After I had finished Tom, Field, and Willey I decided I hadn’t had enough punishment. Frankly, I was way behind my friend Josh on the 4,000 footer list so I had to squeeze in as many summits as I could. So my wife drove me to the Signal Ridge trailhead to climb Carrigain since I still had most of the day left. She would take our son to Storyland and pick me up when they were done. In retrospect, I didn’t quite give this ascent as much credit as I should have. It turned out to be the second hardest single summit ascent I’ve done so far in the Whites, next to Washington. In fact, you’ll see below that I get quite whiney. But it was also one of my favorite views, giving me awesome 360 views of both the presidentials and the pemis with great clearance.
Distance: 10.25 miles
Elevation Gain: 3300 ft
Elevation Gain: 3300 ft
Total time: 5 hours
Weight: 12 pounds
|The trailhead sign.|
This hike starts off on the Signal Ridge Trail very inconspiciously. There is some slight rise but for most of the first couples miles it’s a comfortable walk/jog. There’s a pretty stream in the middle with an unmarked campsite next to it for those who like those ninja sites. The trail lulls you into thinking you’re actually doing a little bit of climbing in between the old railroad walks and then around 2-3 miles you hit the actual mountain and realize this was all a flat valley walk and your actual hike is about to start.
|The ridge walk to the actual summit.|
For the next half of a mile you climb up a steep, rocky path of the type most of the Whites take in the middle. Then when you get to the top of that, the trail hangs right and you start walking across the ridge. I had seen this on the map and it looked like it a slight ascent. Unfortunately, the terrain continued to stay very rocky which made it more challenging than the elevation would appear. Then at the end of the ridge you begin a series of switchbacks that get steeper. Then, you finally reach the top…of the false summit.
From here you get a pretty neat exposed ridge walk over to the base of the actual summit. From there it’s only a couple hundred feet climb to the summit and observation tower. Unfortunately, today was not my day for views. The people coming down had gone on at length about the awesome sunny, clear views but clouds had moved in by the time I got up there and I only got overcast skies. Honestly, even with overcast skies I was blown away at how much clearance the mountain had on the top. Usually I feel like there’s a bunch of other mountains in the way of the view, but this felt like a mountain alone amongst other giants. I definitely would like to climb this again on a clear day.
|A panoramic view of overcast skies from the observation tower on top of Carrigain.|
After this summit, I sadly rushed down quickly after a quick snack and drink because 1) there was a forecast of thunderstorms and some dark clouds on the horizon and 2) the top was pretty crowded.