Day 127: Carlo Col Shelter

Day 127. Well, today went a bit differently. I’m not sure if the trail was significantly worse for them, or if the guys were too worn out from yesterday’s hike, but we didn’t go far today. The main obstacle of the morning was Mt. Success, a 3,500 foot mountain with some pretty steep sections of climbing. We reached the top sometime around noon, meaning our pace was a slower 1 mph compared to yesterday’s 2. We were still a couple miles from our mid-point of today’s hike though (the Carlo Col Shelter), so I pushed the crew further and we eventually reached the campground at 2:30. Then we discussed our situation, everyone’s feelings, and our options.

Side note, we crossed into Maine after coming down Mt. Success! I didn’t realize it at the time and didn’t see the signpost calling it out, but I’m officially in my final state and on my way to Katahdin. Woot!

The fatigue in my friends faces was a bit worrisome. We still had plenty of time to hike the 4.5 miles to the next campground (Full Goose Shelter), but the weather was becoming more of an issue as well. The heat was intense, the steep rocky sections were slow-going, and thunderstorms were on the horizon. With 3 more climbs up Goose Eye West Peak, Goose Eye East Peak, and Fulling Mill Mountain still to come in the day … the crew decided to audible the trip again.

On my own, I would not be as concerned, but there were two real problems with visitors to the AT that concerned me:

First, if we go on, we start tomorrow’s hike with Mahoosic Notch and the Mahoosic Arm. The Notch is considered the “hardest mile on the AT”, as it requires maneuvering under, over, and through giant boulders at a snail’s pace. You literally have to throw your poles and bag through a narrow rock gap, then squeeze yourself through, then slowly navigate to the next hole. It’s a 0.8 mile section that takes thruhikers an hour to complete, in good conditions. Following that, is the climb of Mahoosic Mountain known as the Arm. This is one of the steepest climbs, as the trail rises 1500 feet in 1 mile. I’ve read countless stories of hikers breaking bones, getting lost, and even dying in this section of trail in bad conditions. There is no phone service if needed, and no exit point to civilization if something goes wrong. Doing this trail if it has rained in the past few days even, creates a water slide of life-threatening proportions. And we have 90% chance of rain and thunderstorms from 5am to 2pm tomorrow.

Which brings up fear #2, if we don’t make it over the Arm and down the steep descent to Grafton Notch at the bottom, we may not have another way to get off the trail. The guys all have flights to catch on Saturday and we need to get them back to the car in Gorham by tomorrow night. With the change in pace today, I’m finding it hard to believe we could finish the 4.5 miles today and have much left in the tank to do the 10 tomorrow needed before dark. It’s obviously doable, but adds significantly more risk.

So, with those very real concerns in mind, we discussed our situation, options, and preferences. I won’t call anyone out, but let’s just say some of us wanted to take on the challenge while others wanted to avoid widowing their wives. We scouted out a blue blaze side trail that leads from this shelter off the mountain and made the wise decision to stay here tonight, hike out the 2.5 miles from here in the morning, and get picked up at the trailhead below.

In truth, this was a smart decision, but also an enjoyable one. With a whole afternoon together sans-hiking, we hung out, caught up on each other’s lives, went for a swim in the river, and ate dinner in comfort. We then stayed up late into the evening storytelling and laughing with Gandalf and Much Obliged who wandered in later. We stayed up until nearly midnight (another record for me on the trail) and I spent the final moments lying in front of the shelter just staring at the stars. It was a nice Nero Day for me in the woods, and none of my friends died on the trail … win win.

Hello Neiman (Sharkbait)!

  • Start Mile: 1904.4
  • Start Time: 09:00
  • End Mile: 1909.6
  • End Time: 14:30
  • Miles Hiked: 5.2
  • Miles to Go: 281.3
  • Lodging: Carlo Col Shelter

10 thoughts on “Day 127: Carlo Col Shelter

  1. Just let your friends know that your nephews are a bit tougher! and I want to hear their night time remarks. Actually think you made a great choice – fun is whats most important. Love your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your honesty! Thanks, as always!

    We are picking up Jack at Katahdin on Monday, but I will still be following your journey! It’s so strange being on this side of your blog. You share so much of yourself that I really feel I know you just a little, and there’s a crazy way I feel like you’ve become a friend! I know it’s a long shot, but it would be so great to get to meet you some day. Whether our paths ever cross or not, I wish you all the best!

    Your “friend,”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great to hear Jack made it, what a fantastic accomplishment! And Iā€™m glad to share my experience with everyone, and appreciate the kind words. Maybe someday we can all meet up and compare notes šŸ™ƒ


  3. Sharkbait!
    Happy here.
    Boy, can I identify with the picture and the circumstances :).
    I definitely agree that it was the right decision. It’s exciting to know that you’re on the last state and the final goal is at hand! I would have enjoyed this nero day too.
    Started my hiking today – we had great weather and took in a series of small hills.
    My interview at REI was today too – I think it went well. I was told they would re-contact me either way in late September.
    We’re going with Kevin & and the boys to the Twins game (vs. the Orioles) on Sunday.
    All is well on the home front and enjoying the summer. Keep on truckin’
    mom & Happy

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mike! If you hiked 100 miles a day you’d be home by now. Getting ever closer, congrats. Given any thoughts to your impending retirement? After finishing a big event/retirement there is always a letdown, ask your dad. Returning and adjusting to your “normal” life can be tricky. Just think about it. Happy Trails

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think about it every day, Chris. But Iā€™m excited to go back too, I have a lot of people and things back home to look forward to as well. šŸ™ƒ


      • Its not what you are looking forward to that i am speaking of. Its the reality of having an incredible life experience that changed your life and who you are at your core. Nothing will ever be the same, can’t be. Just think about all the experiences you have had on the AT, definitely life changing. Happy Trails

        Liked by 1 person

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