STATE: New Hampshire
DESTINATION: Wildcat D, Wildcat A, Carter Dome, South Carter, Middle Carter
ELEVATION: 4062 Ft, 4422 Ft, 4832 Ft, 4430 Ft, 4610 FT
TRAIL: Polecat Ski trail, Wildcat Ridge Trail, Carter-Moriah Trail, North Carter Trail, Imp Trail
DISTANCE: 15.3 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: ~3500 Ft
HIKING TIME: 9 hours
DATE: January 23, 2010
WEATHER: 25 degrees, slight breeze, sun
MAP: (Wildcat D) (Carter Dome) (Middle Carter) (South Carter) (Wildcat A)
DESCRIPTION: Hiking a ski trail to the summit doesn't provide the wilderness experience some trails offer on the other hand the 2.75 mile Polecat ski trail is 50 Ft wide, groomed and contains spectacular views of Mt Washington's Tuckerman and Huntington ravines making the experience more enjoyable than I originally expected. There is a trail sign past the chairlift directing hikers a few hundred yards to the 4060 Ft Wildcat D summit.
Snow levels along the Wildcat Ridge trail along with snow laden overhanging branches required ducking, twisting and an occasional crawl. Even with care the fir trees still deposited cold snow down my back while traversing the 2.2 mile ridge over Wildcat C, and B to 4422 Ft Wildcat A and dramatic views of the Carter Range.
The Wildcat Ridge trail into Carter Notch is steep but the footing wasn't bad resulting in a quick 0.8 mile descent.
A short 0.3 miles on the 19 Mile Brook superhighway leads to the Southern terminus of the Carter-Moriah trail and 1.2 mile steep ascent to Carter Dome.
A gradual 1.3 mile descent to Zeta pass via the Carter Dome trail bypassing the summit of Mt Hight was deceptively simple and the illusion of energy to continue 2.5 miles North along the Carter-Moriah Trail over South Carter and Middle Carter eventually to the North Carter trail. My description of this section is probably exaggerated due to the sore leg slow progress and over-hanging branches but the 0.8 miles to South Carter started off relatively steep becoming more gradual with a final steep pitch to the 4130 Ft summit. The 1.3 miles to Middle Carter was more up and down than expected but nothing too strenuous. The 0.6 mile descent from Middle Carter to the North Carter Trail felt longer than the 0.6 miles described. Descending the gradual grade 1.2 mile North Carter Trail to the Imp trail felt good. A quick 3 mile descent along the Southern terminus of the Imp trail left a short road walk to the car at the 19 mile brook trail head.
Polecat - Wildcat D summit = 2.75 Mi.
Wildcat D summit - Wildcat A Summit = 2.2 Mi.
Wildcat A - 19 Mile Brook Trail = 0.8 Mi.
19 Mile Brook trail - Carter-Moriah Trail = 0.3 Mi.
Carter-Moriah Trail - Carter Dome = 1.2 Mi.
Carter Dome - Zeta Pass (bypassing Hight) = 1.3 Mi.
Zeta Pass - South Carter = 0.8 Mi.
South Carter - Middle Carter = 1.3 Mi.
Middle Carter - North Carter Trail = 0.6 Mi.
North Carter Trail - Imp Trail junction = 1.2 Mi.
Imp Trail Jct - Southern Terminus = 3.0 Mi.
Total Distance = 15.3 Miles
Round trip = 9 hours