Friday, January 30, 2009
Heading to the Notch
Tomorrow, I'm heading into Carter Notch in New Hampshire's White Mountains. The trail we will take from the road is called the Nineteen Mile Brook trail and while the trail is not 19 miles but a mere 3.9 it does follow along a pretty little brook called Nineteen Mile Brook. I am very excited. This will be the first time that I've gotten into the mountains this winter and the trail is one of my favorites. It is a popular one and by the time my hiking buddy and I meet at the trailhead at 9 a.m., I expect the trail will be well packed for our snowshoes.
Carter Notch is tucked away between the Wildcat Range and the Carter Range just to the east of Mt. Washington. The picture on the right was taken on an ascent of Carter Dome in September. If you look hard you can see the green roof of the hut in the Notch far below us. The hut will be our destination tomorrow.
A few years ago, I hiked into the hut with Archie and two of his ice climbing buddies. We planned to spent three days and two nights and somehow managed to choose the coldest two nights of the winter. The hut is unheated except for a woodstove that is only lit at night. In the main hut building with the wood stove, there are tables and a propane cook stove and hikers can cook their meals but to sleep, you must venture from the woodstove and go to one of the bunk houses which have no heat and no insulation. That year that I hiked in with the boys, there were no other people there except the caretaker who had his bunk in the building with the wood stove. The boys and I claimed our bunks and laid out our sleeping bags and shivered. I don't think I slept at all the first night but was somewhat comforted by the snores of the 3 teenage boys who apparently have metabolisms like furnaces. I have never been that cold and of course in the deepest darkest part of the night I had to go to the bathroom. I tried mind games, I tried counting sheep but all I could do was imagine the filling of my bladder. Finally, I could stand it no more and got out of my down bag, put on my clothes including hiking boots and crampons for the trip to the outhouse. It was a long night and you can be sure that the following evening I drank no liquids. Honestly, though, that frigid adventure with the ice climbers is one of my fondest memories and one made extra special because I shared it with my eccentric, knows-no-limits son.
But tomorrow, I am heading up the Notch with a new hiking friend and we won't scale any high peaks, we are just hiking along the brook to the hut, we'll eat our lunch and we'll head back and be home in time for supper.