July 27 – The trail suddenly became a whole lot easier in NH after getting out of the whites. The ground was once again mainly dirt for most of the day and the three mountains I climbed weren’t bad at all even though it was too cloudy for any views. At the summit of Mt. Success, I checked the weather. It was 2:50 and thunderstorms were predicted for an hour at 3. Sure enough, minutes later Lightning was lighting up the sky and a downpour began and lasted the two miles to the Maine Border, where the sun miraculously came out again. From here, the trail got very strenuous, requiring scrambling over and down giant boulders. I had planned to go on but I figured if the terrain was going to be so difficult I might as well not push it. I’m not at a very packed Carlo Car Shelter .5 miles past the border, ready for my first day in ME tomorrow!
July 28 – It wasn’t a very long day based on mileage but it felt like a twenty. Right out of the shelter I climbed my first mountain of Maine, literally climbed. Iron bars were welded into the rock and ladders leaned against the rock cliffs that were in the way of the trail. I enjoyed the fact that it was different than anything else so far but it slowed me down a lot and took much energy. The top of Goose Eye Mountain was essentially a swamp above treeline, again like nothing else I’ve seen so far on this hike. The sky was the most beautiful blue that it has been in days and views surrounded me, at points Mt. Washington and the presidentials were visible behind me. I walked along the ridge of goose eye for a few miles, summiting the three of its peaks before dipping down into the Mahoosic Notch. The Mahoosic Notch is a large boulder pit that the trail goes through, known to be the most difficult mile of the entire AT. There are rocks that must be climbed up and over as well as caves and crevices that must be squeezed through. It wasn’t so much difficult as it was time consuming, it took nearly two hours for me to get through it. The hard part was after the notch, when I ascended 2000 feet up to Mahoosic Arm. After already being worn out from the previous miles this was enough to make me ready to call it quits for the day. I set my sights on a fire tower on top of Old Speck Mountain that was only two miles and visible from the top of the arm. Before climbing Old Speck, the trail went down to Speck Pond, a big and beautiful alpine lake nestled in between two peaks. I then went up for another relatively easy mile to 4000 feet, where I took a side trail to the tower and was glad I did as it’s an awesome camp spot for the night. It looks like these next 250 miles aren’t going to be easy.
July 29 – My day started with 3.5 miles of gradual downhill before heading up Baldplate Mountain. The first half of the climb was well maintained and gradual as well until I reached the Baldplate Mountain Shelter. After this, the trail turned into steep stairs for the rest of the way to the summit, going up 1000 feet in less than a mile. From the top I could see Baldplate East Peak, one giant slab of rock that I was headed towards. It would have been extremely difficult to walk up it had it been wet but luckily it was another beautiful day. At the east peak I was looking back towards Old Speck, I could even see the tower on top. The rock slab continued for another half mile before going straight back down to the Frye Notch Shelter, this time not giving me the assistance of stairs. At the shelter, I met two southbound hikers and ended up staying longer than planned talking to them. They told me I was the most positive northbounder they’ve met so far and that many of the others have said they’re just ready to get to katahdin and be done with the whole thing. They said they hope to be like I am at the end of their journey, still loving it just as much as day one.
The next 4.5 miles were gradual downhill to B Hill Road. It’s nice to have some easier trail after the beatdown the first 30 miles of Maine have put on me. From the road I hitched into the town of Andover to charge my phone and get a double bacon cheeseburger, onion rings, and brownie sundae from the diner. After getting a ride back to the trail, I set up camp just south of the road at a spot I saw walking in. I would have stayed in Andover, but I’m planning my next overnight stay in town for Rangeley, two days from now.
July 30 – I had an annoying start to my day due to mud, overgrowth, and spider webs as I hiked up Wyman Mountain. The climb was gradual and it would have been a quick and easy few miles had it not been for these small obstacles. This section of the trail reminded me a whole lot of the Green Mountains in Vermont. Even though it’s not very far in mileage, it seems like it’s been a long time since I was in VT. The miles have been tough since then, much tougher than anything to the south. With less than 250 miles to go, I know that I just have to keep making progress each day no matter how big or small and I’ll make it to the finish line, Mt. Katahdin.
After Wyman, I had an extremely steep 1200 foot climb in 8/10’s of a mile. It was a grueling half hour to reach the top where once again I was rewarded with no view. I pushed on towards Old Blue Mountain without stopping in hopes of something at the top. I found a slight view here, mostly covered by the trees. My time was better spent making progress towards the next shelter, as dark clouds were starting to roll in. I made it just as the drops were falling from the sky but still intended to push on once it passed through. Two southbounders at the shelter gave me hopes of an easy and gradual trail down to the campsite I was aiming for but what they didn’t warn me of were the rock slabs going down to the mountain that were now extremely slippery or the fact that it was mainly exposed so I was getting openly rained on as I rushed through this section. It would have been a beautiful stretch had the sun been out, but in this scenario it was the last place I wanted to be. At the campsite I saw the first two northbounders that I’ve seen since entering Maine, five and loon. I haven’t seen Loon since New Jersey, but that’s the way the trail works. Ready to be in Rangeley tomorrow.
July 31 – 1 mile day to Rangeley.