Wed, Sept 4
I wake at 6 in the Rattle River Hostel and pack up my clean laundry in preparation for the 7:30 shuttle back to Pinkham Notch with Tales, Blue Jay, Mountain Laurel, Balto, and Daredevil. It’s going to be a rainy today. I may only go three miles to the ski patrol cabin at Wildcat ski area or maybe 6 mi to Carter Notch Hut… First I’ll use the wi-fi at the Pinkham Notch Visitors Center. Once there I discover that the Wi-Fi is down which is a bummer so instead I make a few phone calls and leave some messages. Nancy and Charlie were talking about coming to meet me on the Wildcats tomorrow but since I’m hitting the trail today I don’t think it will make sense. So I hike on!
At first I go down the wrong trail and have to turn around. Then up! Up, up, steep, steep, steep. A fast thru-hiker passes me and then I pass an older guy. Hopefully I can beat the rain by getting to the ski patrol cabin. But then it starts to drizzle at 10 am, earlier than expected. Damn it’s sketchy up hill in some spots and very steep, but all goes well. At a spring close to the top I fill an additional 2L in the event that I stay at the ski patrol cabin. It’s uphill untill the the cabin and I discover that Tales, Balto, Blue Jay, Mountain Laurel and Daredevil are all there! I hang out for a minute and I talk about maybe staying here but then decide to press on with them at least for another three miles.
Onward. There are ups and downs and its gray and kind of damp but not actively raining which is nice because the rainier it gets the colder I get. Up Wildcat D, Wildcat, then straight down to Carter Notch Hut at 1:30. It’s a cute little spot with several ponds. We’re in a thick cloud. I change out of my wet stuff at the hut and consider staying although it’s pretty early and who knows if they would let me sleep on the floor here or do work for stay because if not typically available until 4:30… We snack until 2:30 and then I decide to press on once again. I want to get to town at a reasonable time tomorrow and I’m convinced to stick with the others. More big ups and downs – the trail is pretty brutal. Up Carter Dome, up and down Mount Hight, up and down South Carter, up and down Middle Carter, up and down North Carter. Today it’s +5675/-4400 ft!
The sun comes out! Oh hey sun! Man that is wonderful. Then the clouds come and it starts to rain once again. I slip and fall but somehow manage to land on a bed of moss and not one of the millions of rocks that I pass over. Phew. Then down the very steep descent off North Carter. I hope to make it to the Imp Shelter before dark. I finally find the 0.3 mile spur trail to the site at dusk and manage without a headlamp. I check in with caretaker, Ryan May, who is from Haverhill, in the neck of the woods where I grew up, but somehow we don’t know any of the same people. It’s nice to chat with him but man am I cold and wet and it’s dark now and I can’t wait to change, eat, and sleep. Tales is already there but the other four are still behind. I change into my PJs and make my dinner of Knorr selects rice and beans which is not bad. There’s a very loud group of 10th grade kids hanging out in the cook area. The other four – Balto, Mountain Laurel, Blue Jay, and Daredevil – arrive after dark. I set up my sleeping pad in the shelter next to Mountain Laurel and Balto and also between a couging guy and a sleep talker. Sleep time…