Back at the Appalachian Trail – Day 14

The featured attraction of the day was Mahoosuc Notch, a mile-long slot filled with giant boulders between two steep hillsides. It's reputed to be the hardest mile on the AT. I arrived at the southern end after walking 1.5 miles. For two hours, I scrambled over, under, and under boulders, shedding my pack three times to wriggle thru narrow openings and scraping my knees several times. After exiting the Notch, I gained 1,500 ft of elevation to the summit of Mahoosuc Arm where I rested for a few minutes with other hikers I met at last night's shelter. Olive took the attached photo of my shins. I dropped down to the Spect Pond shelter still under construction. After lunch at the shelter with the other hikers, I climbed 600 ft over several steep rock faces to Old Spect Mountain. I then began a 3.5-mile descent to Grafton Notch and Hwy 16. The trail wasn't ridiculously steep, but I fell twice, once on a wet roof and once on a slippery rock. Both legs hurt from the day's exertions. I realized that I have little confidence in staying upright on wet, slanting rocks or maintaining my balance. I'm concerned that I'll fall, suffer serious injury, and need to be rescued. Thus, I decided to end my AT hike. I've given it my best shot but it wasn't enough. I finally reached the parking lot at Grafton Notch totally spent. Other hikers were milling about. I didn't know exactly where I wanted to go except to find a place to stay for the night and get clean. I asked a woman, Vivian, who walked by if she could give me a ride to Bethel, which I heard would have a motel and food. She agreed to give me and fellow hiker Action Jackson a ride. I mentioned that I'd like to get to Portland, ME to see my cousin Bill whom I haven't seen for 20 years. She said that she was going to Portland and that I could ride with her. What a stroke of luck! Action Jackson went grocery shopping in Bethel, while we continued south. I called cousin Bill to see if he could put me up for the night at his home in Cape Elizabeth next to Portland. He was happy to hear from me. It turned out that Vivian lived about a mile from Bill. She dropped me off at his front door. I met Bill's kids and grand kids who must have been perplexed by my appearance. After a shower I felt much improved. What a day. I hiked 9.7 miles in 10 hours. It was the hardest day of hiking I can remember.

2 Responses

  1. If resting and renewing at Bill’s does not cause you to change your mind and continue the trek, I hope rather then disappointment you feel good about the undertaking. Maureen & I are currently in Port Aransas, Texas where I consider a 20 mile bike ride a nice accomplishment. Congratulations on setting such a lofty goal and giving it your very best. That’s very special in and of itself.

    Charles Grubb
  2. Dang, Alan. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve ended your hike (I was in the mountains for the last week so wasn’t able to follow your progress again until today).

    NH/ME is a whole different animal, but you are an incredibly strong hiker and I’m glad I’ve gotten to know you since meeting you on the AT last year.

    On to your next adventure! CDT ’18? I was just down in that neck of the woods and crossed the CDT on Wolf Creek Pass … now I’m dreaming….


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