When we were still in South Africa Trevor told me about Mahoosuc Notch – the slowest mile on the AT, a jumble of huge (car size) rocks you have to make your way through, sometimes over the boulders, sometimes underneath a pile of them forming a tunnel. The trail doesnt tell you where to go, blazes keep you on track but you have to find your own route.
It rained from 4h30 so we stayed in our sleeping bags till after 7 by which time the rain had stopped. We couldnt wait for the rocks to dry so we set off just before 8, praying that we would not get rain while doing the notch. The rain stayed away untill just after we finished the mile – it took as more than 2 hours! Trevor is critical of our slow pace because the young people do it in just more than an hour to hour and a half. He is tough on us – I dont think we should be compared to the youngsters as we dont have the balance, the knees and the strength of young muscles they have.
Because he has lost so much weight he keeps his pants up with his belt but with all the rock climbing required in the notch his rucksack moved around and pushed his belt out of position. Next thing there he was, balancing on a rock trying to figure out his next move, with his pants around his ankles. The going was too tough for me to laugh at that point but later in the day, relaxing on a peak, I had a good laugh. Pity he refuses to re-enact the pose for me to take a photo, a photo of those skinny legs in nothing but a pair of underpants can win competitions!
Next up (immediately after Mahoosuc Notch) was Mahoosuc Arm. We read that it was the steepest and toughest climb on the AT but really, tough as it was it was no tougher than climbs we did yesterday and the day before.
At the top of Old Speck mountain (our first 4000 footer in Maine) we had a view for a few minutes before everything got covered in clouds again. I think you can almost see the clouds move in and understand the term “In and out of clouds”, which is commonly used (together with “clear” or “cloudy”) to describe peak weather:
The terrain is tough, we are doing lower mileage than we hoped for. But we want to increase our work rate as much as we can: we now want to get to the end of this.
Trevor was keen to get to the end of his second last map (the mobile app he uses has 9 maps) and from tomorrow we will be on the 9th map. He set our target for tonight at the first camping spot on the 9th map. I only focussed on getting to the end of the 8th map, silently thinking that it is at a trail head with a parking lot and that there is bound to be a stelth camping spot around the area, and that I will twist his arm to not climb up another 4km to the camp.
As it was we only arrived at the parking lot at 5pm. The area is serviced by the State Park, there are picnic tables, trash cans and toilets. And very clear “No Camping” signs. While we were resting an empoloyee came to empty the trash cans and money box (visitors who hike on the local trails are charged $4 per person and they just dump it in a locked money box) and chatted to us for a while. When he left he smiled and said that though camping is not allowed they turn a blind eye to thru-hikers camping at the stelth spots just 100 yards to the east of that footpath over there 😀.
This fitted in perfectly with my plan and was so kind of him. We cooked and had our dinner at a picnic table, I emptied all our trash in their trash cans and we are having a relaxed evening in the no-camoing area waiting for our legs to repair.
Tomorrow we are going into Andover for re-supply: I messed up our shopping a bit: we have 4 more dinners and 3 more breakfasts but only lunch and snacks for 1 more day. Also sounds as if Andover is a cute little time so keen to see it.