Day 173- 9.10.15
We hiked 14.5 miles today (1897.8-1912.3). We crossed the 1900 mile mark today! It is so crazy to be here! The terrain today was pretty tough. We had been warned that the terrain would not magically become easier to hike just because we’ve left The Whites, and that has been true so far. The last mountain that we climbed in New Hampshire was called Mount Success, which I think is pretty fitting for where we are right now. And then we crossed the state line into MAINE! We took a break at the state line sign and really couldn’t figure out what to do or say. Short of a parade, there really isn’t anything you can do to convey the feeling you have when you’ve walked to the 14th and final state that the AT goes through.
We saw two huge rabbits on the trail today. There was also a lot of raised trail (glorified wooden boards that make a walkway so you don’t sink knee-deep into substrate) and some wooden ladders, which helped make the hike a little easier and safer today.
We arrived to the campsite and were spent. So tired. The threat of rain and a few sprinkles of rain surely didn’t help. We opted to stay in the shelter because of the forecasted rain for tonight. We camped with Squirrel, Sweaty Yeti, TK, Jerry, Clown Car, Craw Daddy, Freedom Fry, Cooter and The Family. One of the younger girls in the family sprained her ankle. Hoping she heals quickly and that they can work out a way to get off trail before heading into Mahoosic Notch!
Day 174- 9.11.15
We hiked 5.1 miles today (1912.3-1917.4). It was raining when we woke up, so we staying in the shelter waiting until it stopped. We were on the trail by 10, nervous and excited to see what Mahousic Notch was all about. We had a small climb followed by a steep descent. When you get there, you know. Between two mountains is a steep, narrow canyon full of huge boulders. We put our poles away and started climbing over, under and between huge boulders. Everything was wet, slippery and muddy. There were a lot of parts where I was scared. Like clinging to the edge of a slanted rock while trying to get across it without falling into a hole. There were tons of places to fall into or slide into. Some open places were only a few feet deep. Others were 20+ feet down. After taking almost 2.5 hours to hike 1.1 miles of trail, we made it out of the notch and had some much needed lunch.
After lunch, we started the climb up Mahoosic Arm. Another huge climb up a single slab of rock lacking footholds. I am usually against adding to the erosion problem, however, I did here. Without some dirt and trees to hold onto, I’m not sure how we were supposed to climb up this mountain! We were so excited to see Speck Pond and decided to take a break at the shelter where we ran into East and Mezla. Clown Car and Craw Daddy decided to stay at the shelter, so Fuego wanted to too. We would have to go another four miles until we reached a water source. Judging by the past four miles, they could be four brutal miles and we may have ended up hiking in the dark.
Day 175- 9.12.15
We hiked 14.9 miles today (1917.4-1932.3). Even though we were asleep by 8:30 last night, we still slept in until 6:30. We were definitely tired. The descent to Grafton Notch was pleasantly uneventful and we were happy to hike at a decent pace! We had lunch at Bald Pate Lean-to and then climbed Bald Pate. I’m so glad we climbed Bald Pate on a dry day. The views from the summit are absolutely stunning, but the giant granite slabs we climbed would have been scary and dangerous if wet. On the hike down, we ran into Spider hiking SOBO. Not sure what his overall hiking plan is, but it was good to see him out on the trail.
On our snack break at Frye Notch, we realized that we could get into Andover, ME for all you can eat pizza at the only restaurant in town. We hiked fast and made it to the road crossing at 5:30- plenty of time for pizza. And then we waited. And waited. Over a 30 minute period, only two cars drove by, but were heading in the opposite direction. As a third car drove by in the opposite direction, we had our thumbs out anyway, realizing we were in the middle of nowhere and hoping they were used to hikers needing to get to town. He turned around and we jumped in the truck. After talking to him for a few minutes, we learned that he owns a hostel and someone behind us had called ahead for a ride. With little convincing needed, we rode into town with Bear, had dinner and did resupply in town and stayed at his house. They have a bunk room, but also have campers parked outside that are available to stay in. Since Clown Car was the one with an actual reservation, we got second dibs on accommodations, staying in a truck bed camper (sans truck). Much better option than getting rained on by staying in the tent J
Day 176- 9.13.15
We slackpacked 10.1 miles today (1932.3-1942.4). We woke up early to let Bear and Honey know we wanted to stay the night again and slackpack today. We weren’t planning to have breakfast in the hostel, but after seeing and smelling everything Honey made, we changed our minds. After breakfast, Hopper drove Craw Daddy and us to the trailhead for the slackpack. Turns our, Hopper was the hiking partner of Bismark (the guy who was arrested at Trail Days back in May for embezzling $8+million from Pepsi). Another couple hiking said they saw a moose within the first few minutes of the hike. I thought I saw a moose, too, through the trees. As I walked forward to get a better view, Fuego saw the moose, but I missed it! It was a big bull moose.
The rain held out most of the day, but we were essentially hiking in a cloud with big gusts of wind. We definitely didn’t see any of the views today. We kept joking that it felt like we were going through a car wash when the trail was overgrown with plants that were all wet. We stopped for lunch at the Hall Mountain Lean-to and ate the rest of the pancakes and waffles- so delicious! I should also add that the waffles were in the shapes of barns, cows and chickens. At the top of Moody Mountain, we called for our ride back to the hostel. Some flip floppers were already in the truck. Fuego and I opted for work for stay and stacked firewood for a hour and some change. I wish we had a before and after picture of the woodpile! We each had a beer with Bear after we finished stacking wood.
After showers, we decided to have dinner at the hostel. Honey made a huge family-style spaghetti dinner for everyone, complete with a homemade brownie with ice cream for dessert.
Bear and Honey are so cute! They’re in their early 80s and opened the hostel (The Cabin) when they retired 20something years ago. They said they actually lose money on the hikers, but stay afloat by having a few rental properties in the area.
Day 177- 9.14.15
We hiked 12.3 miles today (1942.4-1954.7). I didn’t want to leave The Cabin, but I also didn’t want to pay $32 to slackpack the next 13 miles either. We started the day climbing Old Blue Mountain in a cloud, expecting rain in the afternoon, but it ended up raining lightly throughout the day. Bear told us to pick blueberries at the top of Bemiss Mountain and we got half a sandwich bag full! Definitely glad we decided to stop for a break at the top. (Side note: Bemiss Mountain reminded me of work all day because one of the last projects I worked on was at Bemiss Field).
It began to rain harder as we approached our first prospective campsite, so we decided to call it a day and set up camp. We laid out the Tyvek ground sheet and quickly laid the tent over it (if the ground sheet is wet, water will eventually seep through the tent floor and then WE will be wet). After we put the poles through, we started staking the tent out. The pole on my side snapped right in the middle! Since there is shock cord through the pole segments, we assumed I didn’t get the poles connected all the way. As we took the tent down, we realized the end of one pole snapped off inside the other pole! I’ll just go ahead and admit we weren’t carrying a tent pole splint like we should have been. We duct taped the poles together, although because segment that broke was right in the middle of the pole (the most stress being put on this particular spot), the duct tape bent and we had a nice arc at the foot of the tent and an A-frame at the head of the tent. Since it was raining really hard, we staked it out anyways and climbed inside. After almost an hour of getting rained on, we opted to eat a bunch of snacks in lieu of cooking dinner.
Day 178 – 9.15.15
We hiked 14.1 miles today (1954.7-1968.8). We decided to try and get to Rangeley today to buy a splint and resupply. We were worried that we may not find the splint due to limited supply in this town. It was a beautiful sunny day with a calm breeze. Couldn’t really ask for a better day. Right after the campsite, we were supposed to ford the stream. We were lazy and decided to ford the stream with our shoes since they were wet anyways. We walked by many ponds today, but no sign of moose. We took our socks and shoes off each break, which helped dry everything out. We kept a decent pace most of the day, which we mostly thanked the weather for. The weather kept us in a very good mood.
Once we got to the road, the school superintendent picked us up and drove us into town. Thankfully we got our splint for the tent and Fancy Pants called Tarp Tent. They are mailing us two new tent pole segments for free! Love the gear companies that are known for taking care of thru hikers. We walked down the street and passed Sarge’s Pub and noticed that they had $1.50 drafts and bottles for happy hour. We looked at each other and knew we couldn’t pass this opportunity, plus a thru hiker always feels they deserve a beer (Hiker Trash!). So we got a beer and split some nachos. Another hiker that couldn’t finish his nachos asked if wanted them. I was in shock to hear this from him and looked right at him and said, “Of course we will eat your nachos!” (Hiker Trash!). Crazy to see the shift that occurs on us while on the trail to being so much less wasteful than before. Case in point: Fancy Pants had one Ziploc bag for a few hundred miles before it died. We resupplied at IGA and ate an entire 1.5-quart container of Graham Slam ice cream before getting a ride with “The Original Barbara Bush.” The first lady married into the name, while this one was born into it!