Monday, February 28, 2011

More Adventures in the White Mountains

This weekend, Jaimee and I spent another wonderful weekend in the winter wonderland of the White Mountains. We stayed for two nights at Carter Notch Hut near Mt. Washington. We drove up on Friday and when we left Boston it was a hard rain that turned to snow as we progressed north. It took over six hours to drive there, more than double what it should take. This meant we got a late start hiking, leaving the trailhead at 4:15PM for the four mile hike to the hut.
We made good time on the slog up the Nineteen Mile Brook trail, but when we got to the top of the ridge, it was pitch black with a hollowing wind. Even with our headlamps on full blast we could barely see in front of us, and when we got to a trail sign that said the hut was 0.3 miles we were super excited. The problem was, with the blowing wind, there was no trail. Having never been to the hut before we didn't know that it sat just above two small lakes. All we found were the lakes, and as we wondered across the frozen surface we noticed that our tracks were blown away so it was impossible to backtrack. I'll skip to the ending in that we eventually noticed the lights from the hut, but I will say, I was very, very scared. The White Mountains are a dangerous place, especially in the winter, at night, in a blizzard. It was the first time I'd ever seriously contemplated activating the 911 feature on our Spot device, but luckily, we stayed calm, found the last bit of trail that we recognized by walking the perimeter of the lakes and were able to find the path people take in the summer. There was another sign at 0.1 miles from the hut and at that point we could see the warm glow of the hut.

Our two-night stay at the hut was fairly uneventful, except for a drunk person in our bunk room. We stayed in a six-person bunk house the first night and one of our bunk-mates threw up inside the room, multiple times. It's a pretty horrible sound to hear retching and then the sound of vomit hitting the floor. Luckily the room was about 10 degrees so the vomit froze and actually didn't smell. But the guy did cause some drama looking for the door, falling on ice, making all sorts of noise. The second night was less dramatic as we had the room to ourselves.

We climbed one 4,000 foot peak during out stay, Wildcat Mountain A, which was quite the hike. It's only one mile up to the summit but because we had to break trail through drifts of snow over four feet high it took us two and a half hours to get to the top and only 40 minutes to come down.
The hike out to the car was much easier than the way in, but we decided to just return the way we came on the Nineteen Mile Brook trail instead of out and over Carter Dome, another 4,000 foot peak in the area. We got back to our car, and although the car was fine, we'd left a Sigg water bottle full of water in the car and when it froze it broke the metal bottle! The weather and conditions of the White Mountains are not be taken lightly!

Other than our little weekend adventure, we've had more quality family time. We celebrated Jaimee's birthday with her cousin and meme, who all have birthdays within a few days of each other. I love this picture of the three of them blowing out the candles on the cake. Take away the smart phone on the table and it could be a Norman Rockwell painting:
We also got in a trip to Vermont to visit my Aunt and Uncle, where Jaimee and I pinch-hit for my Aunt (she hurt her knee and has trouble snow-shoeing) and led the wine and cheese snow-shoe tour at Grafton Ponds where she works. Much easier than hiking up Wildcat Mountain, this was a 45 minute hike through the woods to a waiting bonfire where they'd already brought up bottles of wine and blocks of cheese via snowmobile. We drank four bottle of wine between 10 of us, which made for an interesting walk back down through the woods. We've had an amazing snowy winter here in New England and we feel lucky that we've been able to enjoy it as much as we have.


  1. You two be careful out there in the snow and ice and lost trails. Don't make me worry out here in drizzly Seattle. Anyway glad you have a 911 feature but you don't want to ever have to use it! (ok enough of the mom voice). Love and miss you. Looks like a great b-day celebration. xoxo

  2. Thanks for your concern Sadie! Jaimee's dad already yelled at me (in a nice way) for putting Jaimee in danger. But it ended well, so we're focusing on that. We miss you too!


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