Carrigain Trip Report
For my final 4000-footer, I envisioned hiking angels would carry me gently to the final summit where a band played a Sousa march on my arrival. (I won’t even tell you about the cheerleaders.) It didn’t happen. The day was cloudy, dark, damp and buggy. Showers threatened and thunderstorms were forecasted for later in the day. Carrigain reputedly has a spectacular view from it’s observation tower and I was going to miss it.
The 2.0 mi. valley walk was wet and muddy with numerous, aggressive mosquitoes. They got me. I hardly noticed the stream which (as I saw on the walk back) had some pretty pools and falls. The climb up was moderate and typical White Mountain walking. The mile or so straightaway up the side of Carrigain was all business and led me into the clouds. Then the magic happened. The clouds brightened and the outline of the sun popped out of the mist. I looked through the trees and saw a sea of clouds with the top of a mountain poking out. The sky was getting bluer as I walked. I think I walked faster so I could see what this looked like from the wide view of the ridge before it disappeared. After a lot of switch-backing, I arrived at Signal Ridge – very cool. Looking towards the summit, the ridge’s right side was a steep drop off into an abyss of clouds, which were topping out maybe a 100 feet or so below the ridge line. I walked carefully along the ridge trail. Then into the trees and up to the summit where several large groups were camping. I climbed the viewing tower and yelled “Yahoo!” as loud as I could. I startled the backpackers who were hanging out on the tower. The view was a 360-degree sea of clouds punctured by a few summits. It was another world and it was wonderful.
It was also my moment. I hiked the first peak July 16, 1994, into the clouds and onto a tower on Cannon, and ended on July 19, 2007, above the clouds on a tower on Carrigain. Thirteen years, 48 peaks. I finished.
The walk down was uneventful except for round 2 with the mosquitoes and the mud, which at one point swallowed my left leg halfway up my calf – it was the mountain’s last laugh -- then it started to rain. I didn’t care.
- cloudy, 60s, then showers and rain at the very end
- alone until the top, which had a few groups of campers, met some people (<10) on the way down
- this was the buggiest I’ve seen in the Whites; it took several slathers of Ben’s to keep them at bay
- the high humidity and tree wet stuff kept me dripping wet the entire day
- 10.0 mi., 6.5 hrs