Mt. Hight, Carter Dome to Carter Notch Hut via Nineteen Mile Brook Trail

I really wanted to label this post,  “Traveling with the Three Stooges” or maybe even “Rocky & Bullwinkle”, but I will stay with tradition and keep it to the Mountains, Huts, and trails.

My reason for the “Three Stooges” is simple, we could not leave the house, nor start our hike without M’s companions. Their real names are Whale, Mr. G and Mickey.  When you hike with a toddler there are days, they will need their own items and crew members. It’s small potatoes to us adults, but true deal breakers for them.  To keep the loving terrible twos at bay and M happy, we brought them. So, I am thinking this is probably the first time in history a whale, giraffe and mouse climbed up to Mt. Hight, then to Carter Dome, to Carter Notch, to the Carter Notch Hut then back to the car to complete the loop.

This is the second time we climbed this route. Our first time was last year, we ended up cutting the hike short and missing Mt. Hight.  I am glad we did this since the weather was cooling and the daylight was falling.

We started at the Nineteen Brook Trail, located off Route 16. If you are coming from 302, Jackson, NH or Pinkham’s Notch, you will pass the Mount Washington Auto Road then travel roughly 5 to 6 miles. The trailhead is on the right side. Honestly, we hiked this last year with M, you can tell it’s the right parking lot because of the cars. It is definitely a popular place to hike. If you are unsure, look for this sign at the trailhead.

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Trailhead Sign

We started this hike around 8:00/8:30 in the morning. If you are hiking in the Fall, I would consider starting a little earlier. The ending of sunlight might cause you to push through some great views. Also, without rest you may ended up hurting yourself. All the trails are marked well and well used. You will walk along the Nineteen Mile Brook for some time. Then you will cross over the brook before the trail splits.

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Brook crossing
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Mom and M crossing the nineteen mile brook

When you reach the trail junction, to head up to Mt. Hight (directly) you will go left and take the Carter Dome Trail. If you are hiking to Carter Notch Hut, you will continue on the 19 Mile Brook Trail.  If you need to take a break, this is a good location to pull up a log or rock. It is a bit more roomy than anything you see face for roughly another two miles.

We went to the left and traveled up Carter Dome Trail for about 1.9 miles to another trail junction. The trail junction continues up to Mt. Hight and Carter Dome or you will take a ‘left’ to South Carter, Middle Carter, North Carter and Mt. Moriah.

This trail junction, this a great place for a break and many hikers use this location for just that. We met a two different groups of hikers here. Of course, they were thrilled and in awe to see us taking M up to the summit.  This is where the game of  “Whale” came about. Our little Miss M is a bit shy and tends to hide behind her stuffed animals and other items. With all the attention, she wasn’t sure what to do, so she created a way to say “hi” with Whale like she was waving, but every time anyone went to shake it or touch Whale, she would hide him. So, now this Whale game took place throughout the hike and carried into our next one. I am sure it will continue, since we cannot leave Whale at home.

After this break with a great group of hikers, we carried on up to Mt. Hight. You will travel along  Carter-Dome Moriah Trail then take a left onto the Zeta Pass to climb up Mt. Hight. The first three-quarters to Mt. Height is pretty normal, but the last push to the summit is not for amateurs carrying a toddler or heavy weight. It requires climbing, some very large step ups onto rock facings, some balancing and without a doubt strong legs. I will say climbing up is safer than climbing down. You can continue on to Carter Dome then take the trail to Mt. Hight, if that works for you.

Mt. Hight was worth the climb and another good spot for rest. We did not take a rest there. We did snap some pictures then headed down to Carter Dome for lunch. Mt. Hight has some locations for children to walk around, but Carter Dome has a larger cleared area.

At the Summit of Mt. Hight
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Mt. Hight Summit, Mt. Washington in the background, Whale is on the attack with Mr. G (giraffe) ready
Mt. Washington from the summit of Mt. Hight

The descent from Mt. Hight to Carter Dome is easy and the walk over to Carter Dome summit is perfect after the climb up to Mt. Hight. Mostly, a straight wooded path.

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Heading over to Carter Dome

By the time, we reached Carter Dome, I heard something that sounded like a little snore with my mirror I saw M passed out. With care and help J,  got me out of the carrier and M was still sleeping. In fact, she napped through our lunch break on Carter Dome.

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Miss M napping, Love this pack!
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Miss M enjoying all the functions of the Deuter Kid Comfort III

We took about a 30 minute break here. We knew the climb down Carter Notch would be challenging. This is where your training really kicks in. Being fit is not about how much you can carry for a distance or how far you can go. Fitness is your rate of recovery. By the end of the lunch, I felt like I was just starting the day on fresh legs.  Thank you off-season training.

M slept through getting back on my back and for her second summit picture of Carter Dome. This is where sleeping training for your child and helping them feel comfortable on a hike is worth its weight in gold.

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Second Summit of Carter Dome
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First summit of Carter Dome

After the nice rest at Carter Dome, we headed down to Carter Notch making our way to our next break at the Carter Notch Hut.  You will follow the Carter-Moriah Trail to the hut. The climb to the notch is a simple descent.  At Carter Notch, you will be climbing down rocks almost to the hut.  My free advice is to take your time. If you planned your trip well, took your breaks, this climb is nothing. If you are tired and hungry this can be tricky and lead to injury. There are some great areas to take some pictures and to look out.

 

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Carter Notch

When you ask yourself, “Really, how much more of this before the hut?”. My answer is you are about half way there. Your climb down to Carter Notch Hut is absolutely worth it.

Carter Notch Hut
Carter Notch Hut
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On the Tranquil Mountain Lakes
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Tranquil Mountain Lakes from Carter Notch Hut

We had a lovely time at this hut. The crew at the hut was fanstatic. I suggest carrying some cash with you for some of their treats and meals. Our first step into the hut was like stepping into grandma’s house. They were cooking chili for dinner, had brownies and lemonade. My mouth still waters thinking of the smell.  Miss M was up by the time we hit the hut and ready to eat anything and everything insight.

She enjoyed her sandwich while she talked and entertained the crew and two hikers we met way back at the trail junction at Carter-Moriah and Zeta Pass.

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Miss M eating her sandwich at Carter Notch Hut

The Carter Notch Hut is a perfect place for overnight stays, water refills, bathrooms, food and rest. The above pictures should help you grasp the beauty. You probably want to book ahead for a stay and dinner or you may find yourself without a bed and seat. This link, here, should help you.

After our visit at the hut, we carried on back to Route 16 via Nineteen Brook Trail. After, Carter Notch descent the rest of the hike is pretty easy. The only thing you will may face is your mind kicking in asking when you will be done. Well, you have over 3 miles to go. So, use your break wisely.

On our descent, I needed some time to reset my mind, so I played some low volume music for myself and J. Well, after 3 songs, “Days Go By” by Dirty Vegas came on. I had the iPhone player set to random, I have over 2k songs loaded. I have a membership through MegaBoon.com, 10 cents a song. It beats iTunes, if you aren’t in a rush for the song. Anyhow… the proceeding conversation took place…

“Days Go By” by Dirty Vegas comes on …

J: Hey, do you think there is a Moose out there bee boopin to this song? You know, eating it’s dinner and dancing?

Me: Yeah, I am sure. And there is a Squirrel right next to it enjoying a nut.

J: Oh really, you watched “Rocky & BullWinkle”????

Me: Yes, re-runs…

J: I wonder if M would like it.

A few minutes pass on the trail  then I get the hand signal to turn everything off, quiet Miss M and stay put.  I am thinking is crap we crossed paths with a momma bear and cubs. But no, this beautiful animal walked right on the trail like she heard our conversation.

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Cow on the trail

Well, we had nothing to do but play “follower the leader”.  She led the way for about a half mile then went into the forest to the right. Not far off the trail, we heard her walking and then eating. What an incredible sound. We hung out for a bit. We didn’t know if she had any family in the area. But in about 4 minutes, she walked back on the trail and lead the way for another quarter-mile before turning off into the woods. 

I got nothing. I am Irish, but this luck is purely beyond that.  I am amazed but the cow’s actions and honored that she stepped out on the trail.  We let every hiker we knew traveling up the 19 Brook Trail to be alert for a moose. We are not sure, she crossed paths with them or not.

After another quarter-mile, we crossed paths with a squirrel in the middle of the trail. Yup, you got it, sitting there eating a nut.

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Rocky eating its acorn, in the middle of 19 Mile Brook Trail

I got nothing, again. But I do know J cannot say he never saw a moose or a squirrel eating an acorn.

But, in all seriousness, when you hike down from Carter Notch Hut is basic and very pretty. This trail will lead to back to the first bridge crossing. The location of my first suggestion for a break.

If you hike the trail in the latter afternoon, I suggest keeping an eye out for whatever wildlife that may cross your path.  I never would have thought a Cow would just walk out of the woods and hang out like she did.

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Our trails and location of Moose Sighting

 

 

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Mt. Washington via Jewell Trail for “Seek the Peak”

First off, I want to say congratulations to everyone that helped make “Seek the Peak” such as wonderful event. We enjoyed our time on the mountain and had a wonderful time that the events put on. So, thank you. We will definitely to do it again next year. And to all those that donated, thank you!

I recommend this event for any hiker looking to be part of something, this is a great event to take part in. You can check out more about “Seek the Peak”, here

Here’s a quick rundown of the event;

The night before your supported hike, you get to pick up your goodie bag if you meet the minimum goal of $200.00, similar to that of a runner’s packet for race, but this goodie bad is loaded.

Goodie Bag from Seek the Peak
Goodie Bag from Seek the Peak

 

When you pick up your bag,  you will have the opportunity to spend time at the Mt. Washington Observatory Weather Discovery Center, have some food and meet with seasoned hikers to help you decide what trail is best. It’s a great Kick-Off Party. You will be asked about which trail you plan to take and reminded to sign in and sign out at the trailhead with the “Seek the Peak” personnel.

The after-party is the same day of the hike and located on the east-side of mountain in the  Mount Washington Auto Road entrance. This is the place with free food, raffles, vendors, etc. Just remember to bring you wristband that you receive when you pick up your goodie bag. 🙂 We didn’t spend too long there, since we had our daughter. After a long day of hiking, it was time for downtime and bed.

We decided to travel up the west-side of the mountain to the summit via “Jewell Trail”.  The Jewell Trail is one of the longest trails up Mount Washington. You can find some more information on the trail, here.  It is one of the easiest trails up to the summit, but we find it also the safest. An added benefit is that we have hiked this path before if poor weather or clouds came in, we had a good understanding of the terrain.

The trailhead starts across the tracks of the Cog Railroad.  This is one of the other benefits of hiking this trail, if needed you can take the Cog Railroad down to your car. It is a little pricey, $45 per person, but worth it. Just remember to bring some cash with you. There is an ATM, but it does run out of money. 🙂  The Cog Railroad is another great piece of history for the Mount Washington area.  Here is a link to their website. You can use that site for directions to the trailhead.

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The Cog Railroad, Jewell Trailhead

One of the big changes, that I love with using this trail is that parking for hikers is now free. As you approach, the Cog Railroad you will see a sign for “Hiker Parking”, use that. If you drive up to the Cog, you will have to pay for parking. You can looking at a 3 to 5 minute walk depending on your pace to the trailhead.

Again, the trailhead starts across the tracks, look for a staircase going down and cross the tracks. Just look out for trains. 😉 The first thing you will have to do is cross the Ammonoosuc River. It’s easy, just use the bridge.  You will start climbing rather quickly, but at a moderate incline. Around the first mile, you will cross over Clay Brook.  The climbing up is rather easy, it’s a good workout but not strenuous.  When you start your first switchback, you are about half-way to breaking the tree-line.

Heading up the Jewell Trail
Heading up the Jewell Trail


As you approach, you will know you are about to break the tree-line when you see a nice little area on your left with a log bench and small fire pit. This is a great location to stop and take a break. 

Break time for Mom & Nap time for M
Break time for Mom & Nap time for M

I may look pretty tired, but I am actually getting focused for when we break the tree-line. I have a love-hate relationship with spending time above the tree-line. Minus the direct exposure to weather, I have a little trouble with heights. Yes, I know one would figure I would find another hobby. Well, that’s not me, I am the person that takes my fears head-on. This is one way to do it and its step one in the process of reaching my goal.

When you break tree-line (around mile 3) you will get to see Mount Washington to your right, it looks like it across the way, it is, but you have a few more miles of climbing before you are standing on the observation deck.  For your second view,  you can turn around and see the Cog Railroad, where you started.

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View back down to the Cog Railroad
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M & me with Mount Washington in the distance

This section of the trail is rock to rock, with some small areas of earth path. Keep to the trail by following blue trail markers and cairns, also read your trail signs.  The Jewell Trail will “end” and you will follow the Gulfside Trail (AT =  Appalachian Trail). There is a nice large flat-ish area after the Jewell Trail ends and you pick up the Gulfside Trail its about 0.3 miles from the end of the Jewell Trail.  Below, is the trail junction sign, this is where we let M out to play for a bit.  Excuse the bee, M decided to bring it along this with “Navigational” Pony this hike.

 

Trail Junction Sign, located of playtime
Trail Junction Sign, location of playtime
Area for playtime
View from playtime area to Mount Washington
M practicing with Dad
M practicing with Dad

There are few paths you can take to get to the summit. We took the Gulfside Trail then followed the Cog Railroad up to the summit our first time. This time we followed the Gulfside Trail, crossed over the Cog Railroad and connected with Crawford’s Path and up to the summit.  The views looking out from the trail are amazing.

View over my left shoulder
View over my left shoulder

As mentioned, you can hike along the side of the Cog Railroad or across over the tracks. Just be aware of the trains.

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Cog Railroad
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Cog on its way down

At the summit of Mount Washington there are various locations to see and do, such as, the Tip Top House,  Sherman Adams Building, stop by the Observation Deck, of course get your picture at the summit post. The Sherman Adams Building is where you will find a gift shop, cafeteria, Post Office, bathrooms, location to purchase your cog ticket (if needed).  Some areas at the summit are under construction, but this does not affect what they have to offer. You can find more out at this link.

Here are some images for the summit

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Crawford Path Marker
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Mt. Washington State Park Map

 

Just a closing note, inside the Sherman Adams Building you will see a wall that lists out the causalities on Mt. Washington. You may start your hike on a clear and sunny day, but half way through or during your time at the summit a front or low clouds may come through. Please, check here for Mt. Washington summit weather. You can also find a weather report twice an hour on New Hampshire Information radio station, 95.3 FM.

No matter what, be prepared for anything, have plans and routes for bad weather or injury.  Be smart, you don’t want your name added to the list. Plan smartly.

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Causalities of Mount Washington

 

 

Mount Moosilauke Hike, White Mountains, Hiking New Hampshire

The summer is in full-swing in our household. I am sure each of you have your own way to kick off summer. Our family it starts with the first family hike of the season. This year we started with Mount Moosilauke.

Mount Moosilauke is found on the western most part of the White Mountains in Brenton, New Hampshire. There are multiple paths up to her bald summit that gives you a wonderful 360 view of the land below and other mountain ranges. That is as long as it is a clear day, if not enjoy the workout and plan to come back on a clear day.

Here’s a quick link from Wikipedia about Moosilauke .

We travelled up the Gorge Brook Trail to the summit. It is the steeper trail and a more direct route from the Ravine Lodge.  If you want a nice walk up and down take the Snapper Trail and Carriage Road.  The summit is worth the climb, but those two paths are not too hard on the legs. The Beaver Brook Trail per topology maps and word-of-mouth is steeper and more problematic because of cascades.  We have not taken that path, but will be later this summer.

The loop (see below) is about 8 miles or for those that need to be exact is it 7.9 miles.

Mount Moosilauke
Scanned from pg. 35 “AMC’s Best Day Hikes in the White Mountains” by Robert N. Buchsaum

 

 

The Gorge Brook Trail and Snapper Trail to Carriage Road start in the same location and follow the same trail for a bit then the Gorge Brook Trail breaks to the right while the Snapper trail continues straight forward.

You will have some brook crossings with log bridges over most of them are before you turn right to travel up the Gorge Brook Trail.  The only concern is that some of the hand rails are loose, so don’t lean on them too hard.

Bridge Crossing
Bridge Crossing

Shortly, after making the turn onto Gorge Brook Trail, a gentleman coming down the mountain was so excited to see that we were carrying our daughter up the mountain. He had to take a picture of us to show his wife. He did not think she would believe him when he told her that he passed a family carrying a toddler up the mountain. He snapped a picture, wished a safe and great hike and we were on our way. It’s amazes me how unique the hiking/climbing/mountaineering family is always friendly, helpful and well wishing.

We enjoyed the Gorge Brook trail until we were slightly below the “Last Sure Water” (see trail map above), which is at elevation 3,300 feet the path is ‘out’ for certain hikers. I think it is about half a football field south of the sign. It looks like the path was lost to a land slide or tree going down or some combo of both. My husband made it across the path using a rock jutting out from the side. I think anyone that is not carrying a toddler or heavy weight shouldn’t have any issue with the cross.

Here is the sign for “Last Sure Water” and the near by Memorial of Ross McKenney Frost

Last Sure Water
Last Sure Water

 

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Ross McKenney Forest Memorial

I made it passed the land slide area by climbing up and around. My safety means the safety for our daughter, so that was an easy decision.  My husband did double back to check the area near the land slide to make sure the trees were in place in case I lost my footing. Unless, there is an extremely hard rain before hand traveling up the path 10 to 20 paces and crossing over a downed tree will do.

There was a couple behind us that caught up to us at the landslide point.  They looked like they were in their mid to later twenty. My husband let them know it was passable, but to use caution. The female asked, why I was up off the path.  My husband just simply said, ‘Well she carrying our daughter up the mountain.’  The woman gave the look of wonder and passed the landslide like my husband and the male went up and around like me. Until, the Dartmouth Outing Club fixes the path do what you think is best and safety for you.

Shortly, after the “Last Sure Water”  marker you will face the harder part of the trail that most say is strenuous or extremely strenuous. I would suggest a quick rest before carrying on. There is plenty of room at this spot for whatever you need. What lies ahead is a bit more work than what you just completed. There are not many good spots like this one until you make it to a clearing area near the summit. The incline increases greatly with a rocky path for about a mile or so. During this time, my suggestion is to keep moving, stay focused and take your breaks when you need them. You are only 1,500 and change to the summit and it is so worth it. You will do a small handful of switchbacks to help with the incline but most of it is rock.

One of the incline rock pathway…

Rocky Incline to Summit
Rocky Incline to Summit

Our quick break moment captured:

Quick Break
Quick Break

If you have not summited up the Gorge Brook Trail don’t be fooled by the bald area that is not the summit. This is a great area to break if you need to, but keep in mind that the summit is just through the alpine shrubs and up a little bit.

Follow the cairns to the alpine shrub and just keep walking until the next clearing … look up a bit and you will see the summit. Yes, you are that close.

Here are views from close to the summit.

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Close to the summit on a switch back
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Close to the summit
Close to summit
Close to summit

It maybe about a quarter-mile from breaking the alpine shrub to the summit. There are numerous places to rest, have lunch and recoup before the climb down.  Many people do camp at the top of this mountain. Enjoy your accomplishment, the views and take it all in. Most people travel down the Gorge Brook Tail. We passed 4 groups and 3 singles going down the Gorge from summit after taking the Snapper/Carriage trail up. One group did the Gorge Brook trail up and down.

We like the work hard upfront, rest and then take an easy path down. Keep in mind, I am traveling down  and up with now 45-55 lbs on my back and it moves around. Controlling down on a steep decline on tired legs takes a lot both mentally and physically. I know I can do it, but I am not one to do so when there is a safer way.

Here are some images from the summit, which was pretty busy with hikers enjoying their lunches and rest. The night campers had left, we saw a few coming down while we were going up.

We were informed that the summit sign was stolen and the college would be replacing it. Until then you will see the simple paper stuck to the wood. The flag was being carried back down the mountain that day.

Here are some views from the summit.

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Place holder until new summit post comes
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Summit View
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Happy camper at the summit
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Out walking around on the summit
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Old Glory @ the summit
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Panoramic Shot of the summit

We were glad to reach the summit and feel the nice breeze come across the mountain top. I was even happier to finally get a break and allow our daughter to get out and walk around. Our break and lunch was about 30 or so minutes. Many stayed longer, but we wanted to be starting back down before nap time.  This time the descent was not a nap time filled quiet descent. Instead it was full of two year old talk and noise making. Oh, well… you can’t win the all.

The descent down the carriage path to the south peak is what I would call perfect for tired legs and a first hike of the season. In fact, the descent was one of the easiest I have done since I started hiking several years ago. It is a little longer, but you know the rule you descend faster then you climb. The path down is again a bit rocky, but nothing like the Gorge Path. It’s filled with small rocks and a few step downs from rock to rock, but overall simple.

You will need to keep an eye for the sign to turn left onto the Snapper Trail and back to the Ravine Lodge. The Snapper Trail is pretty much a ‘dirt’ path with roots and some rocks. Again, simple. Before you know it, you will be back to the junction of Gorge Brook Trail crossing the final two log bridges and climbing back up to the trailhead or stopping off at the lodge.

Our hike time was 6 hours from the car up the mountain back to the car that includes our breaks and time on the summit. It’s a beautiful hike, well-kept trails and worth the sweat of climbing up.

Only thing now is to plan our next hike this weekend.