Cats, Carters, Moriah Traverse – 2018-06-16

Wildcats, Carters, and Moriah – 6x 4Ks in 24 hours…

As Ethan and I discussed a guys’ weekend out backpacking hike, we were working on determining just how much suffering we wanted to go through. I tossed out the idea of a Cats to Moriah traverse, and Ethan flung back a Pemigewasset Wilderness hike that would net us 8x 4Ks.

Prudence, if you can call it that, had us settle on the Cats/Carters/Moriah traverse with a stop over at the Imp Shelter.

This proved to be a tough Saturday, with a total of five 4Ks on day one and only one on day two.

Day 1: Cats & Carters – ~13.5mi – 6,423 ft elevation gain

We started the morning off by spotting Ethan’s car at Rattle River Trail’s parking lot and then driving over to Wildcat Mountain. We began at roughly 9am ascending Wildcat D, making great time and then shooting over to Wildcat itself.

From Wildcat “A” we descended to Carter Notch Hut, which is around 1,200 feet of tough, rocky descent in a pretty short distance.

The hut itself is lovely and features wind and solar power, has running potable water and new, clean bathrooms. We stopped for some food and water, tanked up and chatted with a New York native who was tackling the 4Ks about the differences between the Adirondacks and the Whites.

The climb up Carter Dome from Carter Notch was tough for me, which is a testament to a few things:

  • The difficulty of climbing nearly 1,500 feet in about 1.2 miles.
  • My cardio is not what it once was
    • I stopped doing Taekwondo, which was the reason it was so good last season
    • I was a bump on a log most of the winter
    • I have a new found desire to get it back where I feel it should be.
  • I didn’t sleep particularly well the prior night

Carter Dome is the 9th highest mountain in New Hampshire at 4,832 Feet, from there we headed over to Middle Carter via Mount Hight (which features one of the best views I’ve ever seen!) and then over to North Carter.

View from the Imp ShelterThe day was wearing on and I was wearing out. Ethan kept me going and kept tabs on my endurance. “Can you make it the last 4.7 miles?”, he asked. To which I replied “Nope. Let’s do it anyway.”

Here’s the thing I did not know about North Carter. It wants you dead.

Okay, that’s a little over dramatic, but wow, it was a brutal climb down when you’ve already done 10 hard miles and daylight is starting to run short.

Eventually we found the Imp Shelter sign, and it was the very longest 300 yards to the shelter I’ve ever walked. I was beat.

We spoke with and paid the shelter caretaker and then proceeded to set up our sleeping gear in the shelter, talk with a through-hiker, and cook some food. Not long thereafter we were sleeping. 5am arrived and the birds woke us, so we got up, made breakfast, repacked our gear and hit the trail not long after refilling our water bottles at the wonderful water source. I can’t speak highly enough about the Imp Shelter, it’s a wonderful spot with a majestic view.

Day 2: Imp Shelter to Moriah to Rattle River – ~8.25mi – 1,388 ft gain, 3,701 ft loss

This was (obviously) comparatively easy, with far fewer miles and much less elevation gain. We reached summit of Moriah around 9am and then headed down to the Rattle River trail, which ended up being a lovely way to end our long weekend of hiking. The last 2 miles were well kept and by far the easiest miles we hiked that trip.

We were ridiculously happy to have this behind us and welcomed the air conditioning of Ethan’s car before heading to get well earned shakes at Burger King in Gorham.

It was a tough, yet rewarding hike which I won’t soon forget. You learn a lot about yourself when you are faced with “the wall”. I’m very thankful I had a good friend along to help me break through that wall. We made great memories which will last for years to come.

4Ks #15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 complete!

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