As we crossed the state line from New Hampshire into Maine, and push on through the final couple of weeks of this hike (we have plans to finish September 5th or a bit before), we find that even though the trail is not as tough as the White Mountains of New Hampshire, there is a lot of tough stuff left.
Some of the mountains here are as steep as the Whites in New Hampshire. We also went through what’s known as the hardest, slowest mile of the entire Appalachian Trail, the Mahoosic Notch, which is a boulderfield playground if you’re in the mood for it and not in a hurry; it’s a cause for cursing if you’re one who’s trying to do big miles fast. Some boulders you climb over, some you crawl under. On occasion, you need to take off your pack and push it through a crevice ahead of you since you won’t fit through yourself with your pack on. We took the Notch slowly, and still were not left entirely unscathed! A good bumper sticker might read “I left skin in Mahoosic Notch!” This stuff is hard!
We found ourselves on a trail detour, due to blasting for road construction. It added about a mile to yesterday’s hike. You try to make plans for the day so you don’t have to finish in the near darkness and someone adds another mile to your day! This stuff is hard!
We had great weather yesterday and today, but it seems the warmth has brought out the mosquitoes. Thought we had left those behind! But Maine is so wet (so far), when it’s warm it’s probably as good a “skeeter” breeding ground as New Jersey. The water makes the trail difficult. “Roots, rocks, and mud” is all we heard from southbounders about what would greet us in Maine. So far, they’re 100 % right! “Bogboards” are installed on the trail in many places to keep you out of the mud, but they aren’t always where you need them, and woe to you if you slip off! The mud can be deep. This stuff is hard!
Then again, there are some delights, like wonderful views of the mountains and ponds, and being greeted at a parking area by two tiny Trail Angels (who already have trail names, Spartacus and Louweasel) with their dad, who thru-hiked several years ago. The gave me whopping candy bars, and some to pass along to CLiCK! and Chainsaw. And finally today, I got a great hitch into Rangeley from a guy named Chris and his buddy, Mike. Chris was loaded with qustions about the hike as he is contemplating a thru-hike in the near future. His most important question was, “Is it worth it?” I thought for a few seconds and said, “It’s worth every minute, day, week and month on the trail, but THIS STUFF IS HARD!”
It’s hardest being away from home for so long. I say that I can feel Katahdin pulling at me, but I think it’s home that’s pulling me. Susan wants me home, and I miss her terribly. It’ll soon be done!