Mahoosuc Notch Hike
Hiking/Walk DATE: 08/07/2010 - 08/07/2010
Trip/Event Location: Berlin, NH
Trip Leader(s): Gandalf
Max # People: 15
Trip Guiding / Event Fee: No, I will not be asking participants for money
Difficulty Level: Moderate to Strenuous
This is the most difficult section of the Appalachian Trail, but also the most fun!
Per SummitPost: "The Notch is a fine and grueling day hike in the Mahoosuc Range, or an obstacle...
We are meeting at the Speck Pond Trail to spot cars. Take Route 16 North from Gorham, NH. Take a right onto Route 16 Truck Route (Unity Street). This will become Coos Street, then Hutchins Street. Take a right onto a road with a brown OHRV sign (Success Pond Road). Head up this dirt road for around 11.4 miles. Take right fork of the road [marked by "Speck Mt. Trail, Rt. 26" painted on a boulder], and continue 0.8 mile to the trailhead [sign]. There is parking on the left just beyond the trailhead, opposite the entrance to Speck Pond Road. We are driving a blue FJ Cruiser.
Many of us camped over the weekend at Moose Brook State Park where each night we encountered our regular visitor: the local black bear. Jon scared him away from our campsite Friday night. When he returned Saturday night he snatched Bob's and Fernando's pizza off the picnic table while we were chatting besides the campfire.
Eight experienced GO hikers got together to conquer the Mahoosuc Notch. We geared up and got out there bright and early for a day hike loop through the western mountains of Maine.
Our point of entry was up Success Pond Road where we would spot cars at the end of the Speck Pond Trail and drive to our start, the Notch Trail. Once we reached the trailhead, we stretched out, and headed up. We crossed a stream a couple of times on our way up the Notch trail and then we reached the Mahoosuc Trail where the fun begins. We met up with a couple of thru-hikers in their 20's and chatted it up for a bit. They were in terrific shape as we saw them ahead us moving quickly through the notch with their 40 pound backpacks. The summer so far has been great for thru-hiking with little rain. The simmering heat wave hit them while travelling through New York and the trail in this state does not have much water. They had to knock on people's doors for water. A retired woman said to them, "I'll give you water but using the bathroom is where I draw the line." We all laughed.
Our pace was easy going, and we hopped, jumped and crawled our way following the white blazes through the boulder field. It was nice and cool in the notch and it added to what was a perfect, fair weather clouds type of day. We stopped for a rest about 3/4 of the way thru. Jon remarked how the notch looked real intimidating when he first saw it but now that he is going thru, it's most enjoyable. This is the GayOutdoors version of fun!
After the notch we had lunch as we checked and compared scrapes and scratches. With the boulder field behind us, the trip gets even more exciting going up the side of Mahoosuc Arm.
We finally caught up to Markus at the stream crossing that marked the start of the Arm. We had not seen him in a couple of hours so we had to grade him an 'F' for group activities and for not playing well with others. :-) [However he did stick with us the rest of the hike!]
For those that heard tales about the Mahoosuc Notch being the 'toughest mile on the AT," well in my opinion it's the Arm that gets you. We climbed up steep rock and root faced angles. It's a bear of a climb, but also fun. When I say fun, it really was a great time up the mountain. They don't have switchbacks here in Maine, and I liked the fact that the trail went straight up the mountain. We reached what I like to call the SOB corner. It's one of about half a dozen on the Arm that as you approach, you think to yourself this had to be last of the hard stuff and after a 20 degree turn it goes straight back up the face of mountain. "Son of a b****!"
As the birches and hardwoods dwindle into alpine forests of stunted firs, our legs were barking. "What a pretty place" I said to myself through my deep breaths over and over. We took a breather and some pics just shy of the summit overlooking Mahoosuc Notch and Sunday River ski area in the distance. It was breezy up here and some of us put on an extra layer. We continued on to serene Speck Pond. At about 80 acres, Speck Pond is beautiful, with an oval shape. At 3500', it is one of the highest ponds in Maine. The Mahoosuc Arm looming high above it adds a wondrous feeling to this most mysterious and marvelous area. Bob took a swim and we snacked along the shore of the pond. After that we were back down into the forest using the Speck Pond Trail into the hardwoods and birch groves. There were many moose droppings along the trail on the way down too.
As we approached the end of the trail we snacked on some wild raspberries. It was a grand hike travelling 9.2 miles in 9 hours. We had a blast and will certainly be back!
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What Members Are Saying About This Trip/Event
- Stellar territory, good people. I picked rasberries & the bear got the pizza-what's up with that? Thanks for picking that one guys! Peace Up,M - markmtn