Middle and South Carter Mountains

Time for a group photo on South Carter’s viewless summit, Sarah, Stacy, and Sharon and yours truly were happy to be there.  Middle Carter, elevation 4,610 feet and South Carter, elevation 4, 430 feet are both on the New Hampshire Four Thousand Footer List.
Time for a group photo on South Carter’s viewless summit, Sarah, Stacy, and Sharon and yours truly were happy to be there. Middle Carter, elevation 4,610 feet and South Carter, elevation 4, 430 feet are both on the New Hampshire Four Thousand Footer List.

Amy Patenaudeby Amy Patenaude
Outdoor/Ski Writer

My friends Sarah and Sharon, the golfing gals, are back and ready to hit the trails this summer. All winter these two snowbirds carried their golf bags and spent time on the dreaded stair-master to be sure to be in good shape for hiking.
We decided a good first outing of the season for them would be to finish the Carters. They’ve already been over Carter Dome and the Wildcats. I told them this hike should feel a lot easier.

Sharon working her way across one of the trickier brook crossings on the Carter Dome Trail as Sarah watches and makes her plan.
Sharon working her way across one of the trickier brook crossings on the Carter Dome Trail as Sarah watches and makes her plan.

The weather forecast sounded terrific and we were a go. We met in New Hampton at the park’n ride and carpooled. Our friend Stacy came along for the hike too. A couple of years ago she joined us for a cold and rainy loop over the Hancocks. The blue sky had us all excited.
I dropped them off, along with my backpack, at Camp Dodge and I drove the car to the Nineteen Mile Brook Trailhead. I jogged about half a mile back up Route 16 and then up the hill into the camp bearing left at the Y in the driveway. At the top they were all set to go and we took the herd path into the woods.
The path is well used and in less than ten minutes we were on Imp Trail a mile up the south end of the trail. Going this way saved me a good mile of road running and another mile for all of us cut off on the Imp Trail.

Lovely View of the Northern Presidentials, Jefferson, Adams and Madison, from the ledges between the peaks.
Lovely View of the Northern Presidentials, Jefferson, Adams and Madison, from the ledges between the peaks.

We hiked and chatted steadily as we hiked up the trail. Just enough of a breeze kept us cool in the pretty fir forest. We continued on the North Carter Trail to the reach the ridge and to join the Carter Moriah Trail. The North Carter Trail had water running down the trail but we were able to rock hop to keep our feet dry.
We weren’t on the ridge long when we were caught by Mike hiking solo on his way to Carter Dome. He had dropped his car off at Nineteen Mile Brook Trail too. We all hiked along together until we hit a lovely wet area that had bog bridges across it. Here we took photos of one another and then he took off ahead of us.
We really took our time soaking in the grand vista on the ledges as we neared Middle Carter’s summit. We were thrilled. Last summer we had a long streak of no-views-today on the summits we climbed. The Northern Presidentials were especially grand and a few still sported patches of snow on their flanks. Mount Washington loomed large and I was reminded several times that we were going to be visiting Madison and Adams soon.
We made good time to the ridge and it was nice not to be in a hurry. My friends were pleased to back in the mountains and they radiated happiness.

Sharon, Stacy and Sarah taking a well earned break at the intersection of the North Carter and Carter Moriah Trails.
Sharon, Stacy and Sarah taking a well earned break at the intersection of the North Carter and Carter Moriah Trails.

We tapped the small summit cairn with our poles and continued down the trail. We crossed a flat area that had a few more bog bridges. Shortly we reached a ledgy outlook. Here we found Mike sitting and eating his lunch.
Mike took off again and we decided to have lunch here too. I traded half my peanut butter and honey sandwich with Stacy for her buffalo beef stick from Warner, NH. I looked at the map and realized this was the last big open view we would enjoy today. Unless we wanted to go to Mount Hight and Carter Dome—that made everyone laugh.
Up and over the viewless summit of South Carter we went only taking a moment to tap our hiking poles on the summit cairn just a few yards off the trail.
Since it was Wednesday, we met only a handful of hikers traveling north. Two men were out backpacking and they told us they had been out hiking for the last ten days. Another was a fast fellow out for a quick run. The Carter Moriah Trail is part of the Appalachian Trail and in another month the north bound AT hikers numbers will begin to show up.

The Carter Moriah Trail is part of the Appalachian Trail and it crosses over the mountaintops from Carter Notch to Mount Moriah.   Sarah is about to cross bog bridges on the way to South Carter.
The Carter Moriah Trail is part of the Appalachian Trail and it crosses over the mountaintops from Carter Notch to Mount Moriah. Sarah is about to cross bog bridges on the way to South Carter.

From Zeta Pass we headed down the Carter Dome Trail to the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail. This is the first time that Sarah and Sharon had repeated trails in their travels in the mountains. This was the way they had ascended Carter Dome in September. The trail looked much different in early summer.
The Nineteen Mile Brook Trail passes by a dam about a mile and quarter from Rte 16. I have passed by here many times and I have never climbed down the bank to stand on it. We climbed down and I was surprised how deep and clear the water was above the dam. The pool looked totally inviting to jump into if the water wasn’t so dang cold!
At the end of the trail the car was waiting right where I left it. We all took off our boots and put on our summer shoes–sandals or Crocs. Ten miles behind us felt good.
I look forward to taking the golfing gals out hiking again soon.
Have fun.

Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at: amy@weirs.com.


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