Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Training Run - Wildcat A, Carter Dome, Mt. Hight

My wife and I traveled to Dana Place Inn, about 5 miles South of Pinkham Notch NH, for the weekend of November 15-17. For the few weeks prior, I had been planning a run in the mountains nearby. I was looking for 12-15 miles with a decent amount of gain to a few 4,000' peaks. I finally settled on a run up Nineteen Mile Brook Trail to Carter Notch and then towards Carter Dome, South Carter and Middle Carter then back down the Imp Trail with a short road section to the car. These are new peaks to me and I have never spent any time on the Wildcat or Carter Range, it was long overdue.

Starting out on 19 Mile Brook Trail
The plan was to start around 4AM and run for 4 hours to be back in time to start the day with the kids and my wife. I started out by jogging up the moderately inclined trail for the first few miles to Carter Notch (~3,288'). The snow cover began almost immediately and didn't get too deep until I got above the notch. I arrived at the notch about 3.5 miles in around 50 minutes and went over to the Carter Notch Hut to check it out. It was still early and dark inside so I didn't enter and risk disturb anyone sleeping inside. I turned around at the hut and headed back down to Carter Lakes, remembering that I spotted a sign to Wildcat A that said .7 miles to the summit. I decided to change my plans and travel to Wildcat A and Carter Dome, heading back down over Mt. Hight to link back up with the 19 Mile Brook Trail. This would allow me to check out Carter Notch in the daylight on my way up to Carter Dome's summit. How hard could 0.7 miles be, right?

I ended up slogging up the trail to Wildcat A at a extremely slow pace making my way through the increasing snow and ice underneath. I attached my Microspikes to my shoes for better traction through here and scrambled up past snowshoe hare tracks as daylight began to get brighter. After finally arriving at the summit, I was delighted to learn that there was no wind at all and I shut off my headlamp to take in the surrounding mountain silhouettes.

Starting to get light at Wildcat A summit vista (4,422')
I spent a few minutes at the summit and began slowly making my way down through the steep descent into the notch as the sun came up. The early morning light started as a shade of blue initially,  slowly lighting up my surroundings until I reached Carter Lakes.
Heading back down to Carter Notch

Carter Lakes

Looking over one of the Carter Lakes to Wildcat A
I began the ascent of Carter Dome from the notch which starts to get steep right away. This was another slow ascent through deepening snow, but the footing was better. Eventually making my way through to the summit cairn, I stopped and checked out the views of the Presidential Range. The amount of time I had been out was getting long due to the slow pace I was managing, so I decided to go to Mt. Hight's summit and head back down to the car after that. I would plan on saving South and Middle Carter for another day, hopefully with my wife.

Some of the steep sections leading up to Carter Dome

Snowy trail leveling out towards the summit
Carter Dome summit cairn (4,832')
Views West over the Baldfaces
Mt. Hight summit looking back at Carter Dome
Mount Washington starting to get frosty

Mt. Adams and Madison

Looking over the Carter Range
Zeta Pass, 3.5 miles left to get to the car

19 Mile Brook Trail

GPS Track, miles 4-5 and 6-7 were at a snail's pace

Elevation vs. slow pace
Strava info here:  http://www.strava.com/activities/95367227

The trip was fun, it took me a little over 4 hours total with all the resting that I did along the way. As I get ready to run the 40 mile Fells Trail Ultra in Middlesex Fells on December 7th, I planned on mixing in more hills to help prepare for the elevation gain I would see at the race. I haven't run at Middlesex Fells since my second trail race back in 2009 when I ran the 8 mile option.


  1. Nice trip report! I am jealous of your trail running speed in the mountains.

    1. Thank you Brad! I try to keep the adventures interesting and I find I like spending time in the mountains best.

  2. Really solid pace, especially given those conditions. Isn't Hight a magical peak? One of my favorite spots in the Whites...

    1. Thank you Larisa! I am glad I made the short side trip to Hight, on your recommendation, it was a great summit. Quite a nice downhill descending into Zeta Pass too.

  3. Good write up and pics bud. Keep em coming. I miss them mountains!!!