Mahoosuc Trail 1999       Picasa Photo Album


The Mahoosuc Trail

August 17th to August 20th

0630 Breakfast @ MacDonalds, the MGM boys- Malcom Pain, Gordon Warnica, and Mark Stein

0900 After Mark gets back from moving the car to Andover Me, we are off. Only 1.3 miles through town (Gorham, N.H.)

0935 Onto the Mahoosuc Trail. It didn't take long to get through town we made good time. 1700 feet up to 2555' and over 3.9 miles and we crest Mt Hayes to meet up with the Appalachian Trail (AT) The last 3.9 in only 2 hrs. 3.0 miles more and it's lunch at the Trident Col Shelter and only 1:30 At 6:30 and 4.9 miles, we get to the Gentian Pond Shelter. For some reason we hit the sack at 8:30 at night but then we did hike 11.5 miles with some decent ascents and descents.

Tues. up at 0615 and on the trail at 0800 after 5.0 miles we hit the Carlo Col trail and descended 0.3 miles to the shelter for lunch. 0.3 miles back up the trail and on to Full Goose Shelter only another 4.5 miles away. It was rainy and windy and rocky and we all left a little bit of flesh on the rocks. I did find a nice sleeping bag left by another hiker and carried it only for a couple of hours until we found the shelter. This was definately the toughest day of hiking I have ever done. I don't know if it was the rain or wind or very slippery rocks but IT WAS TIRING. After only 10,1 miles we actually managed to stay awake until 7:35 that night before we passed out in our sleeping bags. The shelter was full with 12 hikers and the tent sites had another 12 to 15 more. We were actually hiking along side a few through hikers. Hickory, the roofer and Tamarack, a young woman of about 25 years of age doing the whole trail by herself, and Indiana, a young lad of 28 or 29 who makes guitars for a living. We also had Celt, a young fellow from Lincoln N.H., who works at Loon Mountain in the winters as a Ski Patroller. We were travelling with them although they moved quite a bit faster than us.

0700 breakfast reveille and all the talk was of "the Mahoosuc Notch" Some people had taken 12 hours the day before to travel 1.1 miles through the notch Yes that's 1.1 miles in 12 hours. One book says "the route through the notch is difficult and dangerous" It has been described as the toughest 1 mile on the whole AT. Another book...the trail descends the length of the narrow notch along a rough footway, passing through a number of boulder caverns, some with narrow openings where your progress will be slow and where ice remains into the summer. Caution: Use great care when travelling through the notch, because of it's slippery rocks and dangerous holes;Heavy backbacks will impede progress considerably. I think you get the idea. We were up to our eyeballs in trouble and no way out. Heck, put your head down and go for it.We left camp at 0810 and hit the notch at 0938. At 1222 we scampered out the other end-- 2 hours 40 minutes of up, under, over, around, under, beside, over, whatever it took to get through it. Lunch at 12:30 till 0100 Now up the arm. The trail then winds upward among rocks and ledges on the very steep wooded slope with a steep, rough footway. Down the other side and supper at Speck Pond Campsite. We had done 5.1 miles since 8:00 in the morning and we were beat. This a nice site with a caretaker, Jen, who spends 10 days up here and then gets 4 days off. Dipper missed his chance to swim the highest pond in Me. But I did the area Gonzo proud and went in his stead. That nite we crawled into our bags at 7:25 exhausted from a tough 5 miler.

0635 and up and at them Breakfast and on the trail at 8:50 Took a small 0.5 mile detour to get to the top of Old Speck Mountain and it was worth it. There was an old fire tower there and we had 360 degree views of where we had come from and all the surrounding areas. By 1:30 we reached Maine 26 and we had done 4.6 miles. We meet up with Hickory and find he has lost his pack. Seems he wanted water back up the trail and went off about 10 to 20 yards set down his pack then went up the trail. By the time we had arrived he had been looking for an hour. We helped for about an hour then stopped for food. He said "if I had only put the pack down by this big rock like you guys" When we finished lunch he was in deep shit. All he had was a pair of shorts and a t-shirt and boots and a water bottle. No $$ No I.D. No credit cards No addresses that he had collected over the previous 4 months, no nothing no tent no food no clothes no sleeping bag this man is in deep doo-doo.

We stand up to continue the search and what is 15 feet from us.... his pack- was he a happy camper or what?

At that point we decided to quit as we still had 4.9 miles to go to the next shelter and it was already 3:30.

It was by far the toughest hike I have ever been on. We have a new Gonzo-- Malcom Goat, he just ran up the hills like it was nothing. I wonder what he could do if he hadn't run a marathon 2 days before.

Things that we learned:

a) The thru hikers had their water bladders fixed to the top of their packs with the nozzle by their mouth. No water bottles

b) They all swear by hiking poles. Every one had them.

c)They all had gaitors and most had the small ones just enough to keep the crud out of your boots.

d) Of course they all wore boots not like yours truly. I just might have to spend the $$$ and get a good pair.

e) Hickory had the thickest thermorest I have ever seen.

Said that it meant he could camp anywhere as the thicker one took out all the small roots and rocks and was well worth it for comfort.

f) The thru hikers all had sock liners also.

g)They all had tights or something to keep their legs warm in the evenings

h)They also had night caps to keep the head warm in the evenings.

One heck of a hike and now everything on the AT will be easier. Met some great people and have some memories and sore feet that will last for quite a while

The Viking