Imp Face & Mount Lethe | 8/14/23
Despite crossing off two peaks from two lists, the purpose of Monday’s hike was far more significant than hitting another 52WAV or grabbing a peak for my eventual Trailwrights. On August 14th, I finally saw that fateful 50% on my tracing the White Mountain Guide spreadsheet- made possible by Imp Trail & the North Carter Trail. Halfway done was my goal for the summer, a season spent trudging through bogs, grasping ledges on T25 trails, and circling over high-mileage loops. Yet, for that last tick towards my goal, I did a generic 4000-footer route as a solo on a comfortable summer day.
My morning started an awful lot different than it did when I hiked in the Carter Range the first time. A couple of years ago, I was picking up a sleep-deprived Michelle, disturbing her with copious amounts of lip-syncing to “No Role Modelz” while she slept in the car on Route 2, and we then had our best day thus far in our 4K journey. But today, I was nodding my head along to the same songs I’ve had on repeat for a month, eating a protein brownie (bad idea), and chugging cold brew as I made my way through the 2.5-hour drive.
I got started up Imp Trail, clockwise, passing pile after pile of fresh bear scat- complimenting the massive bear I saw dart across the road 30 minutes prior. The trail fell true to its reputation of being gradual, wide, and soft underfoot. Even the water crossings spoke to the ease of the trail- weird!
The first two or so miles certainly weren’t flat- they gained close to 2000 feet, however, I was still shocked to come out to Imp Face. I had completely forgotten I’d be summiting a 52 With a View! This is not the first time this has happened as I focus so much on the trail over the destination- but it was a nice surprise! I didn’t hesitate for too long since there were a couple of folks up there that seemed startled by my loud podcast-listening self, but I was there enough to appreciate the view into Madison Gulf and down through the ravine created by Imp Brook.
The next mile to the base of the North Carter trail was uneventful, again gaining steadily. As I started to ascend the North Carter Trail, my fatigue set in big time, really feeling every lack of calories in my system. I had to stop for a good 10 minutes halfway through the trail, my John Legend interview still playing as I scrounged for any interesting piece of food I’d put in my pack that day. I had a handful of banana chips, stale sweet potato crackers, and a RxBar, and felt much better after, but still not 100% after literally having a brownie to get me through a 4500-footer.
At the eventual top, I, at last, decided what exactly my end destination was. Because I plan to complete Trailwrights after my trace, I will eventually need to individually (top to bottom) complete everything on the list- which makes for a LOT of hikes in the Carter Range. I decided to do Lethe, mostly because I thought a light bushwhack would add some flavor to the hike, and though it was hardly a trek, my legs told a different story in their scratches and scrapes.
The summit of Lethe just barely had a view, but was still interesting to look at the rolls of Carter Ridge. Soon, I turned around to walk back over the mud puddles on the Carter-Moriah trail, and back down to the junction. I ran into a Canadian couple who was asking for the way back to Dolly Copp, so I do hope that they took my warnings and did not head up and over to the Wild River. After the interaction, I worked quickly over the other side of Imp because I desperately wanted a sandwich from White Mountain Café, which closes at 4 pm.
The first part of the trail was pleasant, but the middle section was steep, muddy, and streambed-like. I undoubtedly preferred the other side of the trail to this area. Still, I went as fast as I could consuming many spider web appetizers along the way.
Back at Route 16, I beamed at my milestone and took the short walk back to my car at the other side of the trailhead. I pulled up to Gorham Café, of course, to a sign that said they were closing at 3 that day- it was 3:10. I didn't cry or anything. Psh. NAW. I was a big girl and went to Yaya’s instead… and had the most heavenly gluten-free Reuben. A well-earned one!