Mt. Carrigain (4680)
Trail: Signal Ridge Trail
Date: Sunday 10/7/2001
Attending: Gabe, Simone, John Chicoine, Gary & Pete Gilchrest, & Shawn White
Miles: 10 Time: 7+ hours total.
AMC huts, / shelters / camping site:
Weather: Partly cloudy, 35 to 45. Snow flurries.
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” John Muir
What a wonderful crew to hike with and possibly no better day of the year to do it on. The temps were comfortably cool and the foliage was at full peak. Mt. Carrigan is one of the finest in the Whites and it’s located just about right in the heart of it all. Today was a day of extreme contrasts between the bright sun shining through the clouds, the spectacular snow squalls scattered throughout the entire mountain range, and the stunning bright colors of the peak fall foliage on the mountain sides. It’s no doubt that we were standing in the midst of some of God’s finest work.
So this is what is meant by Genesis 1:31 “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”
looks like homeless bums hanging out at the base of the tower.
The trail starts 2.5 miles down Sawyer road off of Rt.16 just north of the center of Bartlett. (Side note! Bartlett has no gas available! Bear Notch road is 27 miles to the nearest gas or you can fill up 6 miles southeast on Rt. 16.) The first 1.7 miles of this trail is easy flat hiking along an old access road. There are a few river crossings that are of no consequence at low water but some of the river crossings didn’t have pronounced riverbanks so I suspect they could flood wide areas at high water. At 1.7 miles the more serious hiking begins and doesn’t let up for the next 2.5. Although I can’t say there are any particularly steep sections on this trail, I wouldn’t say that this is an easy hike. The trail maintains a steady strenuous assent up to the open ridge ½ mile from the summit. This trail has a unique 1-mile long section of birch lined trail. This entire stretch of trail is cut like one long stair step up the side of the mountain with the white birch trees on the down hill side of the trail. The open ridge is mostly flat for ¼-mile with the last ¼-mile ascending steeply through a protected wooded stretch.
The Summit of Carrigain would be a wooded summit if it were not for the man made clearing where there is a wonderful lookout tower that offers some of the best views in the Whites. In the last wooded section of the hike just before the summit there are several very nice tenting sites. But for my money if I were to pack a full overnight pack up this close to the summit I would be very tempted to sleep on the deck of the tower.
Despite the awesome views, one of my most memorable moments of this hike was seeing the expression on Shawn’s face when a Gray Jay zoomed in over his shoulder and landed on his outstretched hand to snatch up his offering of trail mix. Shawn had never before heard about the feeding habits of the grays. There seemed to be lot of such moments for all of us on this hike. The sites were absolutely awe inspiring. The tower was an indescribable treat. Hiking in the snow squalls added another memorable aspect to this adventure. Gabe couldn’t resist the opportunity to show off to Pete and did a full immersion into one of the pools in Sawyer brook. (At the time, the temps had noticeably dipped to into the 30’s.) Gary encouraged Gabe with an offer of a Snickers bar if he went through with the swim.
Of Course, Gary didn’t actually have a Snickers bar on him at the time. (A point that Gary neglected to mention.) but he did bring Gabe his reward the next time we got together.
On the drive home Scar Ridge had never looked so beautiful. The Snow Squalls had painted a fresh coat of white powder onto the hills like a sprinkling of powdered sugar onto the deep rich greens of the pines and the vibrant reds and yellows of peak foliage season. Simply breath taking and well deserving of a few pictures if we hadn’t used up all the film already. All things I’m sure we will all fondly remember for a long time to come.
Another part of this trip I hope I remember is the ride home. For future reference: Never attempt another hike on Columbus Day weekend that requires a drive on the Kanc on late Sunday evening. It took 5 hours to get home retracing the drive that only took 3.5 hours in the AM.
Till next time! *** May God Bless ***
This was #’ 42 for Simone and I, # 40 for Gabe.