January 1, 2012. Happy New Year!!! Today is revenge of the Carters. Back to another set of mountains that defeated me. This will also mark a milestone for me. Numbers 23 and 24, the halfway point to my goal of 48 4000 footers. The weather is supposed to be much warmer than last week and the skies just as clear. So I will also attempt to go up to Mt Hight as a side bar if all goes well. But first things first, and that means a clockwise trip up the Imp Trail to North Carter Trail onto the Carter-Moriah Trail to Middle Carter then South Carter. If all goes as planned then a short trip to Mt Hight and back down via Carter Dome Trail and Nineteen Mile Brook Trail.
Off on the road by 4:30 am and back up to Route 16 just south of Gorham. This time I park at Nineteen Mile Brook Trail head and walk up Route 16 to Camp Dodge. There is a shortcut through Camp Dodge that saves about two miles of combined road walk and trail joining Imp Trail. The path is easy to find and before too long I am on the Imp heading towards the junction with North Carter Trail. The trail starts getting icy within the hour and out comes the Microspikes. Quite a difference from a week ago between this trail and Nineteen Mile Brook. A little under three hours from the start of the hike and I reach the infamous Appalachian Trail junction with Carter-Moriah Trail. This time I am heading south on it. The snow up on the ridge is a few inches deep but nothing that warrants putting on the snowshoes. Up the ridge I go and not far is the peak of Mt Lethe. It is over 4500 feet high but does not count as one of the 4000 footers. Looking at my tracks on the GPS I actually missed the peak via a bushwhack by a few feet. Something to go back to some other day. However the views along this section of trail are fantastic. The sky very blue and the Presidential's outstanding.
At 10:30 I reach Middle Carter and a new friend makes his first appearance on the peak. He is a Christmas gift from the girls and hangs out in my pocket for the trips making a brief appearance at each summit going forward.
A few more pictures and off to South Carter getting there at 11:15. The trail over is a great walk on the ridge. I haven't seen a single sole all day, just the way I like it. After leaving South Carter and a quick twenty-five minutes later I am at Zeta Pass. Here is where I see the first signs of the dreaded species, humans. It's really not as bad as I make it out to be but I just love my quiet and solitude time. One of the reasons I hike alone. A quick 15 minute break for some snacks and it's time to go and tackle Mt Hight. No pun intended but truly the "hight"light of the trip (OK maybe the pun was intended). The hike up to Hight is a short and grueling one as no one has been up there recently and the trail is steep on this section of the Carter-Moriah Trail. Once up on top the reward is tremendous and vast.
Some more pictures and it is time to leave and start the long trip down to the trailhead. Heading south on the Carter-Moriah Trail I reach the junction with Carter Dome Trail and now it is just a repeat of last weeks hike. Back down to Zeta Pass and continuing on the Carter Dome Trail to Nineteen Mile Brook Trail. It is a quick trip down from the summit of Hight and just under two and half hours I reach the car. Mission accomplished (and revenge is sweet) 24 down and 24 to go.
Just a little under 4 months ago (Labor Day weekend) I began a journey with a goal. That goal is now at the halfway point. I did not intend to do all 48 on my own, solo, but as I did each hike the desire to continue and complete each one solo grew stronger. At the end I can say I did it without the help or push from others. At least not directly on the trail. I have the support, love and understanding from my family on this quest. It is now my intentions to complete the 48 alone and after that reevaluate my next goal and time hiking with others. It is not that I am being selfish but more of my time to decompress and reflect on things and events going on in my life. Everyone needs an outlet and this is mine. Onwards and upwards to the next 24!
Final numbers: 12.7 miles, 7 hours and 00 minutes, 2 peaks, # of peaks to date - 24.