A Holiday Weekend in the Whites: Carters

Let me preface by saying I am behind on writing recaps on my hikes. Life’s been hectic this past year with wedding planning and switching jobs. Needless to say, I’m back to a somewhat “normal” schedule. This hike you’ll be reading about occurred during Thanksgiving 2015 weekend so please excuse the extreme tardiness.

A holiday weekend isn’t the same without an overnight hike. The mountains of choice? Carter Dome (4,832 feet), South Carter (4,430 feet), and Middle Carter (4,610 feet), located in the Carter-Moriah Range just northeast of Pinkham Notch. Along for the ride were Chris and Rob (Chris’ dad and now my FIL). We opted to not bring Milo as that Thanksgiving weekend brought cold temperatures and sleet.

The journey started at the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail parking lot off of Route 16/Pinkham Notch Road. Geared up and ready to take on the cold weather, we started on the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail, hiking 1.9 miles to the junction with Carter Dome Trail to continue 1.9 miles on the Carter Dome Trail. Both trails are relatively easy to begin with gradual increase of incline. Once at the junction of Carter Dome Trail-Carter Moriah Trail-Zeta Pass, we veered right on Zeta Pass to find a camping spot to unload all our gear as we didn’t want to carry it with us to the Carter Dome summit. Unloading gear, pitching the tent, and eating lunch didn’t take long as sitting idle made us cold.


We opted to conquer just one summit for the day: Carter Dome. From the junction, it’s 0.2 miles on Zeta Pass and 0.8 miles on the Carter-Moriah Trail/Appalachian Trail. Nothing too hard to do except for some icy patches which were easy to hike around. There are no views from the summit. We thought about hiking onward to Wildcat (A Peak) but with the weather and mid-afternoon time, we opted not to. Instead we hiked back to camp and enjoyed an early dinner and bedtime. When I say early, it was probably 6:00/7:00pm when we decided to all tuck ourselves in the tent. We only vacated the tent once during the night – all together as nature called and if we’re all up, might as well right? I don’t think any of us slept through the whole night with the freezing temperatures. All three of us were in the tent but that didn’t help much.


Just sitting on a bench at the Carter Dome Trail-Carter Moriah Trail-Zeta Pass junction.


Carter Dome…not much a dome.


USGS marker on Carter Dome.

Well, it was early to bed, early to rise. We packed our gear and headed 0.8 miles on the Carter-Moriah Trail/Appalachian Trail to South Carter and continued 1.3 miles on the same trail to Middle Carter. It was a sunny cold day and I think all of us were ready to be done with the hike, especially Chris since he wasn’t feeling too well. Despite the feelings, there were great views along the ridgeline.


South Carter


Not impressed with Middle Carter.


There are views from the ridgeline!

We made our way home by taking Carter-Moriah Trail/Appalachian Trail (0.6 miles) to North Carter Trail (1.2 miles) to Imp Trail (3.2 miles). All were easy descents though at one point Chris and I switched packs so I would carry the heavy load. At the end of Imp Trail, Rob walked the mile or so on Route 16 back to the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail Parking Lot to retrieve the car while Chris and I did some dancing to keep warm. All in all, it was about a 13-mile hike over two days. The hike can easily be done in a single day but we opted to overnight it just because it was a holiday weekend and we wanted to. It can also be made into a longer hike with the Wildcats but that might some overachieving!

32px-Black_Paw.svgA Dog’s Walk:

The Carters are an easy to moderate hike. The trails (Nineteen Mile Brook, Carter Dome, Zeta Pass, Carter-Moriah, North Carter, and Imp Trail) are easy on the legs for both humans and dogs as it is a gradual ascent and descent. There are also a lot less rocks and more dirt then your usual trails for the Whites which means this is a bit easier on your dog’s pads as well. The only thing to worry about is bringing enough water for your dog as there are no streams along the route. And if you’re hiking in the winter, be sure to dress your pooch appropriately (coat and booties) as they too can become cold despite their fur!



A Crowded Hike: Mount Lafayette and Mount Lincoln

It’s been two weeks since our last hike. We took a little hiatus from hiking to do other things like relax down the Cape and just catch up on household chores. I mean, we do have a life outside of hiking after all…

Well, let’s discuss the latest hiking adventure! The latest NH48 hike brought us to Mount Lafayette (5,260 feet) and Mount Lincoln (5,089 feet). Both mountains are part of the Franconia Ridge located in Lincoln, NH. This easily seems to be the second most popular hike in the region, behind Mount Washington/Pinkham Notch. How do we know? The mass droves of people we encountered along the way and the overflow of cars from the parking lot to the sides of 93.

We started the morning around 7:30/8:00 a.m. to a near-full parking lot at the Lafayette Place Campground. We met some hikers who were participating in the Flags on the 48, a tribute to 9/11 where they fly the American flag atop all 48 four-thousand footers in New Hampshire on the weekend closest to September 11 each year. Each group carries up poles and the national flag (Mass., POW and prayer flags were among the other ones we saw).

Well after some chit chat, we made our way up the mountains, opting for Mount Lafayette first on the Old Bridle Path as this was the easier route to the ridgeline. From the parking lot, it is 0.2 miles until the Old Bridle Path/Falling Waters Trail junction where we stayed left to keep on Old Bridle. With this trail, it’s reminiscent of trails of the Whites with rocks, roots and gradual elevation gain. For 2.9 miles until the Greenleaf Hut and Eagle Lake, we didn’t encounter many people or dogs. It was mostly quiet save for the sound of a fighter jet conducting training in the area. Once at the hut, we took a quick break and took in the smells of the freshly baked goods they had on offer.


View of the ridgeline from Old Bridle Path.

Before any hikers we passed caught up to us, we continued the 1.1 miles to Mount Lafayette. It was slow and a bit strenuous as the difficultly increased with elevation gain and some small scrambles. Once at the top, we were met with PLENTY of hikers and dogs. There were a fair number that had started out from the hut and that mile was far more populous. The Flags on the 48 group were in the process of setting up their 3 flags while others were just milling about or taking a food break. We did the same but not for long as we didn’t want to hang around crowds of people for too long.


One of the many views you get at the summit.


Flag on Mount Lafayette.

With photos taken, we made the 0.9 mile trek on the Franconia Ridge Trail/Appalachian Trail (AT) to Mount Lincoln. It was a slow trek at that with plenty of traffic jams going in both directions, and many people interacting with or commenting on Milo. I even got a “How did you get him up there?” comment. I do have to point out on this hike that we encountered more people who knew he was a Shiba rather than just saying he looked like a fox in the 3 years we’ve owned him. I guess that’s what we get for having a dog who’s a popular internet meme.


First one up: Mount Lafayette

Mount Lincoln was pretty much the same scene as Lafayette with crowds of people filling the summit and flags whipping in the steady breeze. Around our second summit, a glider was towed up and released to ride the winds off the ridgeline. It would be towed up two more times as we finished our time in the alpine zone and was quite a sight to see coming so close. You could hear the wind across its wings and was an interesting juxtaposition to the fighter jets that continued their flights around the Whites, often out of eyesight but very loud. Our stay at the summit was short as we wanted to descend to a somewhat more tranquil portion of the trail so it was 0.7 miles off to Little Haystack Mountain with a quick break, another 3 miles on the Falling Waters Trail and finally 0.2 miles on the two to the parking lot.


On Mount Lincoln.

Roughly half of the 3 miles on the Falling Waters Trail is fairly difficult and steep with plenty of rock scrambling (dry and wet) to be had. Though it is difficult, the trail does have some great views of several waterfalls (Cloudland, Stairs and Swiftwater). Descending was a bit slow as we were careful navigating the rocks (and tired overall). It does eventually “level out” when there’s about 1 or so miles left to the junction.


In this one, I think you can see the Greenleaf Hut in the distance.

IMG_1063We encountered plenty of late hikers making their way up Little Haystack Mountain. Some who seemed to know what they were doing, and many who did not. Chris and I commented on how it baffles us how we see so many inexperienced hikers on the trail yet so many of the tragedies happen to expert hikers and climbers. Of those inexperienced hikers we passed along the way, some weren’t dressed appropriately (one was wearing flip flops – I sure hope he stuck to the falls and didn’t go higher) and some simply just didn’t know what they were hiking up. One family asked how many miles it was to the top and how tall the mountain was. These are things to take seriously as preparation is key to a safe and enjoyable hike. Oh, and did I mention, trail etiquette was definitely lacking in many of the latecomers? I digress. The friendliness of other hikers certainly outweighed the rest. The ones we were leapfrogging as we descended were definitely good company.

We made it out alive from our hiking adventure at a decent hour (4:00 p.m.). We were glad to be off the mountains and away from the crowds. Chris and I prefer less crowded hikes. That way, we have plenty of quiet time on the summit and don’t have to navigate Milo around the leash-less dogs that stray far from their owners. (Milo has what one may call a “Napoleon complex”).

With two more checked off the list, that makes a grand total of 33!

32px-Black_Paw.svg  A Dog’s Walk:

Mount Lafayette and Mount Lincoln are considered to be a moderate – difficult hike for dogs. Most dogs are able to handle it as we saw various sizes make their way to the summit (though some could have used a few more water breaks facilitated by their owners!). Old Bridle Path and Franconia Ridge Trail is easy to moderate with very few rock scrambles to contend with. The most challenging part of the hike for dogs would be the Falling Waters Trail as about 1.5 miles are on steep rock slabs. Depending on your dog’s size and ability, you might need to give your dog a boost (or a few) up. In one small dog’s case, it was carried in a backpack to the top. For Milo, he didn’t need help on any portion of the trail. He was able to ascend and descend with ease. Didn’t we tell you he was part goat? As always, remember to take breaks – there’s plenty of water on the Falling Waters Trail and then again at the Greenleaf Hut. And, keep in mind your dog’s ability and size because you never want to be stuck on a trail where your dog just gives up entirely. That just means you’ll be carrying them down the mountain and no one wants that (or do they)?!



© Elizabeth Tran 2011-2017