Feb-Mar 2003
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Carter Notch Hike - March 22, 2003
Activity, report, and photos by Tom S.

We showed, we goed.

Tom getting ready to go

Annette and I had wanted a warm-up for Randy C's Tuckerman hike on April 6, so we thought that a trip to Carter Notch Hut would fit the bill.

The hike was advertised as a "Show and Go" because neither of us was prepared to lead a hike in the traditional GONewEngland way. Basically, we were going hiking and would welcome company.

Email response to this concept was positive, a number of people saying that they enjoy hiking in small groups or even solitude, but that it would be nice to know that others were hiking the same trail. Most, however, said that they could not make this hike.

So Annette and I arrived at the Joe Dodge Lodge (Pinkham Notch Visitor Center) about eight in the morning. We bought new WMNF parking stickers for our cars and had a bountiful breakfast. No one showed by about 8:20 and we left. We opted to start the hike with bare boots, but carried crampons. It was warm (about forty degrees) at the start, but it warmed rapidly.

We stopped for a snack break at the halfway point (the Carter Dome Trail junction), then crossed the bridge and marched on. A quarter mile later we crossed the second bridge, where the trail becomes steeper and stopped to put on crampons. We used Grivel 10-point adjustable crampons which go on easily and provide excellent traction. While we were putting on the crampons, a party of four Scouts from the Worcester area passed us. They carried large packs, intending to spend the night at the hut.

Annette on the trail

The rest of the trail was badly postholed where people had broken through the snowcrust and left boot sized holes two or three feet deep to either side of the trail. Annette and I kept to the center of the trail as much as possible, but still broke through every so often. I figured it would be worse coming back down.

Series of Cascades

Annette by a brook

The last quarter mile to the lip of the notch is extremely steep. About three-quarters of a mile from the lip is another steep pitch. Even though this part is less steep than the last part, I always think I am at the end. So we slogged our way up the steep trail, me thinking I was at the end, and bingo: the trail grew even steeper. Oh yeah, now I remember.

Then the wind picked up and we could see clouds blowing through the tops of the trees and I knew it was the end. And so it was. From the lip, we climbed down a quarter mile to the first pond. There was water on the surface and we were about to go around, when we saw the Hut caretaker, Mike, on the ice. "It's four feet thick," he said, so we took the short cut.

Carter Notch Hut

At the hut, we bought a cup of tea each, and sat at a table to enjoy our cheese and crackers. The four Scouts showed up (Annette and I had passed them on the trail), and then four other people. One was from Portsmouth, about two miles from where I live.

The Bunk House

Mike said that the hut was full that night (all forty bunks filled), but that really, winter was the biggest season, followed by summer. He said this past winter was the toughest of the last four he has spent up here. He said that daytime temps were typically in the minus twenties, but that the temperature dropped drastically at night. No wonder the ice was still four feet thick!

After a pleasant rest, Annette and I donned crampons and headed back down. As I suspected, postholing was much worse on the way back. The snow was softer (it was now in the mid-fifties) and footfalls on the trail were heavier when walking downhill.

We made it though, passing a number of groups coming up to spend the night. Two men were carrying their packs on a toboggan, and at the halfway point we met another, larger group of Scouts, these from Cape Cod. By now it was about three o'clock, and I wondered if they would get to the hut by dark.

On the way down, I noticed odd little piles of snow.

It took me a while to realize that they were the remnants of animal trails. Something had walked across the snow, packing the snow down in the tracks. Now as the sun gets warmer, the snow is melting, but melting all around those hard-pressed spots which now rise in little columns.

We marched on and finished the hike easily and jumped into my new hike-mobile (a black Ford Ranger) and headed for home. This morning I am very sore, most likely because I'm not used to wearing crampons, which requires that you lift your feet a little bit higher than normal. No worries, Mate. I'll be dinkum for Randy's hike. Maybe I'll do another warm-up next week.

Horn Pond Scavenger Hunt - February 1, 2003
Activity and report by Jan G.
Photos by Jen S.

Jen finds treasure nestled between the boulders

It has become a sort of "mission" for me to run easy and sometimes unusual activities for GONewEngland. This past Saturday's event was especially rewarding, because:
bulletIt attracted GONewEngland newcomers
bulletAlmost a foot of fresh snow made snowshoeing a blast
bulletI derived child-like pleasure from watching 3 adults on their hands and knees, digging in the snow for buried treasure--CANDY!!!


<-- Jen is the Queen of Scavengers

Reading the treasure maps

Jan G, Jen S, Shannon and Paul (newcomers) met at Horn Pond in Woburn, MA and drove over to the more secluded swamp trails nearby. Two weeks before, Barry and Jan had walked the trails and buried 8 boxes of candy in the snow. Each contained a different kind of candy, with notes explaining GONewEnglanders and directing any would-be early treasure raiders to check out the web site and to put the box back. Barry did an awesome job logging each treasure in his GPS, and he sent me wonderful maps to retrieve them. I wrote down clues, like "fallen log by bent birch." Two weeks' time and a few snowstorms covered all our tracks.

I know there's candy here somewhere...

Unfortunately for our crew, Jan does not have map-reading skills or a GPS, and had not written down clues like, "Take trail to right." However, they were all very patient with me, and it was a fine day for tromping in the snow, even though we sometimes had to double back. We were able to find all the landmarks but one, and sometime soon I hope to stumble across the ridge that holds the boulders that hold a box of Velamints! Jen was especially adept at finding treasure, but everyone found at least one.

People will do almost anything to get buried treasure!

Afterwards most of us went to a Chinese restaurant and got to know each other a little better.

Thanks to everyone who participated for a terrific time.

Golf course by Horn Pond