Date Hiked: 01 June 2014
I attempted a traverse of the five Wildcat peaks last year with my friends Michael and John. It was the first time I dragged them out of the office and into the mountains. The weather was overcast and cool, Michael started the day by falling into the Ellis River, and I hit a time deadline that stopped us from getting to Wildcat peaks A and B. Needless to say, they were hooked. I decided that I would return to Wildcat Ridge in order to get Wildcat A, a New England 4000 Footer.
For the second day in a row I found myself hiking up the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail toward Carter Notch. Things were different this time, the trail was drier and at the Carter Dome Trail junction I stayed on Nineteen Mile Brook Trail. Soon after the junction the trail crossed the brook a couple of times and then left it, heading for the higher ground of the notch between the Wildcat Mountains and the Carter Mountains.
It was 3.5 miles from the parking lot to the junction with the Wildcat Ridge Trail, but it went quickly. I only saw two small groups of people on the way up. I stopped at a small clearing of illegal campsites at the junction and had a Clif Bar and meditated. The sun shone brightly through gaps between tree branches while small birds flitted around me.
After the quick break I made my way up one of the steeper trails in the White Mountains. Right after the junction the trail started the steep climb up to Wildcat A. It gained 1050′ over 0.7 miles, a hefty climb. I stopped at the infamous slide on the trail to remember the stories of people slipping and falling on the section of the trail from Peak Experiences by Carol Stone White. The trail switchbacked a few times (rare in the White Mountains) and I was soon at the summit and vista overlooking the Carter Mountains.
At the vista I saw the guy from my Carter Loop hike the day before who was trying to complete the New Hampshire 48 4000 Footers before moving back to California in a few weeks. He was just getting ready to hike back down, so I soon had the summit to myself. After taking a few photos of Carter Notch and the hut below, I stashed my pack in the woods and dashed over to Wildcat B.
Since I was wrapping up the Wildcat Mountains, I decided I should get Wildcat B as well. It was a short hike over to it and like the other Wildcats and Carters it was a forested summit. The trees were wide enough apart to squeeze between, so I bushwhacked until I had a partially unobstructed view of Mount Washington, my only real view of it the whole weekend.
I hoofed it back to Wildcat A to find it still without hikers and my pack untouched. I repeated my new ritual that I began the day before and stripped of my wet shirts, replacing it with a dry one, and taking off my shoes and socks so they could all dry a little. I cooked up an early lunch and meditated for a second day in a row on a mountain top immersed in nature.
After 40 minutes of solitude and beautiful mountain scenery with sun shining on my face, I packed up for the trek back to my car. On the way down Wildcat Ridge Trail I met a guy and a dog. The dog greeted me first while the man took a short rest further down the trail. His dog was on her 5th repeat of the New Hampshire 48 4000 Footers and he was wrapping up his 19th by hiking the Wildcats that day.
I cruised the rest of the way down the Wildcat Ridge Trail and Nineteen Mile Brook Trail, passing many groups of people heading up. As nice as the hike was, it was the third time in two days I had passed some of the terrain, so I didn’t take my time.
Before practicing meditation, we see that mountains are mountains.
When we start to practice, we see that mountains are no longer mountains.
After practicing a while, we see that mountains are again mountains.
Now the mountains are very free. Our mind is still with the mountains,
but it is no longer bound to anything.
—Thích Nhất Hạnh
Elevation Gain: 2946′
Distance: 9.0 miles
Book Time: 6:00
Actual Time: 5:00
Temperature: 37° F
“Peak Experiences: Danger, Death and Daring in the Mountains of the Northeast.” amazon.com. Amazon.com, Inc. Web. 10 June 2014.
“Steepest trial in the Whites?” mountwashington.org. Mount Washington Observatory. Web. 10 June 2014.