Last weekend I climbed two 4,000 footers, South and Middle Carter Mountains, in near perfect weather. I repeated that same route yesterday, but we added in two bushwhacks, one to Mt Lethe, and another on lower down on the mountain across the Cowboy Brook watershed.
Mt Lethe is not climbed very frequently, because it isn’t on any peakbagging lists except the obscure and challenging Trailwrights 72 list I am currently working on. The thing that makes this list so difficult, is that you can only count one peak per trip, making this a list for hikers who savor hiking and climbing a lot of mountains. Other lists let you bag multiple peaks per hike, which makes it easy to rack up a large number of peaks quickly if they all run along the same ridge, but the Trailwrights make you return to the same ridge over and over to bag each peak on a separate climb.
Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t as nice yesterday as it had been last weekend, but it could have been worse. We had low cloud all day, which obscured all of the views and added a chill to the air. The trails were mostly broken out although they were covered with a few inches of fresh powder. However, the snow on Mt Lethe was quite deep and required waist deep postholing. Still is was a very short bushwhack and didn’t take more than 30 minutes to do round trip.
If you ever want to bushwhack Mt Lethe, here’s a route that works: hike north of Middle Carter for about 10 minutes and the first peak you see to the northeast will be Lethe. Hike past it and around to its north side. The brush opens up here but use caution because there are cliffs a few feet to your left. After about 50 yards, there is faint evidence of a herd path through the trees to your right which lead to the highpoint, an open area filled with chest high krumholz. On a clear day, there should be views down into the Wild River Valley to the easy and the Northern Presidentials to the west.
From Lethe, we backtracked back to the Carter Moriah Trail and continued north, descending by North Carter Trail and the Imp Trail, before bushwhacking about a half mile back to the 19 mile trailhead where our cars were parked. This was a pretty straightforward whack through open forest, except for a stream crossing over the snow ledges at Cowboy Brook.
All in, a nice day with another strong Appalachian Mountain Club group. I’m starting to feel in pretty good shape for winter hiking finally, despite the lack of snow down south in the Boston Area, and have a couple of much bigger climbs coming up in the next few weeks, including some tough bushwhacks and a winter traverse of Franconia Ridge.