02 01 2016.

hiking: carter dome + mt. hight

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Darren and I hiked Carter Dome three days after returning from Iceland. Still riding the excitement from the Fimmvörðuháls Pass hike and Glymur, we really wanted to get another hike in as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, Darren ended up sick during our last day in Iceland and I was just exhausted. Combine the two and it sounds like a recipe for disaster. So did we end up hiking? Of course we did.

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The Carter Dome hike starts where our Wildcat hike ended – the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail Parking lot. The Nineteen Mile Brook Trail (NMBT) was probably our favorite part of hiking Wildcat – since it made for a beautiful and rather easy descent.

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Going up it is a completely different story. Something about it felt really long. (After all, it is 3.6 miles.) We passed a little bit of a construction site. I’m not sure exactly what was going on – but it looked like a new bridge was being built downstream from the current bridge (which was really just a few planks going across the brook). I can imagine on wetter days/seasons, the river would be high and the planks would be more dangerous to walk across.

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By the time we reached the fork for Wildcat A or Carter Dome, we were starving. We decided to take a short Clif Bar break, took our packs off, and rested against a large rock. A burly hiker approached us, having just finished Carter Dome – about to descend down the NMBT. Mind you, it was barely 10am at that point – he must have had quite an early start to have hiked over 6 miles at that point.

We discussed our goal of hiking the 4,000-footers (original, right?) and he shared his progress with us. Ultimately, his goal was to get both of the Wildcats that day as well, but he decided that he’d save them for another day.

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Parting ways after our nice discussion, we veered left onto the Carter Moriah Trail, passing the beautiful Carter Lakes. Only 1.2 miles to the summit of Carter Dome. After the snack, I started to feel more alive and was in a much better mood. (Being “hangry” is a real thing.)

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1.2 miles of up, up, up. Very reminiscent of the Wildcat ascent. This section was particularly steep. Even if we hadn’t been so tired/sick, this hike would have been difficult.

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There were some gorgeous outlooks on the way to the top where we could look over the lakes and across the way to the Wildcats. We were also lucky that we had such a beautiful day to hike.

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Finally reaching the summit of Carter Dome was a relief. We were starving again but stopped only briefly to get a photo of cairn and moved on. The Carter Dome summit is wooded and has very limited views. Based on our research, we knew to expect better views over on Mt. Hight and the ridge-walking that we’d be doing in between.

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The journey over to Mt. Hight was much more eventful. These were the views that got us excited. The sky was a beautiful blue, the wind was slight enough to cool us down, and there was no view-blocking haze that’s common during the summer. Darren and I sat down to our usual hiking lunch of a PB&J and banana, readying ourselves for the descent.

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Which was long. Really long. 2.5 miles just to meet up with the NMBT. At one point, we figured that we must have made it on to the NMBT without realizing it since we had been hiking for so long! 20 minutes later, we finally converged and grumbled, knowing that we were way behind where our minds thought that we were.

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I honestly think that I would do this hike again. I love the challenge that the Wildcats and Carter Dome present – I’ve felt so accomplished every time I do them, I think this hike deserves a second chance on a day when I’m feeling better and my hiking companion isn’t sick!

Note to self. Don’t do a big hike while jet-lagged and recovering from vacation. But do – please do – this hike. (And don’t skip Mt. Hight!)

Overall:
Distance: 12.3 miles
Elevation: 4,833′ (Carter Dome) + 4,675′ (Mt. Hight)
Time: 5 hours


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