I try to get up early. I will need as much daylight as possible to get 12 miles to Baldpate Shelter. Judging by the last 2 days I’m doing about 1 mile an hour and today would be slower than that because of the Mahoosuc Notch and Mahoosuc Arm which is the mountain soon after. I watch a group of about 15 Harvard freshman hike out north. Well, I guess there will be a traffic jam through the notch now. Moonwalk headed out soon after and then Shepard. I’m finally ready to go by 7:15 leaving Diamond Blue behind. I make my way up Fulling Mill Mountain in the fog to begin the day then down into the notch. I soon pass Moonwalk and the group of Harvard students gathered together at a trail junction. I see Shepard walking south back toward me. He thought he had gotten off the trail but I assured him we were on course. He sped off into the woods.
A notch is the gap or valley in between mountains. The Mahoosuc Notch is just a mile long pile of boulders. I’ve heard that it stays so cold down under the rocks that you can see snow in the middle of summer. I’ve also heard that moose get trapped in there, die, and their carcasses get frozen in the snow. I’ve been told that it can take hours to navigate this 1 miles. At about 8am I begin the notch.
This part of the trail is not very well marked. The white blazes are few and if there are any they are faded so that they are hard to see. I was told by a south bound hiker to stay to the right. Some of these boulders are 3 to 4 feet apart where I had to stretch or leap across. Some drop-offs were 10 to 20 feet down. It was scary with 25 pounds on my back. You only get one step. I heard of a hiker that thought she broke her leg in here and was air lifted out. Luckily, she didn’t break her leg.
Several times I had to rock climb over boulders and hoist myself up an over ledges to keep moving forward. Twice I had to take my pack off and shove it through the small opening in the rocks before I could climb through. I would not fit otherwise. By the end of it, I was getting the hang of it and was having a lot of fun. I’d like to come back with a day pack sometime. Near the end, I lost my balance and started tipping backward but a small dead tree trunk caught me.
I saw no one in the notch which was sad since I couldn’t ask anyone to take my picture. I was able to get through the notch in about 45 minutes. I took a break after I finished at a campsite. I needed to fuel up for the next climb which was 2000 feet up the Mahoosuc Arm to Old Speck. I passed a hiker walking southbound and she told me to walk up the root systems on the sides of the trail. I did and the climb went much smoother than I expected.
I started listening to Harry Potter #3 to help pass the time and I was on the other side of Old Speck by 4:30pm. In the parking lot at Grafton Notch there was trail magic with Subway sandwiches, Cokes, cookies, grapes, and more. I took another break and ate my fill before hiking 2.5 miles up to Baldpate shelter for the night. Shepard was heading to the shelter over the next mountain. I had hoped to have had enough time and energy to join him there but it was too late. I set up my bed in the shelter and waited for company. There was a loud racket going on down the way at the tent sites. It was another Harvard group. No else one showed up at the shelter so I made a fire to keep me company. No need to make dinner. I was full. I waited for the sun to set and then crawled into my sleeping bag hoping the kids would quiet down over night. I put in my ear plugs just in case they didn’t.
Miles: 1915.1 – 1927.1 (12)