The Carter Range is located east of the Presidential Range, running northeast from Pinkham Notch into Maine. It is one of the highest and most massive of the White Mountain ranges, ranking behind only the Presidential, Franconia, and Twin ranges in elevation and interest to hikers.
Our plan was to come in on the 19 mile brook trail, go over all of the Carters except Carter Dome, and spend the night at IMP shelter. I have done this exact trip once before and didn’t have much for views, so I was both excited for RB’s NH48 finish, and to hopefully get some great views on the ridge. I wasn’t sure if IMP shelter would be full or not, I’ve been reading AT through hikers are coming into the whites in droves right now due to their early starts, so I did bring a tent just in case.
We had some rain on Friday night into the morning, but decided to head out once it had ended. We saw some much needed trail rebuilding on the 19-mile brook trail, and finally reached Zeta Pass. From there we joined the Appalachian Trail northbound. The hike over South, Middle and North Carter is grueling but not much for elevation change. We could see the weather coming towards us from across to the presidential ridge, and soon lightning was happening all around. Just about 20 minutes before reaching the IMP cutoff trail the rain starting falling hard, and we arrived at the shelter quite soaked. It’s a very eerie feeling being high on a mountain when storms come through. We met a AT South-bounder calling himself Lorax resting at the shelter. We chatted with him, pumped some much needed water from the spring, made some dinner and went to sleep almost immediately. The next morning after breaking camp we headed out of IMP, up to Mt. Moriah. We saw two snow hare on the IMP shelter cut-off trail. The trail was muddy and the slab sections presented challenges, but after about 90 minutes we made it to the top and had a celebration. The hike out was uneventful, still lots of slick rock slabs and some very muddy sections to navigate until descending over Mt. Surprise where the trail mellows out considerably.
On long hikes like this it’s so much easier to carry 1 bottle of water and a pump filter, to treat water I find along the way. My current filter is the
Katadyn Hiker Pro. It is field serviceable and hasn’t let me down, even after pumping from some less than ideal water sources. We found water at Zeta Pass and a roaring spring due to the rains at IMP shelter.
Overall hike stats:
Elevation Gain: 4,576 feet
Elevation Loss: 5,267 feet