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The Carter's... Got Snowshoes?

                Making a commitment to something takes guts sometimes. We commit ourselves to a lot of promises and some fall away. For me, I’ve committed to finishing off these winter peaks and I am fighting tooth and nail to do it. Between the weather, my own psyche, and time, I feel like I am up against a wall. This morning, I convinced myself to get going and get to the Carter’s again. Given last week’s turn back, I really wanted to get these three peaks. The roads at 5am were slick with black ice and this made me feel late. It seemed to take forever to get to the trail head at 19 mile brook. The Carter’s are by no means a favorite. They are not one’s that I go out of my way for and rather they are one’s that I get when I “need” them. Isis and I get ready and we are off down the trail. Snow shoes already on my feet to help keep the trail in good shape, 19 mile brook is well packed out as usual. It’s so well-traveled because of the hut that Isis and I make great time to the first junction. I am feeling strong today and seem to be having no problems that are going to hold me back by slowing me down.
                I look up the trail at the junction and smile because it is well broken out and looks easily traveled. A group heading to the hut and two guys from New York meet up with me at the junction as well. The guys from New York have never been to these peaks so, they have a few questions. I take off down the Cater Dome trail and leave them to their break. I hope that they can make it as they seem to be moving very slow and want to get over to the Imp trail. Isis and I continue to enjoy the ease of movement on the trail from everyone breaking it out over the week and begin to take on some of the elevation gain. The wind is not nearly as strong as was forecasted so, I am leaning towards a successful day. As is typical of Isis, if she see’s someone on the trail, she waits for them to approach and then we are able to keep moving. This time, it was Rick and Lisa from one of the posting groups on Facebook. We stop and chat for a while and then Isis and I move forward a little. She is not crazy about having them behind us so, I have them take lead and Isis begins moving again. We actually leap frog a few times and then Isis and I hit the switchbacks.
                At this point, the trail is still in great shape and we make our way over the switchbacks on our way to the next junction with the Carter-Moriah trail. Heading up, it seems like we are walking on ice cubes as the trees had shed their ice coating and it remained in pieces on the trail. We hit the next junction and stop for some food and a rest. Rick and Lisa catch up to us and chat for a while. The temps are great however, if you stand for too long, you do feel cold. Isis and I lead the way and because of the snow cover, we move quickly. Again, we leap frog a few times and Rick and Lisa actually make it to the summit of South Carter before we do. Isis and I took our time and especially on the approach up the inclines. Out of breath a little at the summit, we run into another guy who reported that he broke out until Middle Carter and we thanked him as that was our next destination. Dealing with the downs and remembering that we have to go back up them again, we continue walking on great trails. The views are impressive and the clouds are dramatic. We all take in the sights and are in awe. The trees that line the trail are frozen solid and glistening from the sun.

                As I pop out of the trees to an open area, I notice that the snow shoe tracks stop. The guy from South Carter did not make it to Middle after all, and looking down the decline, I see that the trail is drifted in. Looks like we have some breaking to do and thank goodness there are 3 of us. We make our way down and I take lead because of Isis. We break through the crust on the snow and continue making our way to Middle Carter. The extra work doesn’t matter to us as the views more than make up for things. We continue to move in and out of the trees and up and down in elevation slightly. Knowing how hidden the summit of Middle Carter is, we begin looking for the tree and watching the elevation on various devices. The experience of breaking out the trail is not difficult as the drifts are not large. We arrived at the summit is great spirits and congratulate one another. It is not long before we head back and make our way over the trail we just broke ensuring that it is well broken out. Dealing of course with the few sections of ascending trail, Isis and I take our time again and while we walk with Rick and Lisa, we are still on our own. Heading down from South Carter, we begin to run into the groups that met us at the first junction in the morning. They are still planning on going to Imp even though it’s not broken out but they are considering turning back the way they came.

                As Isis and I make our way back to the car, we again separate from Rick and Lisa and discover that our perfect trail from this morning is now covered in post holes. It’s enough to make me want to cry as this will slow us down tremendously. Deep post holes have the potential to twist or even break and ankle on the trail so watching the footing is key. I’m getting tired and making the best of a bad trail situation. We don’t spend a lot of time at the junction for the Carter Dome trail, just enough to get my breath and give my feet a rest. The post holes continue down the Carter Dome trail and only seem to improve where the trail is more tightly packed. At the junction for the 19 mile brook trail, Isis and I stop and are over run by a group from Quebec who are supposed to cross country ski to the hut and to their surprise, the trail is not skiable.  I chuckled knowing that the trails here are far from ski trails and wish them luck. As we are getting ready to head into the home stretch, Rick and Lisa catch up to us again we commiserate over the post hole situation. Isis and I move on down the 19 mile brook trail back to the car and again, make good time as this trail is still in good shape.

                Heading down one of the declines, we happen across a girl who has caught herself in deep snow off the side of the trail and she is struggling to get up again. I offer her a hand and Isis just wants love so, she is no help. Once on her feet, I recommend that she stay out of the deep snow without Snowshoes. She thanks me and we keep moving down the trail. With a plan to get carter Dome tomorrow, there is a need to get some rest before doing it all over again tomorrow and that means getting back to the car. At 4pm we hit the parking lot after starting at 8am so, it is a good day on the trails and I was glad to have met everyone that Isis and spoke with. It takes some kind of commitment to turn back around and do it all over again tomorrow, maybe even a little more commitment that it takes to do 48 mountains in winter or any season. I’m happy to do it though as it gives me something to focus on in a positive way. It gives me a chance to stretch my comfort zone and challenge myself. Making a commitment takes guts so, make sure you can come through with it.March is coming quick so we will see how successful I am…. 10 to go.  

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