Sunday, July 17, 2011

#47 & 48 Wildcats A and D September 11, 2010

#47 & 48 Wildcats A and D via Nineteen Mile Brook and Wildcat Trails and Polecat Ski Slope, September 11, 2010.  

Mileage: 9 mile traverse

Elevation gain: 2900'ish

Trailhead: Nineteen Mile Brook trail is located on Route 16 several miles north of the Mount Washington Auto Road (on the right heading north).  Polecat ski trail ends at Wildcat Ski Area which is several miles south of the Auto Road.

On September 11, 2010, I completed my 47th and 48th NH 4000 footers:  Wildcats A and D.

There is no significance in the date (I shared the summits with American flags) or in the choice of summits for my final peaks.

Hiked with Rich and my friend Sue. It was a warm, dry, sunny day.  19 Mile Brook Trail to Wildcat Cut-off, to Wildcat Ridge to A and D and then down Polecat ski trail.   Beautiful views. Flags on the 48 helped us know how close we were to Wildcat D (we could see the flag in the distance and kept heading for it).
In the fall of 2008, having seven or so NH 4,000 footers done, I decided to try to hike all 48 peaks. I set my goal for completion to be end of summer 2011.  The first two years I hiked in all sorts of weather.  Any day I could steal away to hike one on the list was a good day, no matter what the weather.  And, I never had to turn back before the summit.

Except  for one time.

Mid-May of this year, Rich and I decided to hike Wildcat A.  About .5 miles before the summit, after battling ice and snow, we simply lost the trail.  Standing in the middle of the forest with blowdowns on all sides (even the footprints we were following ended), a whipping cold wind, dark skies and few blazes, we had to turn back.  After so many successes, this trip left us feeling beaten: Wildcat 1; Us 0.

The summer, as we know, turned sweet with many beautiful hiking days and low river crossings.  As opportunity presented itself, I hiked.  All my presidential were done in beautiful weather with clear views (well, I did witness two thunderstorms).  Each peak bagged brought me closer to the day I would have to do battle with Wildcat A again. 

 It became larger than life.

So, on my last NH 4K peak day, I hiked that trail again.  

In summer the trail to the peak is dry, easy to follow and blowdown free (the trail crews work very hard on Wildcat to make this so).  

View from Wildcat A's overlook (summit is in the woods).
Wildcat Ridge trail has a lot of character (headed to Wildcat D).
I shared the summit with the volunteers who participate in the “Flags on the 48,” and enjoyed the ridge hike to Wildcat D where I celebrated meeting my goal on a beautiful day.

View of Mt. Washington from Wildcat Ridge trail.
Can you guess which hiker is celebrating #48?
Heading down Polecat ski trail.

I look forward to working on the Northeast 115 and New England 100 Highest lists in the future. 

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