Much to my frustration, I needed to wait to start snowshoeing up Wildcat until 8:30am when the ski slope opened and I could buy a trail ticket. They restrict access to business hours only, which meant burning 2 hours of daylight while I waited for them to open. Even more frustrating, because I had too much time on my hands, I managed to forget my backpack in the motel and didn’t realize it until I got to the ski resort so I had to turn around and go back. I started hiking by 8:45am.
I summited Wildcat after a while, having successfully avoided being killed by downhill skiers and boarders, narrowly in some cases. I’d rather dodge a snow grooming machine any day (the reason they give for not allowing climbing outside business hours). I threw on my snowshoes at the summit and headed over to the other summits of Wildcat.
At the end of the Wildcat summits, the footprints ended; I continued onward in 6 inches of untouched powder. Staying on trail was challenging and the sidehilling was really difficult. I fell off the monorail a few times and ended up in snow up to my waist. After maybe 45 minutes, I intersected with footprints from the hut, and it was much quicker going from there. I arrived at the hut and gratefully refilled my water bottles.
I then headed up Carter Dome in my snowshoes. The postholing was atrocious; so many bare booted noobs had gone up and down. And more noobs nearly ran me down as they carelessly butt slid down the center of the trail. I had to grab a tree and swing to put the tree between us. A few more people came through and then I shoved my way through and went up the trail section to get out of their way. It was beyond obnoxious. I cleared the dome, seeing a few handfuls of hikers, including a group of college kids (who I saw later).
From the summit, I headed over South and Middle Carter, and then took the spur out to North Carter. That final spur was even more narrow with tighter trees than any other section before; a tree tore a huge hole in my rain shell. I then quickly descended Imp trail, eventually popping out on the highway after dark. I then walked along the road to the 19 Mile trailhead, hoping to get service or a hitch back to my car, 3 miles away from the trailhead. The group of college students I’d seen on Carter Dome were just arriving back at the trailhead. The 5 of them, all jammed into a Honda Civic, acquiesced to my request for a ride. It took some shenanigans, but they figured it out.
Once I got back to the motel, I spent an hour rewarming my toes; they had been numb for most of the afternoon and evening, thanks to my Raynaud’s and the wet snow. Thankfully, they recovered nicely, though my left smaller toes were pretty beat up by my boots.