After the hike up Washington the previous day I was set for a more relaxed hike up the Carters. Everyone arrived at the campground the previous evening and we divided up into two cars, each with 3 people and 1 dog for the drive over to Nineteen Mile Brook trailhead. We started up fairly slowly, I could feel my sore legs and needed to stretch them out as we began. We stopped next to the brook for a water break just before hitting the Carter Dome trail. Soon we began the climbing, crossing a major stream then hitting a series of switchbacks that gain a lot of elevation. At one we heard someone yelling up above, and it sounded a bit like "Help". A few of us took off up the trail at a fast clip, but we never found anyone in trouble.
We all gathered at Zeta Pass and made some plans. There wasn't much water, there being a drought this year. Mary decided to go directly to Mt Hight, more on this later. The rest of us (Jeff, Cheryl, Michell, and Erik) went up to South Carter which was Erik's final 4000'er. We ran up ahead so we'd be there to celebrate his arrival. He arrived right behind us and finished up his 4000'ers! Hazzah! We tried to get a photo of everyone and the dogs, but they were too tired to pay attention to the photographers. We ate lunch and took a bit of a rest, but we had more to do. Erik, Mary, and Midas the dog were headed for Mt Hight to collect Michelle, while Jeff, Cheryl and I went over to bag Middle Carter for Cheryl's list.
As we headed down and across the ridge we ran into a USFS backcountry ranger patrolling, plus a few more peakbaggers. There are some nice views of Mt Washington and the Presidentials along the way, unlike the climb up to South Carter. It's a very pleasant hike, and the skies had really cleared up from the rain of the morning. We actually had to put on sunglasses. We hit the summit (#30 for Cheryl) and had another bite to eat. There's not much to see on the summit, except for once nice view into Maine. The trip back to Zeta Pass was a blur of hot weather, occasional views, and bad puns. We met Erik and Kije at the pass where he told us that Michelle wasn't on Hight, she must have turned around and headed down. Something in the back of my mind said she might have gone to Carter Dome by mistake, but the moment passed and I forgot about it. Erik and Kije took off at full speed to catch up to to Michelle before she reached the trailhead. We waited at the pass for Mary and Midas to return, and they arrived in 5 minutes. Finally we headed down at a fairly brisk pace. At the major stream crossing Jeff and Cheryl took off, I waited for Mary who was a few minutes behind. While we let her dog rest in the stream, who should arrive but Michelle!
She had indeed gone to Carter Dome, missing the loop trail that goes over Mt Hight. Oh well, aside from Erik probably panicing down below, no damage was done. We drank our water and marched out, many peaks having been bagged. At the trailhead, Jeff and Erik were gearing up for a search and rescue mission that fortunately wasn't needed. They seemed very relieved. After soaking our feet in Nineteen Mile Brook we bought food in Gorham and retired to the campground for dinner, beer, and Persied meteor watching. How better to celebrate finishing the 4000'ers?
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