Goodbye New Hampshire, Hello Maine!: Days 70-78

Mile 847.6 – 946.6, 7/10/19-7/18/19

A quick note: this post, and the next, are written well after the events in them. I was pretty bad about writing in my journal while in Maine and New Hampshire, so it won’t be big on the details. But if you’re just here for the pretty pictures, I got you.

Also, if you want an update on where I am, real time, I summited Katahdin on Aug. 3, and am currently on a long trip (domestic and international) within my hiking trip. I’m heading back to Harper’s Ferry soon though!

Day 70: 5.9 miles

Pinkham Notch to Carter Notch Hut

When we got into Gorham, I had assumed that meant that the Whites were over. Technically, they were, but I learned from Twinkletoes that apparently the Wildcats, the next few mountains north, are considered just as hard. I didn’t really believe it though, since the Whites had been really hard.

Well, I don’t know if it was being tired from the Whites, not having had a zero in a while, or what, but that climb out of Pinkham Notch was in fact pretty hard. Twinkletoes, despite coming off a two day sickness, twinkled up pretty quickly, followed by Salty, Hotman, and I. When we got to the top of Wildcat D peak, we had lunch at a picnic table and enjoyed the views that were only partly obscured by the ski lifts.

After lunch we headed on to the actual top of Wildcat Mtn, which was wooded. There was a side trail to see views, but ain’t nobody got time for side trails. It was then a short walk to Carter Notch Hut, where we had just planned to have a break and get water before continuing on.

At the hut (the last of the AMC huts, and which I forgot to take pictures of), we sat around, really not moving. Twinkletoes started talking up Work-for-Stays at the huts, which he had already done but Salty, Hotman, and I had not. None of us really wanted to continue the 7ish miles to the campsite we had been planning on staying at, so we eventually asked the Cru (the college kids who work the huts) if we could stay. They agreed! It ended up being us and one SOBO. Dinner was great, and all we had to do was a few easy chores. I wiped down shelves in the kitchen, while Salty inventoried damage to windows, Hotman washed dishes, and Twinkletoes removed ice from the fridge. I’m glad we did WFS at one hut, since it is a traditional thru-hiker thing to do at least once.

Day 71: 15.2 miles

Carter Notch Hut to US 2

We decided to not stick around for breakfast in the morning. Free breakfast isn’t so great when you have to wait for everyone to finish so you can wash dishes. Takes away from valuable hiking time. Headed up to Carter Dome, then South Carter, Middle Carter, and North Carter. Mt Moriah was the last bug mountain before we headed down to US 2, where the Rattle River Hostel awaited us.

Rattle River was a very cool hostel, and I recommend it to anyone! We got a shuttle back into Gorham to resupply for our next section.

Day 72: 11.8 miles

Gentian Pond Shelter

As per usual, we dilly-dallied around the hostel and left in the late morning. It was misty and cool, but for the first hour or so there wasn’t real rain. Eventually the ran did come, but the terrain was pretty easy all the way to the shelter. This made me feel confident that, despite was everyone said, southern Maine (which we’d be reaching tomorrow) wasn’t going to be that bad.

Day 73: 9.6 miles

Gentian Pond Shelter to Full Goose Shelter

Orginally the plan for today had been to go to Spec Pond Shelter, a 15ish mile day. Salty, Hotman, and I reached Full Goose Shelter, just under 10 miles, around 3. We were all feeling really tired and just worn out. The Mahoosucs (the mountains in southern Maine) are hard… We texted Twinkletoes, who had twinkled ahead, that we were stopping here for the day. We just didn’t think it was wise to push on 5 more miles, especially considering one of those miles was Mohoosuc Notch, sometimes called the toughest mile on the AT.

During the 10 miles we did do today, we crossed into Maine!

Day 74: 12 miles

Full Goose Shelter to Bald Plate Lean-to

We got a late start out of camp (the three of us have gotten really lazy). Hotman and I got to Mahoosuc Notch around 10 or so. Mahoosuc Notch is a mile of rocks scrambling/climbing/crawling that is called either the toughest or funnest mile of the AT, depending on your disposition. Either way, it can take a while to do. Hotman and I took about an hour and a half to climb, crawl, and bend our way through.

After the notch it was a steep climb up to Mahoosuc Arm, then a relatively simple (but hard) hike to Bald Plate Lean-to.

Day 75: 8 miles

Bald Plate Lean-to to East B Hill Road

We had a pretty easy today, since we had only 8 miles to the road crossing where our destination for the night, the Human Nature Hostel, sent a shuttle there everyday at 4:30 to pickup whatever hiker trash (human and actual) they found.

The hike up Baldplate was hard, but had great views!

Then we had a pretty chill last few miles, following a stream with lots of great cascades.

Just before the road was a great place to stick your feet in the water, which pretty much everyone who was waiting for the shuttle ending up doing. These two retired guys who were sectioning, Grandpa and Just Greg, showed up. They seemed really familiar and they said the same thing about me. We couldn’t figure out why until we realized we had met in Pennsylvania! They thru-hiked in 2016 and since then have been doing sections again to prepare for a PCT hike next year. When I met them in PA, I think it was day 8 or something for me. Crazy how small the trail is!

At the hostel, this was further confirmed by the presence of Cinnamon Ricky, Nick, and Turbo, the Mad lads! The British boys were heading back across the pond the next day, so it was really cool to see them one last time.

Day 76: 0 miles

Though we’d had lots of short days, we hadn’t had a full zero day since before the Whites, so we decided to stay at the Human Nature Hostel another night. It is a perfect place to zero! It’s this really cool dome, built by a former thru-hiker. Dinner was great, and the all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast is hiker heaven. Very relaxing place to rest.

Day 77: 18.8 miles

East B Hill Rd to Bemis Mtn. Lean-to

We decided that after the zero, our days of being lazy were behind us, so we wanted to get to Rangley in 2 days. The terrain was supposed to be easier than the Mahoosucs, so we were tentatively confident we could do big miles again. A whole crew of us left from the hostel, including the 3 of us, B (who we had previously met in Vermont), Buckwild (who we met in the Whites), and some other NOBOs. Buckwild, B, and the other guy they were hiking with (whose name I have forgot) were also planning on getting to Rangley in 2 days. We ended up seeing them off and on throughout the day.

It was chilly and drizzling when the shuttle dropped us off, which is never how you want it to be when you leave a hostel. It was a relatively easy 10 miles to the next road crossing, ups and downs but nothing terribly steep.

At the road crossing, where all of us stopped for a bit (a “union break”, as Salty calls it), there was a trash can which some nice person had left so hikers could leave their trash. Above the trash can, some hiker had thrown their old shoes over a branch, because apparently throwing them in the trash was just too much effort. Salty got very inventive and eventually got them down. It’s always nice to have entertainment with your snacks.

After that we had a steep climb up Old Blue and then Bemis Mountain. Salty and Hotman are faster than me on the uphills, so I was hiking alone for a while. The drizzling that had been off and on all day gave way to real rain, making an already tiring day even harder. I caught up to the boys at a bench, where they had stopped to take in the non-existent views.

We got some nice views right before making it to the shelter just as the sun was setting. B, Buckwild and their mystery third came in just behind us.

Day 78: 17.7 miles

Bemis Mountain Shelter to ME 4

We headed out after Buckwild but before B. About 5 miles into our hike Hotman and I got to the ME Rt 17 road crossing, where there was a great view and a bench to appreciate it.

We were planning staying at the the Hiker Hut at Rangley, where Hotman and I had sent new shoes. We had passed a SOBO who said it was a pretty small place, so we decided to give them a call and make a reservation. B came up just as we were talking about this and asked if we would increase our reservation from 3 to 6. When I called the Hiker Hut the owner said he had just had another group of hikers call and fill the place up. We panicked slightly until we texted Twinkletoes, who said he had stayed at Fieldstone Cottages. He said the owner might even come and pick us up. B called and we were able to book two cabins for the 6 of us, and we got a ride into town!

Our 12 miles or so to town were pretty easy, though I did get a little stressed, the way I always do when there’s a time constraint on trail. The most exciting thing? I saw a bobcat (or lynx?) while hiking! Never ended up seeing a moose in Maine, but this made up for it.

We got to the road crossing, walked to the Hiker Hut, picked up our shoes, and then Stacy, the great owner of Fieldstone Cottages, picked us up and took us into town. Dinner, and then great showers and real beds!

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