Today was another free day for me, so I chose to hike the Wildcats. The weather report looked good for the day, but the drive up revealed something different. It was rainy and socked in with fog through the Franconia Notch and conditions only mildly improved once through Twin Mountain and on the way to Gorham. I started then thinking of alternatives since I was almost at my destination. My choices were the Wildcat ski trails or hiking Moriah instead.
I met a friend who was going to help me with a carspot at 8:30a at 19 Mile Brook trail head and had a quick discussion regarding the weather. We decided that she should drop me off at the Wildcat Ski Area so that I could take the ski trails up to the top instead of the potentially wet ledges on the Wildcat Ridge Trail. I’m not terribly familiar with the Wildcat Ski Area, so I asked the gondola operator for directions to the Pole Cat Trail. He said it was up the hill and over to the left. No problem, off I went towards the ski trails and started up hill. It was pretty steep, but heading up hill was good thing. After a while, I started to wonder if I was on the right trail. There really aren’t any signs for the hikers and since this is a ski area the signs are placed so that people going *down* hill, not *up* hill can see them! I finally saw some signs, but not exactly sure where I was. Technology to the rescue! I got out my phone, got on the internet to Wildcat Ski Area’s website, found their map and figured out where I was. I wasn’t on the Pole Cat trail – I didn’t go far enough to the left before starting up hill. I was on the Lynx trail, which is steeper. At that point, I figured it really didn’t matter what trail I was on, seeing that I’d end up at the top eventually.
Which I did, and around 10:15a, I was at the summit of Wildcat D. Whew. Not sure if I’ll ever take the ski trails again without any snow, but at least I made it to the top without the worry of the wet ledges. The weather was cool, breezy and overcast, but it wasn’t hot and buggy! While on the observation platform at the summit trying to get any sort of view, I could see the clouds rolling towards me and eventually engulfing me. I took that as a sign that it was time to move on.
I headed out to hike the rest of the Wildcat trail and really enjoyed it, even though it wasn’t sunny and I didn’t any great views. While the Wildcat Ridge Trail has ups and downs, I really didn’t think that it was that bad and enjoyed being on the ridge among the evergreens. While on the ridge, I saw a rabbit and the only people that I would see all day: the friendly AMC trail crew putting in some nice new puncheons or bog bridges.
Quickly enough, I arrived at the summit of Wildcat A. Even though the views weren’t great, there was enough clearing to see the hut in Carter Notch. After a quick lunch in the weak sunshine, it was time for the descent. It was wasn’t a long descent, just a steep one.
After arriving at the junction of the 19 Mile Brook and Wildcat Ridge Trails, it was time for a much easy, albeit longer descent to the car via the 19 Mile Brook Trail.
I made it to the car by 1:30p and was headed home. I had a really good day and had a new adventure hiking up ski trails! Even without great weather and views, it was possible to still have a great hike. Only 5 to go, and with a 3 day hiking trip planned this weekend, I might (wink-wink) bag a few more peaks.