October 22, 2005.

13.5 miles | 8.5 hours

Signal Ridge Tr > Carrigain Notch Tr > Desolation Tr > Carrigain summit > Signal Ridge Tr

I waited for my hiking partner in the parking lot and watched carload after carload of hikers pull in. Wonderful.

Rivers have been running high lately and so the first few stream crossings were trickier than usual. In some places we had to walk along the stream to find better places to cross, so the hike was interesting from the start.

One of the large groups that started right before us had already fragmented and we passed them, one at a time, as they plodded up the trail. At the first trail junction they planned to go left so we quickly went right. Most people choose the out-and-back via the Signal Ridge Trail so we enjoyed a quiet and scenic walk down the Carrigain Notch and Desolation Trails. The fall foliage was spectacular. The streams were slightly flooded in spots, making the trail mucky and sometimes impassable. We lost the trail at some point but relocated it with a minimum of confusion.

After a quick snack break at the Nancy Pond Trail junction we began climbing the Desolation Trail. Gradually it got to be steep and we encountered a little snow and ice. We also got a peek at Mt. Washington, with its gleaming white snowcap. We continued up the icy rocks until we started hearing loud voices. The summit was near.

We quickly gained the summit, where several people were hanging out near the firetower. The views were nice enough, but the crowd was obnoxious and that cut into my enjoyment of the experience. I was still quite amazed by the snow on Mt. Washington.

As we ate lunch, people excitedly introduced themselves to my hiking partner, the great Dr. Wu. I rolled my eyes as I tried to ignore them as they ignored me. I did meet several VFTT hikers, which was fun. Nice to put a face to a screen name.

I did not enjoy the fanfare, however, and I was thrilled to get out of there. We paused at a nice viewpoint along Signal Ridge and Dr. Wu pointed out all the bumps and features in the surrounding mountains. I tried really hard to absorb the information so I could start learning my way around here. After that lesson we descended the trail, chatting the whole way down. Suddenly, it seemed, we were back at the cars. Another incredible day!

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