Ascent of Mount Carrigain on 2014-08-23

Climber: Spencer Corcoran

Date:Saturday, August 23, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Carrigain
    Location:USA-New Hampshire
    Elevation:4680 ft / 1426 m

Ascent Trip Report

What a way to bag Mount Carrigain, my 45th NH 4K!

My buddy Ray and I set out on the Signal Ridge Trail around 8:15 AM and paralled Whiteface Brook for a bit. The trail had a few notable ups, but it was never steep. At around 1.5 miles in, we crossed Carrigain Brook, and at 1.7 miles, we reached the start of the Carrigain Notch Trail. Ray wanted to loop back via Desolation and Carrigain Notch Trail after topping out, but I suggested we go up those trails, since descending Desolation could be treacherous in the wet conditions that prevailed today. So off down the Carrigain Notch Trail we went.

The Carrigain Notch Trail started out very flat, although washed out a bit. For the junction to the summit, I ran into several spider webs, which were a pain to brush off my arms and legs. It was all moot, though, as we believe we were the only people on these trails that day. At least I cleared the way for my buddy. Soon, we began the moderate climb to the namesake notch, with a few peekaboo views to Mount Lowell and its cliffs and slides. Upon reaching the notch, we entered the Pemigewasset Wilderness and began descending. The trail from here to the Desolation Trail was somewhat lightly maintained, per Wilderness regulations, but it was never hard to follow. At 4.1 miles from the Signal Ridge Trail, the Nancy Pond Trail went sharp right (I almost blew right the junction without noticing it). From there, it was an easy (but overgrown in spots) 0.8 mile to the start of the DT.

The Desolation Trail started by following an old logging road at moderate grades, skirting the mountainside at times. After the end of that old road section, the trail went straight up over large jagged rocks; we were on all fours at times. Shortly after, the trail moderated, and we soon reached an opening in the woods, and then 8.5 miles and 4.25 hours into the hike, we reached the top of my 45th 4K and Ray's 2nd 4,000 footer (Osceola was his #1). We did not see a single soul for the entire 6.8 mile hike up the Carrigain Notch and Desolation Trails (saw a few groups on first 1.7 miles of Signal Ridge Tr)

We climbed the tower and spent a good 40 minutes taking in the view and chatting with fellow hikers. I actually didn't want to leave, but I wanted to be home before dark, so we headed down Signal Ridge Trail when the tower became more crowded.

The upper part of Signal Ridge was very nice, and I can see why it's a favorite of many- moderate grades, nice woods, and excellent views make it so. The middle part had somewhat rough footing, but the lower part was very pleasant to walk on. Eventually we got back to the junction with the Carrigain Notch Trail, and at the brook crossing a short way past that, we took a dip in the COLD water. Refreshing, but definitely a serious cold shock, so much that my feet hurt.

At 3:40 PM, we made it back to the trailhead, tired and hungry but victorious. This was definitely a unique spin on a hike that most people do via the "easy" way (Signal Ridge out and back), and I'm glad we did it. 45 down, 3 to go!
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3750 ft / 1142 m
    Total Elevation Loss:3750 ft / 1142 m
    Round-Trip Distance:13.5 mi / 21.7 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Overcast
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3700 ft / 1127 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 3200 ft / 975 m; Extra: 500 ft / 152m
    Loss on way in:500 ft / 152 m
    Distance:8.5 mi / 13.7 km
    Route:Signal Ridge, Carrigain Notch, & Desolation Trs
    Start Trailhead:Sawyer River Rd.  1480 ft / 451 m
    Time:4 Hours 15 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:3250 ft / 990 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 3200 ft / 975 m; Extra: 50 ft / 15m
    Gain on way out:50 ft / 15 m
    Distance:5 mi / 8.1 km
    Route:Signal Ridge Trail
    End Trailhead:Sawyer River Rd,  1480 ft / 451 m
    Time:2 Hours 30 Minutes

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