Day 129: Baldpate Lean-to

Day 129. Another visiting group has come and gone, and I’m back on the trail alone. I’ve been so fortunate with the friends and family that were willing and able to join me on my hike, it truly has made a world of difference to enjoying this adventure fully. I may possibly have company for Katahdin, but otherwise I’m hiking solo the rest of the way, and although all my guests were fantastic, I’m also looking forward to enjoying the solitude and camaraderie of other thruhikers over these last 3 weeks.

Speaking of other hikers, man I’m seeing a lot of them lately. Mostly Southbounders, whose bubble I appear to now be in. I met at least a dozen thruhikers going south today! It’s funny to think they are just starting, while I’m on the home stretch with the end in sight. Almost makes me want to turn around and hike back to Georgia with them after I finish!

Getting back to the trail wasn’t too bad today. The rental car could just barely handle the paved logging road at 15 mph, but my friends got me within a mile of the Carlo Col Trailhead around 9am. It ended too quickly, but it was a great 3 days with Los Tres Gatitos. We said our goodbyes and then I headed back into the woods again.

The weather today is perfect. High 60s and sunny, with minimal wind. I didn’t necessarily need to hike as far as I did today, but it was so nice I enjoyed the additional time on the trail. It took me about an hour to hike the 3 miles back to the AT, and I marveled at how much lower the creek was from yesterday. There were st least 3 places where crossing caused severe wet boots 24 hours ago … but now, not a one. I bounded back up the mountain in an hour and was putting official miles under my feet by 10am.

The trail was decent today, with great views, but with a ton of steep climbs to get to them. Many areas had ladders or steps drilled in the rock to help you scale the boulder faces safely, and it was slow going at first. But eventually I put Mt. Carlo, Fulling Mill Mountain, and all 3 summits of Goose Eye Mountain behind me.

Then it was time for Mahoosic. The dreaded, scary, deadly, Mahoosic Notch and Arm.

Which, ended up being nothing dangerous at all and just a really nice hike! The Mahoosic Notch was a ton of fun, as I maneuvered through the giant boulder field with care and ease. This Notch is so unique in that it’s trapped in a low valley with limited access to the elements. The temperature is much cooler, with chilly air coming up from below the boulder field, and ice cold water pouring out to drink from in some areas. Seriously, it was the coldest water I’ve had on the whole trail, and it was spectacular. There were even patches of snow on the ground in areas that clearly never see the light of day! They say this is the toughest or most fun mile of the trail, and it was definitely the latter. It took me an hour to get through all those crevices and tunnels, but I loved it!

Still, it would have been much harder and dangerous if wet, so I agree with all the recommendations of waiting out bad weather and doing this section on a dry day … as well as the mountain (Mahoosic Arm) that follows.

The Arm is another steep super climb up to a summit, lined with sheer rock slabs the whole way. It is so steep and smooth that it would be near impossible if wet, so I again secretly my friends for their desire to avoid it yesterday. Instead I got to enjoy it comfortable today, and enjoy it I did. The views at the top were amazing and well worth the challenge.

After that, it was a slow and steady walk down to Grafton Notch, where I just missed a chance at trail magic. Passing SOBOs gave me the heads up of the awaiting food, but I must have arrived too late, as nothing was there. Oh well, this was a nice day, so I didn’t feel the need for any magic anyway. There was a huge wooden AT symbol on the road though, which was a neat surprise, so I took a photo (above). Also, I was offered a can of beer from a dayhiker earlier as well, so I had that to look forward to with my dinner later.

After a few more miles uphill, I arrived at the Baldpate Lean-to. In Maine, they call them Lean-tos instead of Shelters for some reason, though the setup is exactly the same. Only difference is the name, which is odd. Much Obliged is here at the Lean-to, as is another NOBO I’ve heard about named Manimal. That guy is a character, I’m glad I met him as he is a fun storyteller and goofy guy. There are others here as well, but none I know by name.

I made up some miles today from this past week’s double audible, but I’m still 8 miles behind schedule. Easy to make that up, so I’m not worried. My estimates have me summiting Katahdin exactly as planned on the 24th, but I’m thinking I will likely shave a day off my plan in the upcoming 100 mile wilderness. So it’s more likely I’ll arrive at Baxter State Park the evening of the 22rd. This is good, as it gives me a couple chances to hold out for a beautiful day for my final climb up the northern terminus. Fingers crossed for a good weather day!

Hello Neiman (Sharkbait)!

  • Start Mile: 1909.6
  • Start Time: 09:00
  • End Mile: 1926.0
  • End Time: 19:40
  • Miles Hiked: 16.4 (+3.0)
  • Miles to Go: 264.9
  • Lodging: Baldpate Lean-to

Day 128: Gorham Zero Day

Day 128. Although I technically hiked 3 miles today along the Carlo Col Trail to the Success Pond Rd, those don’t count towards my AT completion. Since my total miles (that count) are zero, I guess today was a Zero Day. But that’s just fine, as we typically have a day of goody town hijinks on our adventure trips anyway.

We woke up this morning to the anticipated rain and thunder around 5am. It didn’t last too long though, clearing up around 10am. We arranged a shuttle to get us at noon and then headed down the blue blaze trail. However, after a few hours of rain, it was completely different than what Max and I recalled from our reconnaissance walk the day before. This trail follows a creek downward, and the lower we got, the faster flowing and river-like it became. Where we never had to cross anything under water before, we now had multiple areas that forced us into ankle high water. It’s amazing how quickly the creeks rise here! No leisurely stepping over rocks this time, instead we had to ford the river in a half-dozen places (photo above).

The trailhead empties out on an old logging road, barely accessible by car and not heavily maintained. It had gravel paving, but not much. The shuttle was able to get through to us, but we had a slow commute back to the Rattle River Hostel, with lots of pothole swerving and off-road-like maneuvering. It was fun, and tomorrow I’ll need to take it again to get dropped back to where I left off.

We were back by 1pm, so we went to explore the town for the rest of our day. This provided us with a great lunch from a BBQ food truck, a round of made-up frisbee golf, a round of real miniature golf, and dinner at an amazing restaurant. Saalt is its name, and it is incredible. The head chef (Liz) trained under Julia Child, and has a menu that is truly Michelin restaurant worthy. I will never be back here again, but that 40-ingredient lasagna is almost worth returning. Yum!

After dinner we went back to the hostel and played a rousing game of Settlers of Catan, hung out with the other hikers, organized gear for our early morning departure tomorrow, and then crashed. These guys are flying home tomorrow, so they won’t be able to hike the Mahoosic Notch and Arm like planned … but I don’t think that bothers them too much. We had a great time hiking what we did together, and I’m once again reenergized to keep on and reach the end. Almost there!

Hello Neiman (Sharkbait)!

  • Start Mile: 1909.6
  • Start Time: 10:00
  • End Mile: 1909.6
  • End Time: 12:00
  • Miles Hiked: 0.0 (+3.0)
  • Miles to Go: 281.3
  • Lodging: Rattle River Hostel