Southern Maine 2018… Mahoosuc Notch
I last left the AT in Damascus VA late May. Spring and summer have been passing by quickly in Cooperstown. Working at the hospital three days a week in Pulmonary Clinic. Hard to call it “work”:
Had a great vacation with Stephanie visiting Kate and Steve in Boulder CO in July:
Celebrated with our son Bob (with his brothers Ed, Henry and Ben) and his new bride Michelle at their Cape Cod Wedding:
With all this excitement, the pull of the Trail persisted. In order to complete the entire 2181 miles, I still have a 100 mile stretch to hike in southern Maine as well as the final 350+ miles to hike down South in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. Hiking weather should be perfect this time of year in Maine… So I’m off after the wedding…
My plan was to start in Gorham NH, just south of the Maine border and head north as far as I could go in 1-2 weeks. Hoped to do 10+ miles a day. What I didn’t remember was that southern Maine is the toughest hiking on the entire trail. VERY STEEP ups and downs. Not getting any younger as well.
The hiking is beautiful. Maine woods are lush and green: Can you actually see the trail here?
It quickly became apparent that 5-7 miles a day was more realistic.
This was shelter I spent the night after the first hiking day. The view is from inside the shelter:
After passing the NH-Maine border, the hills get higher and the hiking harder. Views are awesome.
A few days later I approached the Mahoosuc Notch around 2 in the afternoon. It’s common lore on the trail that this is the “hardest mile” of the entire trail. The Notch is a one mile long gorge between two steep cliffs on each side. The bottom of the gorge is strewn with huge bus size boulders that you have to climb under, over and in between to cover ground. I was hiking alone and the going was slow. It took about 2 1/2 hours to make one mile. These pics may give you some idea of the terrain, although without me in the view, its hard to get perspective on size. These boulders are each 20-30 feet high!
Hiked another 2 days and started to run out of food. I thought is would take three days to hike up to and through the Notch, but it was approaching day 6! Running out of food.
The next morning I hiked up “Mahoosuc Arm” which is one of the steepest ascents on the AT. Over 1500 ft elevation climb in less than one mile. It seems like you are hiking straight up, and you almost are. Didn’t break any speed records but my theory to hike slow and steady. Here are some other nice view of the peaks:
Finally made it to Grafton Notch parking area on Saturday afternoon. Only one Kind Bar left in my pack. A nice couple from Montreal gave me some cherries from their pack to keep my going. I was still hungry and broke my hiking record for not having a shower for over 6 days. Time to go into town for a break. As is common, there was no cell service so I had to hitch hike back to Gorham for a night in a motel room with a welcome hot shower.
Rain forecast for the next several days with some possibility of flooding. It’s time to come home. Typing this blog post the day after returning to Cooperstown. A short but great hike. Seventy five percent of the time you’re admiring the beauty around you and are feeling so greatful to be out in the woods. Twenty percent of the time you are huffing and puffing and really working hard. At those moments, you’re just struggling to get through it. Five percent of the time… when you are climbing on your hands and knees up those steep boulders or holding onto a tree limb to prevent yourself from falling, I say to myself “What the heck am I doing here?”.
It’s nice sleeping in my soft bed now. I know when I’ve fully recovered from my most recent outing when I stop dreaming every night about hiking and more hiking. Usually takes about a week.
Next planned expedition is down to Georgia for some AT hiking next month.
Until then… thanks for viewing the AT blog.