Mahoosuc Notch

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Aug 29 , 1983 Monday (289.3 mtg) From Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

Got up early and departed before any of the others were ready to go. Today I would enter Maine! The first two miles took me up to the summit of Mt. Success. I do not know why this mountain is named "Success," unless it has something to do with its proximity to the border of the last state the Appalachian Trail goes through. Within two miles, anyone having hiked from Georgia would soon be successful at having hiked from Georgia to Maine. I reached the New Hampshire/Maine border at 8:47 am this morning and set up the self timer on my camera to record the event. This was the last stretch of the trail, I had been through thirteen states, and this would be the last. It had been a long, grueling trip, and the reality of having come this far was hard to comprehend. My goal was not completed however, and many things could happen before I finished the remaining 279 miles.

I encountered some hikers on Goose Eye Mountain after some climbs up vertical rock faces. The trail in Maine did not get any less strenuous than in New Hampshire it seemed. Coming off of Goose Eye North peak, I stopped at Full Goose Shelter only to find two slumbering hikers curled up tightly in their sleeping bags. I could not make out who they were, but while I sat and ate my lunch, one of them awoke and I immediately recognized her as Sally, a girl I had met in the Great Smoky Mountains. It is amazing how people I met long ago keep showing up now and then. She was traveling with Marty, "the Mad Pollock," who I had also met earlier in the season. Apparently they had skipped up to the Maine section and enjoyed it so much they were traveling back and forth, over and over again. Then I met the guy who let me in to the Post Office at Mt Washington the other day. Then I met others I had not met yet, the caretaker of the campsite at Speck Pond, and a former thru-hiker.

I left the shelter with an immediate climb up the side of Fulling Mill Mountain. The trail did not go to the summit, but around the west side and down to the entrance of Mahoosuc Notch, the most famous Notch along the trail. The trail travels through the notch for about a mile. Not far, but considered the toughest mile on the Appalachian Trail. Boulders from the side of Fulling Mill Mountain and Mahoosuc Mountain had broken off and collected in the notch between them. The boulders ranged in size from as large as Volkswagens to the size of houses! For one mile the trail goes over, under and between the rocks in this rubblefield. It is said that snow accumulations from the previous winter have remained deep within the crevices well into July as the notch is so deep the sun never gets in to melt the buildup. Arrows painted on the rocks are utilized in this section to help navigate through the rough terrain, and at times you must take off your pack and either push it through ahead of you, or pull it through afterwards as you go through the cracks between touching boulders. It is the home of the legendary "Notch Monster," the monster that can emerge and break your legs as you make your way through.

I felt confident as I hopped from rock to rock, going as fast as I could through the notch as if I had some record to set. I stopped for a drink from the icy cold waters running beneath the rocks in the small stream that is heard more than seen. I blasted right through with only one encounter with the Notch Monster that almost broke my leg when my foot placement resulted in a cave-in. Instead of camping at the far end of the notch as I had thought about earlier, I decided to go up Mahoosuc Arm and down to Speck Pond Shelter "because I knew that it was going to rain." The climb up the arm was a killer. The monster would not let anyone go without a fight as the trail led practically straight up for a couple of miles before dipping down to the shore of Speck Pond. Upon arriving, I spotted "Lan A.T. Hiker", put down my pack, immediately went to get some water, and afterwards stepped into the shelter just as the rain began to fall by the bucketful! Lan had been at the shelter all day. Not feeling well, she decided not to hike today. Two other hikers were there too, Rob Hoeper and Butch Fries. The view of the Pond toward the outlet and into infinity was particularly beautiful, and calming.

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983

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