Member Trip report
Mt Moriah and the Carters Hike
Trip Report/Photos from shep5
On Saturday, March 31st, I headed up to the White Mountains to hike the Carter-Moriah Ridge. I arrived at the Stoney Brook Trailhead on Route 16 at about 6:40AM. I got ready and just after 7AM, I started up the trail, which immediately crossed the brook. It was chilly with clear skies. The sun hadn't yet risen over the ridge. The trail was well-packed and even though I was carrying my snowshoes, microspikes were more than adequate for traction.
I reached the second brook crossing a few minutes later and the trail continued on a modest climb. By 7:30 I reached the third crossing. This crossing lacked a bride and required hoping across icey rocks. Still it wasn't too difficult. Shortly after this point the trail joined an old forest road and followed this for a good distance up the valley. At 7:40, the sun finally breached the ridge and by 8:20 I made it the final brook crossing. This one was still bridged over by snow. After this point the trial steepened considerably up to the ridge and I reached the trail junction with the AT (Carter-Moriah Trail) about an hour later. I immediately turned north on the AT. The trail quickly emerged out on an open ledge with cliff views and expansive views into the Wild River Wilderness. As I ascended, the views kept getting better as the Carters and the Presidential Range came into view. It was quite magnificient with the crystal clear blue skies! I reached the summit of Mount Moriah (4049') at 10:20 and was surprised that there was someone already there. We chatted a bit and after taking in the panoramic views, I headed back down about 10 minutes later and re-traced my steps back to the junction with the Stoney Brook Trail, where I arrived again at a little after 11AM.
I continued south on the AT, as the trail was broken out and easy to follow. There were wonderful views of the Imp and Carters from ledges along the way. When I reached the spur trail for the Imp tentsite, however, this was where the broken-out trail ended! It appeared that people had come up to camp, but didn't go any further since the last snowstorm. I had done this section many times, so I decided to continue. It wasn't long before I was post-holing alot, so I stopped and changed over to snowshoes. This helped alot, but I was still sinking into the deep snow at times and my pace became slow. I reached the flat landing in the col just prior to the very steep climb up North Carter Mountain at 12:50. I took a quick lunch break here, since I knew what was ahead of me. This portion of the trail immediately steepened and between the steepness and breaking the trail, my progress slowed to a crawl. In almost an hour, I finally climbed to a point where I was getting fantastic views back towards Mount Moriah. The trail became even steeper as it climbed up a number granite ledges. I had done this in the past in winter conditions and luckily the trail was covered in a good snow pack instead of the ice that I had encountered before. I was able to get decent traction with my snowshoes, but even still I had to pull myself up with the trees along the trail and at times (where there were no convenient trees) I was on all fours crawling up very slowly with very deliberate steps. I finally made it back into the comfort of the woods by 2:40PM, but there was still some steep portions, which I had to navigate until finally I popped out onto the summit of North Carter Mountain (4530') at nearly 2:50PM. Unbelievably it had taken me roughly 2 hours to hike less than a mile! Anyway, I made it under less than ideal conditions and I immediately began to descend the south side of the summit. As this peak doesn't count on the lists, the trail was still unbroken and I trudged through the snow for another 15 minutes, when I reached the trail junction with the Imp/North Carter Trail.
Now back on a packed, well-used trail, I changed back into my microspikes. Wow, this felt good and as I continued southward, my pace again quickened. It had become partly cloudy during the afternoon, but there were still wonderful views into the Wild River Wilderness and over to the Presidential Range. I reached the summit of Middle Carter Mountain (4610') by 3:35 and as daylight was burning I pressed on. I descended the summit and after reaching the col began my final climb up to South Carter (4430')...summiting the peak at 4:30. The summit was just off the trail in a little clearing and there was a downed tree laying across the cairn. I also took in the view of Mt Hight and Carter Dome from a nearby spur trail, before starting down. On the descent there was plenty of blowdown along this section of trail. Still I made it to Zeta Pass and the trail junction with the Carter Dome Trail at 5PM. Turning down this trail and hurrying my pace, I reached the junction with the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail at 6PM and finally emerged out of the woods at the trailhead on Route 16 just before 7PM. As I had parked 5 miles down the road, I began to walk back. I had hoped to run into other hikers on the Carters and had seen none and there was noone at the trailhead. So much for hoping for a ride! I started walking and thumbed periodically for a ride. Luckily, a fellow hiker stopped after I had walked about a mile and he was gracious enough to give me a lift to Stoney Brook Road (he had hiked Mt. Washington that day).
It was quite an adventure...tiring for sure...but the views were amazing throughout the day. As tough as it was, the sections approaching Moriah from the south and the trail up to North Carter provided magnificient views. Despite some wind and clouds in the afternoon, it was a spectacular outing!
Total distance and elevation gain: 16.5 miles with approximately 4980 feet in cumulative elevation gain.
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