Tuesday July 11, 2017
Grafton Notch, Pine Ellis Hostel 9.7 miles
Total mileage 899
When I woke up this morning I really didn’t feel like hiking. I felt like I could really go back to sleep. There was a chance of rain and I had Mahoosec Notch, Mahoosec Arm and Old Speck Mountain on the plate for today. Which I was nervous about. Mahoosec Notch is the hardest mile of the trail or funnest (if your psyho) with boulders as big as cars that you have to climb over, around or even under. Mahoosec Arm is very steep and I hadn’t heard anything about Old Speck.
So I really wasn’t looking forward to today. I finally decided not to take a zero in my tent today and that I needed to get going. I got up to get my food bag from the bear box and go to the bathroom and there was a group of four that were about to head north. They must have come in after I went to bed last night. I got really excited because it meant that I may be able to follow them through the Notch. I still had to pack up all my gear and eat breakfast, but maybe if I was quick I could catch them. They said they were slow and just section hikers so there was a chance. I quickly got things packed up and ate breakfast and was on the trail at 6:30 am.
Lucky for me they took a break just before the Notch and I caught up to them. We packed away our trekking poles. We wouldn’t be needing them. SLIM JIM took the lead with LEAD DOG, SMALLS, TINY PANTS and ME following in the rear. SLIM JIM really scouted out the best route for us and we all followed. There were a couple of areas that we had to remove our packs to fit/crawl through and there were a couple of areas where SLIM JIM gave us a pull up or hand to hang onto. It was a little nerve racking for me, but I made it through it. I was so thankful to have caught up to this group. It took us just over two hours to get through this mile.
Now that I have done it once I think it would be pretty fun to do it without a pack on with a group again.
Next was Mahoosec Arm. The group I was with all stopped for a water/snack break. I filled up my water bottle ate a snack and headed out before the rest. I had to pee and didn’t want to go near a water source so I moved on. I started up the Arm and soon put my trekking poles away. There were a lot of slate rock areas on the way up and my poles are no good on areas like that. It is just easier to grab a tree and pull yourself up. It was a hard climb up and my legs were starting to feel week and worn out, but at least there were no scary areas.
Now Old Speck was a different story. It was steep open exposed rock slate climbing with no tree to hang on to, but some how I made it through it. I am still scared during these climbs but I’m not freezing and having a panic attack.
It was a very long and exhausting 10 mile/10 hour day. I was being picked up by a hostel, Pine Ellis Hostel, and I didn’t plan to take a zero but after today I was definitely taking a day off.
The shuttle driver, DAVID, picked me up and we headed to the hostel. He was Indian with dark skin and long black hair with sliver and turquoise jewelry on. I was in the vehicle for about 20 minutes going down this really worn out and old back road when it occurred to me “where the hell is this guy taking me?” It was only a $15. shuttle how far away was the hostel. I learned that Andover, ME is 40 minutes away from the trailhead that I got picked up from. I couldn’t believe how cheep the shuttle was. Andover, is a tiny town with one four way stop in the middle.