Last weekend I had a couple of shoots reschedule at the last minute and found myself with a free weekend. With so few of these left between now and December, I thought maybe we could squeeze in one more backpacking trip. This time in the White Mountains. It dawned on me as we drove up to Pinkham Notch that although I had done plenty of hiking, I had never backpacked in New England before. The thoughts of the nice wide, clear, flat switchbacks of the West were quickly replaced with “crap, carrying a pack on New England trails is gonna suck.”. We had to do it sometime! Might as well do it now. I think if you want to get started in backpacking, do it in New England. It will make all the other places you go feel so much easier, ha! Our trails are UP UP UP and over, covered in rocks and roots.
We ended up staying at Carter Notch Hut. If you don’t know about the AMC Huts, you should definitely check them out. After a 3.8 mile hike in, we were greeted by JP. He is the spring season caretaker and he showed us where to refill our water and to sign up for a slot to use the kitchen to cook our meals. There is a common area with a wood stove, and that is where we spent most of our evening. When it came time to go to sleep, we headed outside to our bunkhouse just up the hill. It was freezing. Colder than if we had been in a tent! In the morning we went to cook our breakfast in the main hut and talked with other hikers about what they were planning on doing that day.
We originally went into this as a hike in hike out weekend. No crazy climbs were planned, we just wanted to get outside. Everyone was talking about how awesome Mt. Hight was, and of course that quickly became our Sunday plan. It was a gorgeous day, but the trail to Mt. Hight went through Carter Dome, which was like climbing up a frozen waterfall for maybe half a mile. That portion of the hike took us over an hour! Once we were at Carter Dome, it was smooth sailing down and up to Mt. Hight. The views of Mt. Washington were spectacular – there was no wind, which is CRAZY talk for White Mountain summits. We didn’t see another person all day.