Sunday, November 2, 2014
I headed north in the late afternoon on Saturday. The weather was cold and rainy, and I had little interest in camping. I got a spot at the Joe Dodge Lodge in Pinkham Notch (20 minutes north of north Conway). I stopped at Moat Mountain Smokehouse and Brewery on the way up. I've tried to eat there multiple times, but long waits have always kept me away. The food was excellent, and the Iron Mike Pale Ale is also worth seeking out. It started to snow shortly before I got to the lodge and was already accumulating quickly. The lodge is perfect for hikers and has cheap bunks in a heated lodge with full breakfast buffet included. I grabbed a spot by the fireplace and read for a few hours before crashing.
The forecast for Sunday was brutal. According to the higher summits forecast (in part): Noreaster will cause winds to steadily increase, reaching sustained speeds of hurricane force this afternoon with higher gusts" Winds: NW 85-105 w/ higher gusts. wind chills 25-35 below. All that said, I had heard that the summits of Carter were largely tree covered and hoped it would not be too bad. I could always turn back if it was too exposed or if the wind was too much. As it turned out, the strongest gust I felt all day was walking from the lodge to my car in the morning (~20 mph).
I took the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail to the Carter Dome trail up to the Zeta Pass. The trail had a few inches of fresh snow and I kept on the microspikes the whole way. I only saw one other person on the trail who was headed down from the Carter Hut. The ridge was very mild and well protected. I had hoped to catch both South and Middle Carter, but part way between the two, I felt the temperature drop pretty substantially very quickly. I still was not uncomfortable with the temperature, but I didn't like the rapid weather change since I was solo, and decided to head down without making it to Middle Carter. I was less than a mile from the second summit, so that was a bit frustrating.
Made it down in just over 5 hours. Home in time to make a big fire and watch the Pats demolish the Broncos. Solid day.
Pictures here (just iphone): Pictures - South Carter