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