Tuesday–September 7, 2021
Location–Grafton Notch ME-26, then to The Cabin, East Andover, Margery Honey Towne, Proprietor
There is road access to near the west end of Mahoosuc Notch. A well maintained two-mile blue-blaze trail (Notch Trail) leads off Success Pond Road to the AT there. Decision is to take the Notch Trail in, then tackle the Notch in the northbound direction. There’s no easy way through the Notch, but I’m told it’s better to hike The Arm (Old Spec Mountain) from the south-to-north direction (a steep nearby climb), rather than risking the extremely steep descent in the other direction. So, that’s the rationale. Ahh, and we’ll be able to return to The Cabin this evening.
Slider & Odie (author of the very successful AT Hiker Yearbook) will be hiking with me, helping me along today. Hopper shuttles us to the Notch Trail trailhead and we’re there in good order by seven-thirty. Completing the Notch Trail, we reach and are scrambling The Notch by eight-thirty.
And The Notch? Much as I remember it from my previous two times through–an incredible stacked up disarray of boxcar-size boulders, huge scary piles of them that continue interminably for better part of a mile. Up, over, under, around and through. No semblance of anything even resembling a trail, just the least likely catastrophic way to pass. We’re in The Notch for better part of three hours. During that time I manage to wrack up my right shin. Slider & Odie bounce off everything better than me. So, they’ve managed passing through much better.
Through The Notch there’s no rest as the climb up the west flank of Old Speck (Mahoosuc Arm) begins immediately–another seemingly endless section of (nearly straight up) trail. From Old Speck it takes us another four hours to safely descend to Grafton Notch (the last half-hour in the dark), where Slider‘s van has been left for us. It’s well after nine before we’re safely back to The Cabin. Supper is waiting for us!
Just an incredibly intense day–twelve hours to hike a mere eight miles…
Time’s such a ‘plexing medium,
It’s off and then it’s on.
At times, there seems no end to it,
Yet, when we turn…it’s gone!
(N. Nomad 11-’99)