Monthly Archives: August 2014

Days 137 & 138 – Rangeley, ME

We had a good zero day Saturday. ESPN2 didn’t work at the motel, but I got to follow the PSU game on my phone and celebrate the dramatic win nonetheless. WE ARE!!

We did a little canoeing on the lake and hung out at the small hiker festival they had in town.


Seaplane taking off on Rangeley Lake

The weather was predicted to be pretty bad with thunder and lightning, so we decided to take off and rest for an extra day on Sunday, too. The next section of trail has a good bit of above-treeline hiking, so we weren’t overly keen on heading back out in storms.

This is a great little town to take our first (and probably only) “double-zero” day. It’s definitely winding down from summer tourist season though. Tomorrow morning we are heading back to the trail to continue trekking through Maine.

Day 136 – near Little Swift River Pond to ME 4 (mile 1964.9)

We had a short and easy hike today down towards the road. We passed by a few ponds and bogs and got there by 9:30am or so. We got an easy and quick hitch into town from some friendly locals. They gave us some good insider information about the town. Rangeley is about 9 miles from the trailhead and seems like a cool little tourist town. We got to our room at the Town and Lake Motel, checked in early, and then did our errands. We have a back door on our room that leads out to Lake Rangeley.


Google made this automatically awesome

Seems like a great zero day town.

Vital stats for Friday, August 29th :
Miles hiked today – 4.5
Mood – really enjoying these last zero days in cool towns
Physical state – resting up, feeling pretty run down at this point in the trip
Smell – moose in a fresh, clean lake
Song stuck in my head – Amnesia by Justin Timberlake

Day 135 – unnamed gap to near Little Swift River Pond (mile 1960.4)

We had a few sprinkles of rain last night, but nothing bad. The weather was cold, windy, and overcast most of the day, with bits of sun poking through occasionally.


Morning light near Bemis Mountain

We hiked up the small climb to Bemis and Bemis Second Peak. The second Peak had cool views.


Bemis Mountain 2nd Peak

Most of the hiking was pretty easy for Maine (which is still pretty hard), with minor ups and downs, roots, and rocks to contend with, but no major obstacles. We climbed up and crossed route 17 at lunch, with spectacular views of Mooselookmeguntic Lake (no, I did not make that name up).


Maine has been so beautiful so far. Even on a day without any major mountains, there is amazing stuff seemingly everywhere. We took an afternoon snack at Maxie Pond, which had a little sandy beach.


Maxie Pond, bigger waves than Delaware Bay / Lewes

I waded out into it for a bit and it was freezing. It feels like fall up here already. Some leaves are turning red on some trees already, too.

We hiked to the campsite at Little Swift River Pond, but it’s a popular spot and thus was pretty full, so we hiked on for a bit longer and found a stealth site in the woods instead.

Tomorrow we have a short day to get to Rangeley. We are taking a zero there to rest from the super difficult mountains of western Maine. This should be our second last zero day. We also suspect this will be the last town of any decent size that we encounter on the trail.

Vital stats for Thursday, August 28th :
Miles hiked today – 17.5
Mood – good, ready for town tomorrow
Physical state – feet and knees feeling it from the constant rocks, roots, and elevation change
Smell – medium-sized moose
Song stuck in my head – Moments in a Life by Water & Bodies

Day 134 – East B Hill Road to unnamed gap (mile 1942.9)

We hit up breakfast at the one restaurant in town this morning, the Little Red Hen. It was fantastic. They had a huge hiker breakfast for $10 including 3 huge pancakes, 3 eggs, a homemade English muffin, home fries, bacon, and sausage. I’m going to miss being such a glutton.


Part of breakfast. Note pile of empty butter to add more calories to meal.

After that, we got the shuttle back to the trail around 9:15. We had a long slow climb up to Wyman Mountain that was pretty easy. Then we had a steep descent down to Sawyer Notch, promptly followed by an extremely steep climb up Moody Mountain. Shortly after, Moody had another steep descent down to South Arm Road. Most of the climbs today though were on fairly reasonable trail, so it wasn’t as bad as Mahoosuc Monday. We had a nearly 3 mile climb following that up Old Blue Mountain. It was steady, but not too bad and again had mostly smooth trail, for New England at least.


Stone steps going up Old Blue


View from part of Old Blue climb

We descended down from there and found a nice established site not far off the trail. Overall, it was a really pleasant and temperate day for hiking.

It’s super quiet here in this spruce fir forest. Tomorrow we continue hiking toward the next town, Rangeley. Surprisingly, we have no major mountains to climb tomorrow…bummer.

Vital stats for Wednesday, August 27th :
Mountains remaining – 10 (I’m only counting 1000 feet or more in elevation)
Miles hiked today – 14.5
Mood – great
Physical state – good
Smell – small moose
Song stuck in my head – Sol Solis by Moving Mountains

Day 133 – near Grafton Notch to East B Hill Road (mile 1928.4, Andover, ME)

We had a super clear night last night. The stars were in full effect with very little light pollution. Very cool to see so so many stars visible.

Today we hiked down to Grafton Notch and crossed Route 26 in Maine. Then we climbed up the first part of the climb towards the West Baldpate Peak. The first climb up to the lean-to (aka shelter in most other states) wasn’t bad, but the last 8/10ths of a mile from there to the summit was steep as usual. They built a ton of rock steps in the trail though, so it didn’t require any scrambling or boulder hopping. We took a break on the breezy summit and chatted with some “adventurers” (what they called themselves) named Pyro and Na-Uh who have hiked a bit over a thousand miles and then “yellow-blazed” (aka hitch hiked) the rest of the trail. They were interesting folks and had some good stories. Anyway, the view was cool from West Baldpate and we could see the upcoming East Baldpate climb.


East Baldpate as seen from West Baldpate

We climbed down between the peaks and then went up that exposed granite rock area visible in the picture above.


Climb up East Baldpate

This climb was seriously awesome. It was way steep on that rock, but the views were superb and it was amazingly cool to be out on that open rock the whole time. It would have been miserable and slow if it had rained or been wet, but thankfully it was sunny and dry all day.


Views off East Baldpate

The descent down was another crazy steep and slick rock slab climb. It wasn’t too long though and shortly after it graded out pretty nicely. We ran into a crew doing some heavy duty trail maintenance and they told us they are trying to reduce some of the insanely dangerous slick rock slabs that this section of Maine is notorious for with rock steps.

The rest of the 4 miles or so of hiking were actually the easiest consecutive miles we’ve had since probably somewhere in Vermont. We got to East B Hill Road and waited with Pyro and Na-uh for the shuttle from the Pine Ellis Lodge in Andover.

Andover is a tiny little town with a general store with an attached diner, a microscopic grocery store (also with diner) that looks just like the general store, and one restaurant that closes at 2pm most days. We did our resupply, ate a lot of food at the attached diners, and relaxed for a chunk of the afternoon and evening. Tomorrow morning we head back to the trail for a few more fun climbs. We’ve read online that the section we just finished from Gorham, NH to Andover, ME is generally considered the toughest on the entire AT and we are hoping that’s true, but you never know out here.

Vital stats for Tuesday, August 26th :
Miles hiked today – 11.1
Mood – good, can’t take these days for granite
Physical state – tired
Smell – as good as it gets
Song stuck in my head – Stubborn Love by The Lumineers

Day 132 – Carlo Col Shelter to near Grafton Notch (mile 1917.3)

Belated thanks to Adam/Sabrina and Aunt Linda for the goodies in Gorham!

After a good night of sleep, we hit the trail knowing it was going to be a tough day. It was tough indeed. We had some choppy up and down climbs with occasional scrambles getting over Mount Carlo and the Goose Eye west, east, and north peaks. We popped up above the tree line numerous times.


After a morning snack at Full Goose Shelter, we made our way over Fulling Mill Mountain and then descended down to the pit of boulders known as the Mahoosuc Notch. We entered the Notch at 12:05pm and exited it at 1:25pm, so we moved at only 1 mph through it. It was cool at first, but got tiring as we went along. We had to jump between huge boulders, shimmy between them, go under some, go through some small cracks that required taking our packs off, climb up the sides of some, etc.


Pile of boulders in the Notch


One of numerous boulders to climb under

Once we completed that, the trail immediately starts climbing up the Mahoosuc Arm. This is notorious for being one of the most wicked climbs on the AT and it did not disappoint. It was 1.5 miles of insanely gnarly and difficult terrain and it did not relent for any period of time. We again moved at almost no faster than 1 mph. We originally planned to stop and stay at the shelter less than a mile beyond the summit of the Arm, but it was a bit early, so we pushed on. The next climb up over Old Speck (so many cool mountain names here in Maine) was a shorter one, but also crazy steep and precariously rocky. It was vertigo inducing, but the views were amazing.


Old Speck North side


Old Speck South side

We continued hiking down towards Grafton Notch. We found a decent spot slightly off the trail a couple tenths of a mile past a stream and called it a day since it was getting late. Maine gave us a nice, wicked, super hard welcome today. Tomorrow we are stopping in our first town in Maine, Andover, for a brief resupply.

Vital stats for Monday, August 25th :
Miles hiked today – 13.3
Mood – good, excited to be hiking in Maine
Physical state – wiped out. These 13 miles feel like 30 miles anywhere else (excluding the Whites)
Smell – getting Mainelier
Song stuck in my head – Mahoosuc (Manic) Monday by The Bangles

Day 131 – US 2 to Carlo Col Shelter (mile 1904)

We grabbed breakfast this morning in town and ran into our old homies from Virginia, Z and Gia. It was cool to see them again. They came into town from Pinkham Notch, meaning they are a couple days of hiking behind us right now. We chatted and then had to hurry to jump on a shuttle we scheduled at 9am to get back to the trail.

The first half of the day was fairly easy hiking, certainly a notch below the difficulty level of the Whites. We had some really cool parting views of the Whites and Mount Washington as we hiked away from them.


Whites and Mount Washington off in the distance from Wocket Ledge

The second half things got progressively tougher. The climb up to Mount Success was steep and on many slick rock slabs. The summit area was an interesting above-treeline open swampy thing.


Near summit of Mount Success

The descent down included some monster boulders and tough scrambles, which is probably a little preview of tomorrow.


Trail? What trail?

And then not long after that, we hit this bad boy.


Woooooooooooooooooo! Made it to Maine!

We hiked on for another half mile and then went down and set up on a raised tent platform at the shelter. It’s been very hard to find good stealth campsites lately, so we decided to go against our normal ways and stay at this shelter. This one is pretty nice and our platform is pretty far away from the old guys and their midnight chainsaw snoring machines.

Tomorrow we have probably the single most difficult section of the entire trail, the Mahoosuc Notch. It’s 1.2 miles of bouldering over and around car size boulders. Then we have the supposedly ultra tough Mahoosuc Arm climb immediately after, so we aren’t planning any huge miles.

It feels amazing to be here in Maine, the last state, after so much hiking. I can see the light shimmering and hear the wind whipping on Katahdin in my dreams as we start to draw near to her.

Vital stats for Sunday, August 24th :
Milestone – done with New Hampshire, in Maine now (state 14 of 14). Also, 1900 miles.
Miles hiked today – 17
Mood – so psyched
Physical state – tired after a big tough day with warmer weather than of late
Smell – Mainely
Song stuck in my head – Take A Walk by Passion Pit

Day 130 – Gorham, NH

Today was a nice, long, and relaxing zero day. We figured out how to get on the local bus loop, which was filled with all seemingly jovial old folks, to get out to Walmart to get some random resupply items we wanted. Ahh Walmart, seemingly the one constant near every trail town. After that, we hung out at the local coffee shop and one of the AMC White Mountain hut crews came down on their day off. They amazingly smelled just as bad, if not worse, than many thru-hikers. Impressive. We did some planning for our last few weeks out here this afternoon. We then had some pizza and drinks for dinner and that was about it. Tomorrow morning we are grabbing breakfast and then heading back to the trail. If all goes well, we should have an awesome milestone tomorrow.

Day 129 – mile 1882 to US 2 (mile 1887, Gorham, NH)

We had another night in the Whites with a lousy and super cold and raw campsite, but this one was easier to handle because we knew we had a short day of hiking into town. We climbed down the relatively easy Mount Moriah and descended to an even easier final 2 mile runway to the parking area at US 2. We finished the freaking Whites. It’s crazy because thru-hikers talk about them and how tough they are almost from the start of things way down in the south and now they are done.

We got a shuttle ride to the Libby House B&B in town and then got cleaned up, did laundry, and ate lots of food for lunch and dinner. Gorham seems like another great little town to take a zero day in. Today was really nice and relaxing and we are looking forward to the same thing tomorrow before we get back into the fun on Sunday.

Vital stats for Friday, August 22nd :
Milestone – less than 300 miles away from Katahdin
Miles hiked today – 5
Mood – awesome
Physical state – resting up
Smell – shuttle driver “doc”, who is an actual doctor, said we smelled better than dead bodies. Hopefully still true after showering.
Song stuck in my head – Mason Jar by Smallpools

Day 128 – near Pinkham Notch to mile 1882

After much nicer night in our improved campsite, we got up and almost immediately began the climb up to the Wildcat Mountains. The first trail, up to Wildcat Peak E, was very steep, but didn’t have any major scrambles.


Nearly vertical rock on Wildcats

We made it up and ate a snack by the Wildcat ski lift / gondola while a nearby construction dude assembled part of a snowmaking machine. We went over a few of the other Wildcat Peaks and then descended to our last hut, Carter Notch. The crew didn’t have any leftovers, but we managed to barter us carrying a handwritten letter for a large piece of a blueberry cake. One of the girls working at the hut wanted to send a secret letter to the caretaker named “Young Bobby” at a campsite about 7 miles up the trail. I thought it was funny that the workers here in the Whites have to fall back to old school letters to communicate since cell coverage is so bad. We took our leave with the letter to Young Bobby in hand and climbed up Carter Dome. We didn’t think this climb was too bad despite being quite steep, also. We had some other mountains to traverse in the afternoon called the Carter Mountains and one called Height Mountain. We had some great views of the other mountains from them.



There was a pretty tough climb with a number of scrambles to get down from the Carters. We delivered the letter to the Imp campsite (Young Bobby was not there, but the other caretaker promised to give it to him) and then continued on. We intended to camp below Moriah Mountain, but couldn’t find anything good. We pressed on and climbed over the summit. We had nice late evening views as we went over it.


Moriah Mountain view

We found a tight camp spot part way down the descent. We are now roughly 5 miles from Gorham and are pretty much done with the Whites. Craziness.

Vital stats for Thursday, August 21st :
Miles hiked today – 15.8
Mood – psyched that we got through the Whites, excited to have time off tomorrow and Saturday to recover
Physical state – beat, without a doubt this has been our hardest section of the AT thus far and there’s not even a remotely close second
Smell – Outback bloomin’ onion soaked in ammonia and vinegar
Song stuck in my head – Don’t You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds