Ahhhh, Mom nature... Always playing with my plans. I had a nice 15 mile day planned for today. All the way out to Middle Carter and back again via Stoney Brook and the Carter Moriah Trails (AT)... It was my back door entrance to the Carter's that I have a love hate relationship with. I figured that the entrance from the other side would give me a new perspective on this range. But then... Weather happens.
Stone Brook Trailhead was surprisingly not full when I got there at 8:30ish but there was a fair amount of cars already there. Getting underway, you cross a bridge to start and the trail is decent. A nice little meander through the woods. Weather is cool and I've busted out my long pants, and heavier layer. I even put the gloves and hat back in the pack since well, we've had snow recently too. Making our way on the Stoney Brook Trail, we are passed by a large group of people but I keep to myself. They have a dog with them so we hang back as well. Crossing another bridge over a mini flume, the trail then widens out. I'm enjoying the walk. Then we reach an actual water crossing that has bogged down the larger group. Isis and I wait and I grab my poles. We crossed upstream a little where the level was low. My foot got a little wet but in my trail runners, it will dry even quicker.
After this water crossing, the trail continues to be wide but quickly shrinks and then starts climbing. I seem to be struggling a little and at that point I am going over my trip in my mind. Still determined to get the Middle Carter but open to altering plans too. I remind myself that we have plenty of day light despite the late start. Another smaller group comes up with some familiar faces in the crowd. Nice to officially meet once we got to a decent place to stop after a smaller water crossing. When they had initially passed, I was trying to feed Isis some treats so, Isis was a little mouthy. They continued ahead of me as I fed her once more successfully this time. Once underway again, this section has elevation and rocks to climb. I remind myself that this will all be down when we return... This helps me a little. I slow down. I breath and we keep going. there are several sections of rocky and watery gain and at a certain point, there is another, what I thought to be, solo hiker in front of us. We also ran into the Old Man and the Saw. Great to see him after almost a year I believe. Maybe longer. I caught up to the other solo and it turns out, she was with the larger group who initially passed me in the beginning. They left her as she was a slow hiker and I stayed close making sure she got up to the junction... Mind you I had words for the group as well as the trail and none we kind. You don't separate a group member for being slow. You hike to her pace. Separating is dangerous and while there were plenty of us on there trail today, what if that was not the case? Seriously people, common sense... There have been far too many rescues in these hills as of late. OK, I am off my soap box....
OK, prior to my tanget, I was climbing up Stoney Brook. At the top, where it flattens out, a skunk has made it smell pretty. Thankfully not on me or the dog... But that stuff lingers. At the junction, I bid the other hiker good luck and I also briefly thought of altering my plans to make sure that she was OK and made it to the summit where her group was waiting... But I also figured that if I did that, would open my big mouth too. I would not see them at all after I took the split to the Imp Shelter and beyond. As we hooked onto the AT, the weather looked to be turning as well. Showers were in the area and I was not thrilled with that. The Carter Moriah range in general is a bunch of slabs and rocks to climb and this section is no different. Add water and this is a recipe for disaster or a severely turn ankle. I began thinking of calling it at Imp Shelter for the day but figured I'd see when I got there. As we climbed and gained and lost some elevation, I remembered why I have this love hate relationship with this area. It takes a lot out of you to hike and I need to take is slow or I'll get really frustrated with myself. Isis and I come to a section that is a little more open and run into Bill R (Great to finally put a face to the name), who has come from where we are going. The trail ahead is wet.... No way around it just wet and probably getting wetter with rain coming in. I'll hike in the rain if I have to (as in the LT) BUT if I don't have to, I won't. So, the Carter's can wait and we'll try and beat the weather down to the car by turning at Imp Shelter. I'm not in the least bit sorry for this decision.
We come to several other open slabs as we make our way to the junction for Imp Shelter which is 300 yards off trail. I enjoyed several views of the surrounding area too. Who said you have to go to a summit to get a view??? We head down to the shelter and navigate wet rocks and trail. Everything is wet... But when we get down there, we chat up the caretaker Kristen who is from the West Coast. She's got the best job for the summer. We check out the area and the bench she had told us about. Isis and I take a seat and watch the clouds. We stop at the actual shelter and sign the book as well as find that several other hiker friends had stopped by last year... AT life. I so need to get back on trail for longer than a day (soon!). Then we bid Kristen farewell and begin our backtrack down to the car.
It's a slow and steady trek back but the .7 from the shelter goes by quickly. Once back at the junction, we running a group of 3 coming off Mt. Moriah. They were under the impression that I was red lining today... Well, maybe one long red line from Georgia to Maine broken into sections??? Regardless, here is where it started to sprinkle and we didn't stick around because of this. Knowing the rocks and things we were facing, I wanted to get as low as I could before the real rain came in. There were a few slips and falls and one turned ankle incident which resembled a kind of graceful crumple to the ground rather than something violent with any cracking or popping. My ankle was no worse off so, all it well... Just a little dirty. Around the water crossings, I put my pack cover on but did not use my poncho or rain hat. Isis and I got across the bigger crossing just fine but I could tell that the water level was rising. I laughed all the way back to the car as we got wet and Isis would shake off her fur every now and then. Today may not have been all that I intended it to be but I was still proud of Isis and myself. We got out and fought through some pretty big elevation gain with a full pack and got another section of the AT, no matter how small. Everything counts. I changed out of my wet cloths and used a blanket on poor wet Isis. The coffee today will be great to warm up.... And this is June??
When I initially started hiking my first round of the New Hampshire 48, I was in therapy (for reasons unrelated to hiking)... We had discussed my love hate relationship with Monadnock and I was told that in order to continue on the quest for the 48 to combat my depression and anxiety, I had to conquer Monadnock first... To do this, I needed to take a different trail up than the one that always trip me up. This was successful for me and well, the rest of the hiking miles speak for themselves. Today, I figured I'd do the same for the Carter's since I really had had rotten luck over on 19 Mile Brook Trail. So, I may have swore all the way up and down Stoney Brook, but I also successfully altered my opinion of the Carter Moriah Trail out to the Carter's. I can take this way again to get to them and have no issues. It's amazing what happens to someone if you just take another route and get a new perspective. Dreaded trails or situations in life even, become a little better... Still a challenge but maybe something you are better able to over come. I continue to be thankful for everything that hiking has brought me in this life. I'm stronger for all of it. One month or 3 hikes left before I leave for the final leg of my Long Trail adventure. I cannot wait to be back home again on the trail. Rain or Shine.
My gift on the way home... 115 a moose crossed right in front of my car and allowed me to take this picture. :)