The southern most 10 miles of the Appalachian Trail in Maine will not let you walk out of the state – you have to crawl. Mahoosic Notch, as it is called, is a one mile boulder field with steep mountains trapping you inside the gnarly granite landscape. There is snow and ice on the ground and between the boulders late into the summer, and there is a dead moose carcass in the middle of the rocks to remind you what will happen if you don’t make it out.
All that being said, I went prepared into these trenches, because on my steep descent down into the notch I made up some advice. Usually my made up advice doesn’t get me very far, but this time the notion entered my head to keep at least 3 contact points on the rocks at all times: so at any one time I would have a tri-combination of right-hand, left-hand, right-foot, left-foot, and butt on boulder at all point. The game plan served me extremely well, I oozed slowly and steadily through the jagged granite, despite the rain and mist. TAKE THAT MAINE!
Yes, buh-bye Maine, Hello New Hampshire! Although, most people would argue that the White Mountains of New Hampshire are the toughest section of the Appalachian Trail, I think the ruggedness of Southern Maine far outweighs the climbs and descents of the White Mountains. Really, my biggest worry in the White Mountains was that I would be caught above tree line in an electrical storm. Thankfully, all thunder and lightning in New Hampshire came while I was below tree-line. I did have some extreme fog and strong winds set in while climbing up Mount Washington, but there were large cairns within 15 yards of each other marking the path and guiding me to the top.
On that note, New Englanders (or rather New England Tourists) are obsessed with Mount Washington. It felt like Disney World on the top, except looking around it was quite clear that everyone else had either driven or ridden the Cog train to the top.
On the note of the Cog Train, it is a thru-hiker tradition to moon the Cog. I, however, have always found this tradition immature and unseemly – families ride that train to the top and no child needs to see yucky thru-hiker bottoms. But the train does make a lot of noise and it blows an ungodly amount of smoke and all this I tolerated until half a mile from the summit when the white fog turned brown and the obnoxious obstruction to the mountain not only surrounded me in thick smog that smelled worse than a thru-hiker, but it also lodged debris in my eye. I did not need this! I could hardly see the cairns through the poor visibility as it was and now the cog had blinded me. Knowing that the train was very very close, but not being able to see it, I – in a fit of rage – pulled my shorts down and pointed it towards the loud blowing horn. Admittedly, no one saw me (and that is partly why I did it), but boy did I feel better!
All and all, the Whites were awesome. They asked a lot out of me, but they gave a lot back. I had some phenomenal views and made some lasting memories. It all sort of hit me when Brew and I were able to camp on top of Kinsman Mountain in this perfect camping spot with a view of the sun setting behind us and Franconia Ridge lit up before us. I am going after this amazing dream and it is so hard, but so beautiful. I am so fortunate to be spending the summer on the Appalachian Trail with my husband. I feel very blessed.