Full Goose Shelter [mile 1295.3; SOBO 276.9]
Miles to the border: 4.9
Well, that’s interesting. Tomorrow I hit two huge milestones within 0.2 mile. What are the odds of that? I’ll hit 1300 miles, then a few steps later I’ll cross out of Maine. Maybe forever!
Where to start? Honestly, I’m bone tired. If I were ever going to skip a day of journaling, today would be it. But since half the point of journaling is to help me figure out what these 5000 photos are, I don’t want to skip a day. So I get to torment you again! But take heart; no matter how tormented you’re feeling, it can’t come close to the sadistic misery I dealt with today.
I didn’t set the alarm, but I was on the trail earlyish: 6:45. I was nervous as hell already. The Arm, the Notch. These are legendarily awful.
Well, the day dawned brightly and not very chilly; halfway down the Arm I changed into shorts.
I actually got to the Arm at about 7:15… or at least, I assumed it was the Arm because the mountain started going downhill, steeply. And the verdict on the Arm?
Not bad at all.
Pesky, I’d call it. It was just another downhill in Maine: slabs of rocks, very steep, but manageable given sufficiently slow speed. I took some pictures and I’ll put them below; as a point of reference, in all cases keep in mind that I was coming down. A lot of times I’d get to the bottom and turn to look up and snap the photo. (If you’re using a phone, do you still ‘snap’?)
After about thirty minutes of Arm, I realized that it wasn’t that bad. I’d done worse descents regularly—the day before, in fact. Coming down Speck was hair-raising. But my brain was concentrating so fiercely, on high alert, that I realized I was exhausting myself before the actual entree: the Notch. So I put on my headphones and listened to music for the rest of the Arm. (Also, weather conditions today were perfect; I wouldn’t have wanted to climb down the Arm in the rain.)
It took about two hours.
Then it was time: the Mahoosuc Notch, the hardest mile on the Appalachian Trail.
Well… first of all, I dispute that. For me, any mile in the Gateway on Katahdin was two or three times harder, at minimum. In fact, that section of Katahdin is a lot like Mahoosuc, except vertical instead of horizontal, a mile in the air, and about twice as long. Your mileage may vary.
But that said, I found the Mahoosuc Notch to be a vile, nasty piece of sadism. It felt more like hazing than hiking. And since that right there is the best I have to say about it, I’ll shut up. I survived, and that’s what counts! If you want me to make your ears smoke, talk to me about it in person or in private. 🙂 Otherwise, I’m sure other journals are describing it in vast detail.
I will say that I found the one place where being a midget is an advantage: I didn’t have to take my pack off at all (although it required a finely tuned sense of spatial geometry and some sideshow-quality contortions). Going SOBO may have helped with that.
I was dead tired after Mahoosuc. There’s an unlisted stealth site just at the south end (no water), but I decided to drag myself up one more EKG spike of a mountain to the next shelter, and here I am. I had to pitch my tent on my first platform. I don’t like it! But I know it’s the shape of things to come. I’ll get better at it.
Tomorrow: 1300 miles and New Hampshire at just about the same instant! Also, the last four miles of Maine are supposed to be horrible. Of course. 😉 Maine says, ‘Don’t let the border hit you in the butt!’