Sunday September 4, 2022
Start: Carter-Moriah TH, Gorham
End: Glen Ellis Falls TH
Miles: 16.9 (+11.05 bike shuttle to close the loop)
Elevation gain/loss: 8219’/7093
After a late night out on the Pemi, I looked at the Mt Washington weather and decided a Presi Traverse wasn’t in the cards. It was predicted to be socked in by clouds, with poor visibility and severe thunderstorms in the afternoon. So I decided on a route that matched miles and gain but stayed below treeline.
I headed out at 7:30am for Glen Ellis Falls TH, and was on my bike heading for Gorham by 9am. I started my hike from the Moriah TH at 10am. The initial 4.5-mile climb up Moriah was the hottest and most challenging point of the entire day, with my tired legs complaining the whole way.
There were some good views earlier in the day but clouds descended as the day progressed. There were some small rain showers but it held off from any substantial precipitation, though the rocks were slick with humidity. The water sources on the ridge were worse than usual, with one steady source reduced to one small muddy 4″ pool. The humidity continued but the overall temperature dropped as I hiked, making it a bit more pleasant. I crossed paths with a number of thruhikers and only a few day hikers.
After the Carters, I didn’t stop at the hut, but kept pushing on, eager to get up and over my last major climb. I’ve never climbed Wildcat from this side but it was less steep than my memory of descending it in winter. I tagged the summits and then started descending Wildcat/AT as the light began to fade. I’ve only climbed up the AT to Wildcat once, back in 2015; since then, I’ve climbed it in winter multiple times, always using the ski trails to access the summit. The trail was definitely steep and rocky, and on par with more difficult White Mountains trails like Wamsutta but it clearly receives more attention than most. There were stairs cut into the rock and steel rebar steps/hand holds on slab, making it a challenging but more moderate descent. It felt much easier than the first time I climbed it, but I also have 7 more years of experience hiking the Whites to provide contrast.
Just shy of the parking lot, I had to cross Ellis River in the dark. I was glad of the lower water conditions because it made the crossing smooth, with a few big rock hops. I could see it being very challenging in high water seasons.
I arrived back at my car a little before 8pm. I helped someone figure out a place nearby to camp (Dolly Copp) and then chatted with them for a bit. As I changed clothes, I saw a lot of lightning and heard a storm coming in, and was glad to be back at my car before the rain arrived.