Day 1 – To the max

Grafton Notch, ME to South B Hill Road: 10.1 miles

Betsy dropped me off at the point at Grafton Notch where the AT crosses ME 26. Veteran AT hikers identify Southern Maine as the most difficult part of the entire AT. Today’s hike started well with a 2,150-foot climb up Baldpate West Peak. This was steep, but not too steep. I called Betsy from the summit to check in. On the 500-foot descent to a saddle, I enjoyed a grand view of Baldpate West (see photo).

The 1.7-mile descent to Frye Notch lean-to proved much harder. My “going up” muscles are much stronger than “my going down” muscles. After lunch with three other hikers at the Frye Gap lean-to, a 500-foot climb to a ridge wasn’t a problem. But the 4 mile descent that followed was all that I could handle. I fell once and banged my left shin; I had to stop frequently to rest. At last, I reached Dunn Gorge and Falls. I wasn’t sure if I could hike another 0.7 miles to East B Hill Road. Following a suggestion from one on my lunch companions, I called the Red Hen Restaurant in Andover to see if they would pick me up at the road. They would!

With all my remaining energy, I reached the road and got a ride into town. After setting up my tent (with 6 others) behind the restaurant, I took a shower and ate dinner. My lucky day-all you can eat Italian food! Tomorrow, I will leave most of my gear in my tent and take only what I need for the 11-mile day hike to the next road crossing, from which I’ll hitch to Andover. Slack packing- as it’s called- should help me negotiate even steeper terrain tomorrow.

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