Was this déjà vu? Was I at the Tough Mudder again? I was heading up a ski slope, it was muddy, there was some snow, and I was wet. No, wait; this was a 4000fter with dad. This time I was heading up Wildcat D and I was wet because it was raining. It wasn’t the best of conditions but my experience at Tough Mudder made it much easier to deal with. Dad wasn’t enjoying it as much as I was. I guess he should have done Tough Mudder.
We decided that with the wet weather we were going to head up Polecat ski trail to get to the summit. I am not a huge fan of heading straight up a mountain but I figured that since Polecat was an easy ski trail that it wouldn’t be too bad. Truthfully, the trail really didn’t get muddy until we got higher up on the mountain where there was still some snow. Yes, it is mid May and there was snow. Not only was there snow on the ski trails but we would encounter snow later on along Wildcat Ridge. The way up was pretty uneventful and there were very limited views across the way to the Presidentials. In fact, when we got to the observation tower we could see a whole lot of nothing. This is always disappointing. You work so hard to summit these mountains and you hope for some views. Instead we were in the clouds.
There was no reason to hang out at the summit of D so we headed along Wildcat Ridge with A being our next goal. The trail turned icy now and it was time to put on some Yaktrax. The map of Wildcat Ridge can be deceiving. It doesn’t look like it is going to be difficult or take a long time but when you add snow, ice, wet rocks, wet roots, mud, and rain things tend to take a little bit longer. We had to cross C and B (which don’t count as 4000fters) to get to A. When we finally reached Wildcat A we were rewarded with a view down to the Carter Notch Hut. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see the summit of Carter Dome. It was also very windy so after getting some pictures we headed back into the trees to eat lunch.
On the way back the sky really decided to open up and it poured on us for a while. I was really hoping that those thunderstorms they said might pop up didn’t come. It would not be good to be walking down exposed ski slopes with lightening. Right before we got back to D the rain let up. Suddenly the clouds were lifting. At the observation tower we were able to see the northern Presidentials and the ravines on Washington. I managed to convince dad to head down a different ski run in hopes that the clouds would lift up and over Washington. Sure enough my prediction was correct. There were still higher level clouds but Mt. Washington was fully exposed in her grandeur. We suffered through pouring rain but in the end we got a view that we had only seen in pictures. To top of the trip I got dad to go down a black diamond. Right near the bottom a turkey caught me off guard and scared the wits out of me. As she flew away she revealed her eggs. I stayed back, zoomed in with my camera, and got some pictures.
If a company ever really wanted to put their 3 season gear to a test in New England I think mid May is a great time. I was anxious to finally take out some of my new 3 season gear to test out. The biggest test was my new Merrell Outbound GTX boots. They encountered just about everything along the way and my feet were super happy. Before the hike I had worn the boots to school one day as a break in period. I think I might have been able to wear them right out of the box on this hike if I had to. The other gear I was really excited to try out was my Black Diamond Z Poles. I first saw these poles at the Nor’easter last fall and couldn’t wait until they came out for sale this spring. They are nice and light weight. The part I like the best was how compact they get to store away when I wasn’t using them. I put them in the side water bottle pocket and strapped them down. I totally forgot for a while I even had them with me.
42 down, 6 more to go. See you next time.