September 1, 2016 - What Horrors await us!!
Yesterday was a really hard day and we only went a little under ten miles. You never know how hard the terrain is going to be by looking at the elevation profile. We made breakfast at our tents and talked about the plan for the day. Hazel said oh I wonder what horrors await us today. I laughed as Mahoosuc Notch is coming and just like yesterday it looks like we will be dealing with wet rocks. The shelter area was packed. I would guess there was 40 people crammed in everywhere. The shelter was full, all the tent pads were full and people were camped wherever they could fit.
Yesterday people zeroed at the shelter as they didn't want to do the notch in the rain. Then all the people from the shelter we stayed at including us came, a few southbounders, and finally a few backpackers made for a full site.
Hazel and I finally got packed up and on the trail by 8am. We were one of the first people to leave and I think everyone was waiting for drier weather. Our first climb of the day was Fulling Mill Mountain. The climb was not to bad but the descent down to the notch was steep and with wet rocks very difficult. We reached the beginning of the notch and started in. The notch itself is only a mile long and it took us 3 hours to traverse through.
We had to climb, hop, crawl under, fling ourselves from rocks, under rocks. Then you add in wet rocks and it makes for an interesting time. The rocks in the notch had fallen from the cliffs above which created a jumble of them. You would climb over one rock to have a drop off on the other side, you would have to hold on to the Rock and slide your body off trying to get s foothold on another rock. Some moments were scary as if you slipped you would be really hurt. We finally made it through the notched a bit scratched, bruised and sore but everything still attached.
After the notch we had a climb up Mahoosuc Arm. When we got to the summit we texted Emily (Prime and Grey). They are hikers Hazel met on the trail in the south. They flipped from Harper's Ferry to Katahdin and started hiking south. They had kept in contact via email and were taking a week off to explore Maine and New Hampshire. They wanted to take us out to dinner. We were soooo excited. We agreed to text when we were descending. We descended down to Speck Pond and then began to climb up Old Speck Mt. Hazel had a slip on the rock face and banged her knee, elbow, ribs and hip pretty good. I was a bit ahead but crash and red came to her rescue and took her pack so she could get up that stretch easier. She is ok but sore and a bit bloody. We made it to the summit and had a fantastic view of the valley below.
We texted Emily and began our descent down. 3.5 miles and it was loooooooong descent. The trail was nice and not too steep which made for a long way down. We arrived close to 7 and Prime and grey were waiting for us. They brought us Gatorade which we were so thankful for. We got into the car and headed to dinner. I was so grateful for their generosity and they told us about the trail ahead. They mentioned there will be a rope. Yes a rope to go over the edge. Dinner was great. I had steak and cheese sandwich, Hazel got pulled pork. We had a great time and they stopped at a gas station on the way back for us to get some snacks. We got back to Grafton Notch and set up our tents by some picnic tables on the path to the privy. It was gonna be a cold night. I looked at my watch as I was laying down and it was 10:56. 10:56!!!!!
September 2, 2016 - And there was rope!
I woke up and got up around 7:30 to a cloudy day. There were some day hikers who had slept in their car having breakfast at the picnic table as well as another 4 thru hikers who were also camped there. Hazel and I joined in for breakfast at the picnic tables and talked about the plan for the day. We decided it would be good to try and get into the hostel in Andover to shower and so Hazel could clean up her cut.
We started off about 8:30 and began the climb up Baldplate Mt. It was three miles up and the trail was nice. The last mile was steep and had lots of stone steps. We rested on the west peak and I called the hostel and made a reservation. We descended and then ascended Baldpate east peak. This peak was a treeless soil less dome. We rock scrambled up to the summit and it was a bit hairy at times but we made do. We descended down to Frye Notch lean-to and ate lunch. We had a small ascent and called the hostel to arrange a shuttle to get into town. The descent down was an easy 4 miles. We arrived at East Hill road with ten minutes to spare. The shuttle guy was called Sherlock who thru hiked in 2002. We got to the hostel and checked in, took showers and headed to the red hen diner for prime rib special. It was delicious and we wolfed it down in no time. We ran across the street to the general store for super expensive resupply. We headed back to the hostel to put in our laundry and to relax. We are taking the 9:30 shuttle back to the trail.
September 3, 2016 - The Fleas
We were back on trail the first climb of the day was a long but easy ascent up Wyman Mt. Half way up we passed surplus pond which was really pretty. We stopped at Hall Mt. lean-to which was on the summit of our next climb. We descended steeply down to sawyer notch and then immediately began the climb up Moody Mt which was an unforgiving trail. Straight up for .90 miles and 1600 feet in elevation gain. We rested on the top at a view point and climbed down the other side with the trail being gradual to the bottom. We found a really nice camp spot by the river and set up. There was even a new privy close by with a porch. While setting up Hazel was getting bite by little black insects and then I started to. We got out gear inside our tents and realized they were fleas. They were all over our netting and some were managing to get in our tent. Aaaaaahhhhh.
We decided to abort the campsite and Hazel ran over to another area to see if they were over there. No fleas but this spot had a huge wasps nest and lots of wasps flying around. We broke down the tents while being attacked by fleas and headed across the road hoping something would be on the other side. The other side of the road immediately went steeply up and nowhere to camp. I walked down the road a little bit and saw a campsite in the woods that is not supposed to be used but at this point we didn't have a choice. We set up in the dark and made dinner. I immediately fell asleep around 8.
September 4, 2016 - Another day on the trail
Woke up in the flea-less campsite around 6:30. I slept really good even though it got down into the 40's. I went and filtered water, took the bear bag down and the laundry line down. We made breakfast and got on trail around 7:30.
Our first climb of the day was up old blue mt. I played the soundtrack of Wicked for Hazel who had never heard it. The music gave us a nice break to the hike and we were on the summit in no time. We stopped for a snack and the view was wonderful. We followed the trail along the ridge line and summitted Bemis Mt and Bemis second peak. The trail was really nice today. We hiked with and leapfrogged old timer, red, crash and nacho. We descended down to a dirt road and camped near Bemis stream.
The weather today was just perfect for hiking. Hazel bumped her knee again and tore off the scab. We need to wrap it with heavy layering to keep it safe. We made dinner, hung the bear bag and I think by 7:45 I was drifting off to sleep. Dragon head and Ninja are about 61 miles ahead of us. They just recently left Stratton, Maine.
September 5, 2016 - An easy day on the trail
The trail has been so nice here in Maine. The stonework and effort is so appreciated. We got up and made breakfast at the campsite. We pushed off around 6:30. We wanted to make it to route 4 early.
We climbed the hill up to route 17 which offered a fantastic view of Mt Bemis and surrounding areas. We continued on the hill after crossing the street and the trail leveled out. The rest of the day would be gradual ups and gradual downs. We stopped at the sabbath day shelter and had a snack. I had called farmhouse inn yesterday to say we would be coming in. Kirk had told me when I got to Rangeley he would pay for my stay at the inn. They told me before I descended the hill to call them to set up a pick up from the trailhead.
We moved on from the shelter making great time and stopped for lunch at a campsite on a pond. It was such a nice scenic spot. We were able to fill up on water and carried on. I called the inn to let them know that we would be there at 3 to the trailhead. The girl at the inn said everyone was doing runs and that she would try and get us a ride but if no one was there by 3:30 to try and hitch. We continued on our way with a slow decent to the road. It was such a nice trail today and a nice walk. We arrived at route 4 and rested in the parking area. A couple pulled into the parking area and offered to take us into town. We said yes please and they drove us to the farmhouse inn. We checked in and got "The Nest" it had two beds and another bed area in the front room. It was just perfect.
We took showers, put our laundry in and washed our cook ware. We took the dinner shuttle into town and went to Parkside for dinner. After dinner we stopped and got an ice cream and then got dropped off at the grocery store for resupply. The grocery store had new hours starting tonight, they now close at 8. We waited outside until the shuttle came back and will get brought in the morning. We headed back to the farmhouse and settled in for the night.
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