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08 August 2010

Backpacking the Carter Moriah Range Trail

We (Simon, Travis, Tom, and I) met up at DEKA at 7am on a chilly Saturday morning to depart for the White Mountains. Approximately 3 hours and 1 car shuttle later, we (Memphis and Jordan included) were ready to go!

Memphis & Simon, Jordan & Travis (with his Dunkin Donuts coffee), Me, and Tom
We departed from a trailhead in a small neighborhood in Gorham, NH on the Carter Moriah Trail. It was about 4.5 miles of up, up, and up to the top of Mt. Moriah. From there the plan was to resupply on water at the Imp Campsite before traversing the three Carter Mountains (North, Middle, and South). To get to the top of Moriah we scrambled up some bare rock faces with beautiful views all around us. From the top we could see the Carters looming ahead.

At the Imp Campsite the caretaker warned us to refill on water because there are very few reliable water sources along the Carter ridge. We filled up and headed towards the Carters. It was a steep climb to get to North Carter, and Tom had to drag Memphis (who was carrying a wide pack and sometimes got stuck between neighboring rocks) up the steep sections of trail. Jordan, on the other hand, insisted on sprinting back and forth from the front to the back of the group constantly for the entire weekend.

Jordan exhausted from all her sprinting!
Somewhere between the Imp Campsite and the Carters I managed to slip off a log and step knee-deep into a hole of soupy muck. Luckily Tom had an extra pair of dry socks to lend me, so we carried on!

The hike from North Carter to Middle Carter was fairly easy. North Carter is not classified as one of the 48 peaks above 4000' (even though it stands at 4530') because you don't have to descend (and ascend) 200' before getting to the next 4000'er (Middle Carter).

We planned to stay at a backcountry campsite between Middle and South Carter that Simon had read about online, but as we were nearing South Carter, all we could see was dense, uneven, mossy forest all around us. Just as we were about to give up and squeeze our tents in between the trees, Travis, who had insisted on pressing ahead, yelled back that he'd found a great site. It was perfect! Two flat, soft clearings in the woods with a fire pit next to them.

After making camp we cooked up some beans and rice with broccoli - almost using beer since we were running out of water. Travis started a nice fire right next to Tom's tent, and I attempted to dry out my shoes and socks.

After a restful night we packed up camp and got back on the trail. We quickly ascended South Carter before descending to Zeta Pass where we restocked on water (from a somewhat sketchy stagnant stream). We climbed a very steep but short section of trail to the summit of Mt. Hight, which had a spectacular 360 degree view of the Carter Ridge and the Presidentials:

The Presidential Range from Mt. Hight -- Mt. Washington is on the left
We hopped over to Carter Dome to check our 4th 4000'er off the list (Simon's 20th!) before descending to the Carter Notch Hut and Carter Lakes:

Walking along the ridge to Carter Dome

Jordan's favorite pastime involves frantically digging in the water and picking up large, spherical rocks which she then delivers to us and expects to play fetch with.
From there we headed back down to Rt. 16 via the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail. Two days, 4 to 7 mountains (depending on whom you ask), and 19 miles later we finally reached Tom's car. We drove back to Manchester and completed the weekend with a delicious BBQ at Tom's house.

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