Mt Cardigan - Clark Trail - November 12, 2017
Note: Writing trip report almost a year later
This was several weeks after my brutal trip up the Great Gulf trail. I figured this would be a good way to assess my knee situation without being too far out or too high elevation and also get to try the challenging Holt trail now that I know to park at the AMC lodge. My plan is to take Holt trail up, then take Mowglis trail to Back 80 trail and loop back to the parking lot.
I'm on the trail at 7am sharp the ground is crunchy with frost and there is a slight amount of snow. The further I go the icier the trail gets. I don't own microspikes yet soon after starting up Holt trail I encounter a huge ice flow. I decide that it's probably not wise to continue up Holt given the reputation it has and the conditions before reaching the hard parts. I walk a short ways back to the junction for Clark trail and start up that way instead, for part of this I actually go up the ski trail because it is more direct. While walking back I encounter two men who are also planning on doing Holt trail without microspikes, I alert them to the ice flow up ahead, but they keep going.
Holt Trail Ice Flow
Closer to the summit there are some places where the ice makes it difficult to walk. I proceed carefully and without too many slips I reach the summit. I spend a few minutes exploring and talking to another person up there. The view is amazing as is the crispy terrain. The cold and wind isn't terrible, but I don't want to dig my down coat out so I go back below the trees and start heading down. I go straight back the way I came instead of trying to follow my planned loop, I don't know the conditions of Mowglis and Back 80 trail but I can guess pretty difficult, and these likely don't see much foot traffic if I did get hurt.
Mt Cardigan Summer View
Going back down is twice as difficult as going up and I slip and fall at least once on the ice, that's my wake up call to start moving slower and more carefully, but it's still difficult. Eventually I'm walking on shallow snow again and the rest of the way down is uneventful. I'm back 3 hours and 45 minutes since the start, a lot shorter hike than originally planned, but a success nonetheless.
Ice On Clark Trail
Full loop on google earth satellite view
Time: 3 hours 45 minutes
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 1847'