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.

14 comments:

beth said...

have a great time !!
got your camera packed ?

Loveanewidea said...

You are indeed a brave soul! I wish you well, and hope we get to read about your adventures on your blog when you get back.

KaHolly said...

That sounds a little more comfortable. I hope the weather is with you. I cross-country skiied for the first time today (NOT a winter person) and I can see why you enjoy being out there in the winter. Have lots of fun and be careful. Looking forward to hearing all about it. karen

Kallen305 said...

I too am like you and need to empty my bladder when nature calls. I would have done the same thing.

Despite the environmental challenges, it sounds like a lot of fun. I can't wait to read all about it.

I hope you have a great time!

Larry said...

Is that near where the old Indian Head used to be? I vacationed briefly with my family in that area.-Sounds very nice-wish that I took the time to hike there.

Beth said...

Beth, I hope to take it, I will be disappointed if I decide against it--I don't have a good case for it and am kind of worried about precipitation.

Loveanewidea, thanks--not so brave, but thanks :-)

KaHolly, I'm glad you got out on x-c skis today, it is a wonderful way to get exercise and to get out into the woods.

Kallen, Thanks, I'm so excited I bet I don't sleep tonight!

Larry, not too near--Indian Head is in Franconia Notch which is the western area of White Mountain National Forest, I'll be on the eastern edge--but it's all beautiful! If you get another chance, hike the Indian Head trail--it's a winner!

beckie said...

Beth, i would guess hiking in the winter, sleeping with no heat and no near bathroom is something you are born into. It has to be in the genes. I can't imagine any other way some one would do that. :} But I do wish you well, have lots of fun, breath the fresh air, and see lots of nature's beauty.

SJ said...

Glad to see that you have your pink snowshoes and V8 packed.

Beth said...

Beckie, I don't know about being born into it--my gene pool is all from deep Dixie, but somewhere along the way I acquired the taste. It's a beautiful sort of suffering--somehow perhaps more enjoyable in the re-telling.

SJ, I cannot contemplate venturing out without my pink snowshoes and a V-8.

KGMom said...

Hmmm--first I was contemplating the colorful place names. Then I contemplated the freezing temps and going to the bathroom OUTSIDE in the middle of the night.
Well, all I can say is--more power to you. Enjoy your hike!

mon@rch said...

Enjoy your trip . . . sounds like a fun one!

Jayne said...

I still think you are one of the bravest people I know Beth. The mere thought of spending a night like that makes me shiver sitting right here! I am such a lightweight!! Have fun and be safe.

Katie said...

Have fun! I've hiked that trail a couple times in the summer and fall. I used to know the caretaker there. (His name was Hawk?) Don't they also have an ice cave that store their perishables in year around?

Sharon said...

Beth, praying for a safe trip for you and your friend.

Thank you for the picture! I have been reading 'When Women and Mountains Meet,' so I'm discovering all the notches and mountain names.

BTW, you and your friend are joining a wonderful list of women to scale those areas. Blessings on your day,