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Wildcat and Carter Ranges
August 3-5, 2005

Route: Wildcat Ski Area trails, Wildcat Ridge Trail, 19-Mile Brook Trail, Carter-Moriah Trail, Carter Dome Trail, Imp Spur Trail
Map:
 
Elevation:
Wildcat D - 4062 ft
Wildcat C - 4298 ft
Wildcat B - 4380 ft
W
ildcat A - 4422 ft
Carter Notch Hut - 3300 ft
Carter Dome - 4832 ft

South Carter Mtn - 4430 ft
Middle Carter Mtn - 4610 ft
Mt Lethe - 4600 ft
North Carter Mtn - 4530 ft
Imp Campsite - 3070 ft
Mt Moriah - 4049 ft
Mt Surprise - 2194 ft
Vertical Climb: 7879 ft
Distance: 20.3 miles
Who Went: Paul, Muffin

Day 1

This was going to be a longer-than-usual 3-day backpacking trek across the entire Wildcat ridge and Carter range from Pinkham Notch to Gorham, and would add six peaks to Muffin's four thousand-footer count. After giving it some thought, I decided that it would probably be easier on Muffin's feet if we hiked up the slopes at the Wildcat Ski Area than to go up the much rockier Wildcat Ridge Trail. I didn't want her to start out the trip with sore feet.

After stopping briefly at the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor's Center, we drove over to the Wildcat Ski Area parking lot, and ambled over to the bottom of the main chairlift. I wasn't sure which ski trail to take, so we just started to climb up under the lift. 

The grass was fairly tall; it didn't seem to have been mowed in some time. The weather was sunny and pleasant now, but it had been raining the night before so the grass and brush were soaking wet. It didn't take long before we were either. My pants legs were drenched up to my knees and my boots never really dried out for the rest of the trip. Muffin would have looked like she had just had a bath except for all the bits of grass and pollen sticking to her.

Despite the wet conditions, the climbing was fairly easy and the ski slopes were abundantly blooming with all the summer wildflowers and a number of brightly-colored berries. The bunchberries were especially vivid.

We wound our way upward, occasionally switching trails if the grass looked shorter on another part of the slope, and in less time than I had expected, we reached the top of the main chairlift. By the time we got up there, the lift had started running for the day, bringing a number of curious tourists up for the views. There were also several thru-hikers having a snack near the lift building; I think the tourists were amazed to see a number of hikers with heavy packs.

After a short rest, we climbed a short distance up the Wildcat Ridge Trail to the summit of Wildcat D, which has an old weather-beaten green and brown observation tower. The tower could really use a good coat of paint, and probably some major repairs as well.

Muffin on the Wildcat ski slopes. As you can see by the way she looks, the grass and brush on the ski slopes was soaking wet.

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Looking down the ski slopes to the parking lot. After getting my feet and pant legs so thoroughly wet trudging through the grass, my boots didn't really dry out for the rest of the trip. 

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Bunchberries. Although wet, the ski slopes were in pretty in bloom with all the summer wildflowers and a number of berries.

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Muffin at the top of the Wildcat chair lift. I wasn't having much luck getting her to look at the camera. She was too interested in the people who had ridden the chairlift to the top.

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Muffin on top of the observation tower on the summit of Wildcat D. That tower could really use a good coat of paint. In the first picture, the peak in the distance is Mt Madison, on the other side of Pinkham Notch.

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muffin-on-wildcat-d-closeup.jpg (85974 bytes)

Map

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