Sunday, August 25, 2013

Upper San Antonio Canyon on Mt. Baldy

This route follows the Ski Hut Trail as far as the ski hut. But instead of crossing San Antonio Creek and continuing on the trail, the route heads straight up the creek. After a few hundred vertical feet of rock hopping up the creek, steep terrain forces you onto the ridge on climber's left. This is where things get interesting and a little dicey. For roughly two hundred vertical feet, you must grovel straight up sand and loose scree until it becomes hard, steep dirt. The final fifty feet is delicate, third class dirt climbing with the possibility of a nasty slide or tumble. After making the final stressful moves off the dirt and into the brush above, you're home free. Then it's just a few hundred more vertical feet of intermittent brush and loose sand/scree to the Devil's Backbone Trail.

Unexpected company on the way up the Ski Hut Trail

The start of the route up San Antonio Creek from the ski hut

Kurt Wedberg and his fellow Everest summiteers from 2012. I told them that climbing Everest was great training for Mt. Baldy. They agreed.

Unexpected company on the way down the Ski Hut Trail

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Carter Loop in the White Mountains of NH

On July 31 and August 1, I did a fabulous loop in the White Mountains of New Hampshire that included Wildcat Mt. and the Carters, with a night at the Carter Notch Hut.

Leaving southern Massachusetts at around 4AM, I was hiking by around 8:30AM. I was recovering from a little stomach virus, so the drive was rather drowsy and the four-mile hike up the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail sluggish.

After last year's experience at Galehead Hut, I made sure to arrive at the hut early -- I was there before noon. You see, during last year's 2-day Pemi Loop, I got the last choice of bunks and suffered a horrendous sleep. So this year, I got the first choice of bunks and enjoyed a wonderful night's rest.  

After checking in at the hut, I sweated my way up Wildcat Mt. for some wonderful views. I then returned to the hut for a nap and then some casual exploring of "The Ramparts", which is the snout of a huge rock avalanche that cascades down from Carter Dome and ends, conveniently, at the hut. Dinner at the hut was a delicious, family-style affair, with lots of interesting conversation among fellow hikers.

A robust breakfast, including bacon, was served at 7AM sharp. Learning from last year's mistake of eating too much of the hut's morning feast, I resisted the temptation to pig out and thanked myself an hour later whilst laboring up the trail to Carter Dome.  

The stretch from Carter Dome to Middle Carter is really splendid, with lots of above-treeline vistas. Mt. Hight is the, um, highpoint in terms of vistas, but I was pleasantly surprised with the section around Middle Carter.

Hiking down North Carter Trail and the southern Imp Trail was a bit of a slog, but I availed myself of the shortcut that leads down to Camp Dodge, thus significantly reducing the length of the road walk back to the car. The night-time drive back to southern Massachusetts was fueled by caffeine and slowed by rain, but otherwise uneventful.

One of several crossings on the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail. 

Moss, conifers, and ferns on the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail. 

The larger lake at Carter Notch.

One of two bunkhouses at Carter Notch Hut. 

Carter Notch and Carter Dome from the summit of Wildcat Mt. The hut buildings are visible next to the lake. 

The Ramparts.

Scott the AT thru-hiker on the smaller Carter Notch lake. 

Carter Notch and Wildcat Mt. from the trail up Carter Dome. 

A typical stretch of White Mountain trail. 

Ruben, the 70-year old AT thru-hiker, on the summit of Mt. Hight. He had never been backpacking before setting off solo on the AT in Georgia back in February. 

On top of Mt. Hight with the Presidentials in the background.

Somewhere near the top of Middle Carter Mt.