Day 116: Carlo Col to Baldpate

Trip Start Mar 15, 2010
Trip End Jul 23, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Maine
Thursday, July 8, 2010

Today was a very tough day on the trail, but very glad to have it over with and even had some fun along the way.  Woke up early but I was a bit sluggish getting going. I also gave myself double vision by bending over and concentrating so hard trying to fill my water bottles from a little trickle stream. Fortunately that went away quickly once we hit the trail.

I'm still hiking with Pine Monkey and we managed the first 4.5 of the day in slow fashion.
The climbs were tough up Full Goose Mtn and my vision issues made navigating up the mtn difficult.  Arrived at Full Goose Shelter for morning snack and met Campchair there (another thruhiker) I'd heard about him from others along the way. Our reputations and log entries certainly preceed us out here!

The next 5 mi stretch is perhaps the most difficult on the entire trail. First a 1500 ft descent down into Mahoosuc Notch, it is steep and very taxing on the knees. Then you have to traverse the notch, many consider this the hardest mile on the AT.  The first thing you notice is the temperature change. It was another scorcher today 80s and humid so down in the notch when you feel 40 degree air boy is that lovely. The notch is so steep that the crevasses and stuff down there hold ice and snow the whole year round.  I hadn't walked on ice since Roan Mtn, TN! (though did see some snow on the side of Mt Washington.)

The passage requires you to boulder hop, climb through muddy caves, climb around big rocks, scramble through tree roots, and take off the packs to squeeze through really small openings. It is kind of like the Mammoth Cave spelunking tour we did in January (except add a 30 lb pack)

All in all it took 2 hrs to get through this one mile, which is VERY slow for AT hiking. Of course we had a lot of fun along the way, taking pictures, finding interesting other routes, looking for the supposed moose skeletons, and avoiding falling into crevasses.

The next step was then climbing 1500 ft back up the other side of the notch. A very steep rock climb that really sapped my strength. I had been having so much fun in Mahoosuc Notch that I didn't realize how much energy it had required.  Halfway up I was trying to scramble up a rock face using a tree for support but I slipped on a root (by far the most slippery thing you can encounter on the trail besides ice) and started to fall. I ended up hugging this tree hanging over the rock face. It really saved me from a nasty fall (I would have fallen and slid probably 20-30 feet down this wet rock face ouch)

I'm starting to accumulate some nice cuts and scrapes Now that we are so up close and personal with the rocks. Feeling pretty banged up, especially the knees.  Spend an hour at Spec Pond Shelter to eat late lunch before moving on to do a last down and up (2500 down,1500 back up) very glad to now be out of the Mahoosuc Range and out of AMC territory. The Maine Appalachian Trail Club will guide us the rest of the way home.

We crossed 1900 miles this morning which is another great milestone. Each one brings me closer to the prize. Thanks for all the great messages and concern from all of you. Just like I told my mom on the phone, going fast or slow doesn't change the danger of the trail through here. In fact going slow just makes me more fatigued and when you are climbing up rocks and things, generating and maintaining momentum is actually much safer?

Also question about whether I'd seen any of my former hiking buddies in the registers? A: no. The only guy that's ahead of me is Alpine and he doesn't sign. Everyone else I've met is somewhere behind. I hope they are all doing well but hard to really know. The cold hard fact is
still that only 15 or so percent finish each year.

Hope you are all well. We are sharing the shelter with a big family out for the night, kids, dogs, campfire, etc. They even set up a tent in the shelter which is definitely an AT no no. Ah well.
Sleepy sleepy and then wake up and do it all over again.
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