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Old 07-12-2014, 12:20 PM   #30
trob888
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Join Date: May 2008
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Re: On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA

Carter-Moraih Loop and a Presidential Traverse

I took a rest day in Littleton, NH after the Pemi Loop to treat a couple injuries. Iíd been using Littleton as kind of a base of operations while I was hiking the Whites. The first injury was a bruised, swollen knee from a fall while descending Bondcliff. I spent most of the day sitting by the Ammonoosuc River, soaking my leg in the cold water. The second ďinjuryĒ was a little more delicate, but nothing a little rest and a lot of Gold Bond couldnít fix. Iíd been growing tired of Littleton and was happy to be leaving soon.

The Presidential Traverse is a life-lister for many hikers, me included. Itís a little tricky with just one car if you donít want to pay to stay overnight somewhere when finished. I decided it would be best to park my car at the finish, take the hiker shuttle to another trailhead, do a short hike and camp at the base of the start of the traverse. For me this meant doing a loop in the Carter-Moriah Range and camping at the Osgood tent site, two and a half miles below the summit of Mt. Madison, the first summit of the Presidential Traverse.

The loop I chose in the Carter-Moriah Range was a little underwhelming. It started at the Nineteen Mile Brook Trailhead, and connected the Nineteen Mile Brook, Carter Dome, and Carter-Moraih trails, leading back down the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail. It takes you over Mt. Hight, which has spectacular 360 degree views, and over Carter Dome, which offers little to see. I think a better option for a loop in this range would be to hike up the Imp Trail, continue on the North Carter Trail, and hike the ridge on the Carter-Moriah Trial, summiting Middle Carter, South Carter, and Mt. Hight, before making your way back down via the Carter Dome and Nineteen Mile Brook trails. After that loop, if youíre planning on doing the Presidentials the next day, you have to make a short road walk up to the Great Gulf Trailhead and hike up to the Osgood tent site.

(Map of better loop, except include Mt. Hight)




Osgood is along the Appalachian Trail, so I shared the site with a handful of thru-hikers. I met a southbounder named Ramses whoíd been on the trail about a month. He was telling me about starting in Maine and how difficult it was. He had heard things begin to smooth out after New Hampshire and seemed eager to get to some easier terrain. Then he said he was tired of hiking on roots and rocks all day, and I had to agree. I decided then and there the next day would be the last I see of roots and rocks for a little while.

I hit the trail by 7am. The climb up the Osgood Ridge to Madison was tougher than expected and much windier. Osgood isnít the typical way to start a Presi Traverse, but it offers much better views and more exposure than the more traveled Valley Way trail. The wind was howling throughout most of the day. On the rocky sections of trail you could get in a groove boulder hopping, but every now and then a big gust of wind would come along and knock you off your path. The trail stayed rocky all the way over Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Clay, and Washington.






A lot of the early peaks were lost in the clouds so the views were a little obstructed. On a clear day I imagine itís pretty incredible, but perfectly clear days are few and far between. Most people I talked to gave me the impression this day was better than average. However, after Mt. Washington the sky opened up and I got an absolutely perfect afternoon of ridge hiking.

The trail after Washington is stunning. Itís a bald ridgeline for miles and miles up and over Monroe, Franklin, and Eisenhower. It was like the awesome ridge from the Pemi Loop on steroids. It is by far my favorite section of trail east of Colorado. Unfortunately, I had suffered some camera issues and I couldnít capture it.

My phone had been at 43% battery to start the day, which is plenty for a day in airplane mode. I used it to take some pictures early, without paying much attention to the battery. Next thing I know I pull it out to snap a few pictures and I get a 10% warning and Iím at 2% power. I had no idea how that could have possibly happened and I was pretty disappointed. Before I could even reach the Mt. Washington summit my phone shut off and wouldnít start up again. As soon as I got back to my car and plugged it in it powered on and said I had 33%. Apparently this isnít an uncommon problem. I just hope it's not a recurring issue.

(These arenít my photos)



As great as this ridge trail was, the terrain was even better, nice and smooth. I was cruising the rest of the day. The official Presidential Traverse only goes from Mt. Madison to Mt. Pierce, but most people add on Mt. Jackson (ironically not named for the president), and I did as well. If anyone decides to do a Presidential Traverse I strongly recommend adding Jackson. The views are great and youíll probably get there late in the day when they sun is low in the sky. Itís the perfect way to say goodbye to the Presidentials and the perfect way to say goodbye to the Whites.

Iím not exactly sure of the distance and elevation gain my hike was. I donít really like to keep track of things like that. I meet a lot of hikers that get caught up in numbers and become obsessed with them, and thatís not who I want to be. I think I hiked about 20 miles with over 8000 feet in elevation gain, and I knew for sure that I would need a rest day the next day. The rest of July is pretty up in the air and I don't know for certain where I'll be hiking next. I wouldn't mind seeing the ocean sometime soon.

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