packed. There was some minor drifting between South & Middle Carter, but very light.
The Carter Moriah trail from Stony Brook down to Bangor Road firm, & mostly packed with a layer of very light snow.
We carried snowshoes, but didn't find the need for them (i.e. not sinking in) We used the crampons for the one section; just above the Wildcat A slide & up to Carter Dome, though the ascent of Carter Dome with them wasn't really necessary, we just assumed it would be so kept them on).

The screw boots are what ever you use for Winter hiking boots, with traction screws drilled in. Traction screws can be purchased at any snowmobile / dirt bike shop. They have very short necks (won't go through the sole of the boot) and a sharp edge to the head. Put your regular crampons on your boots, and then drill the screws into the available open spots. These are not snowshoe friendly, so you will need to figure out somekind of "cushion" to protect your snowshoe decking from the screws on the bottom of your boots.

Great fun Magic !

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Sat Feb 11, 2006 11:15 pm
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