Appalachian Trail 2010

The Song of the Loon

We officially walked to Maine! It was very exciting to see this sign! The book said that the state line was this yellow paint spot but I wasn’t expecting to see a sign since the majority of our previous state lines didn’t have anything. There is a sticker that I see frequently at outfitters, one I will have to get, that says “Yes, I walked here from Georgia”. Yes, folks, I walked here from Georgia. Can you believe that? That saying comes because when you run into someone, usually a person who isn’t familiar with the trail, they are always incredulous that you’ve walked that far. Sometimes I think it is insane. The southern half of the trail seems foreign and long ago. Not 4.5 months ago.

lunch time panorama
Upon leaving Gorham we had a fairly nice 12 miles to the Gentian Pond shelter that offered a beautiful view of the White Mountains. But after that our nice trail was gone and New Hampshire tried to tighten it’s grips on us and then tossed us to Maine, which immediately put a choke hold on us, too. You see, we leave the White Mountains and enter the Mahoosuc Range. The key letters are Suc(k), because they truly do suck. Beautiful, but sucky. The photo above is on a false top of one of the Gooseye Mtns where we had lunch.

Misti in 'the notch'
And then you come to a little thing called the Mahoosuc Notch. It’s legend and lore. Every thru-hiker knows about it. It looms in the back of your head because it is called the toughest mile on the trail. It’s really 1.1 miles and ended up being 90% fun, 10% pain in the ass. What it is is a big pile of boulders that you have to scramble on, under, around and sometimes it takes an hour for fast people, but it took us 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Misti on the AT
Half the time you have to scoot down a rock and hope to land safely. We started at about 4:15 and thought it’d take an hour, but we came out the other side at 6pm and had intended to continue another 2.5 miles to a campsite/shelter and go up the Mahoosuc Arm. The Mahoosuc Arm doesn’t get talked about as much, but it is straight up a slick rock slab for about a mile and a half. It’s 90% pain in the ass and 10% fun. When we came out the end of the notch we found our friends Cubbie and Dilly Dally with camp set up and we all decided to pitch our tents there and cover the Arm the next morning. Good idea. It would have been after 8pm before we got into camp.

After Grafton Notch the trail seemed to get easier. Well, easier than it had been. We had a good two miles or so of trail until we climbed up to Baldpate Mtns where there we scrambled up open rock just as a rain shower came through and we leaned into tropical storm force winds. Beautiful but windy! Somehow the next day we ended up being able to do 10 miles before lunch! WOOO! Oh, that felt so nice. We planned to camp near a road after hearing from Southbounders that a good campsite was there and once we got to the road it was nearly 4 pm. Awesome! Early camp! But, you see, we left Gorham with six days of food and carrying six days of food is really, really heavy so we all skimped on snacks. Luckily we weren’t too far from the town of Andover so four of us split a shuttle to and from town and ate dinner at a general store/diner and got more snacks and came back and set up camp! Ahhhh, full bellies!

Yesterday was pretty nice. We had beautiful weather all day long and climbed up Old Blue Mtn and over the Bemis range. We made 17 miles by 5pm! Our first 17 since before the Whites! I think we’ll have a few more slower days until right after Stratton because we have to go up Saddleback Range, Sugarloaf, Crocker Mtns and the Bigelows but we hear after the Bigelows everything gets much easier and I think we can start pumping out some miles. It’s kinda hard to estimate the date now, but in about two weeks we’ll be done. I would guess by Monson we’ll know for sure…and Monson is really only about a week away!

We have a mail drop in Caratunk and our next time in town will be Monson so you won’t hear from us until then and then after that will be Abol Bridge which is 15 miles from Katahdin, so potentially only one more post here and then we’ll summit! It’s getting exciting!!!

Oh, the title of the post is because last night I heard loons for the first time and this morning saw them on Sabbath Day pond. Excellent!

Oh and Maine broke my left hiking pole. Thank you Maine. 😉 Leki is going to ship replacement parts to Monson, thank goodness, but until then I am being called “one pole”, which plays off of “one paw” our nickname for Leo. He sometimes lays with just one paw out, lounging like a lion.

!!!!!!!! I’m doing the happy dance can you tell?


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