Mahoosuc Notch (August 14)

For once I feel completely revived and excited today, motivated by a goal to catch up with friends ahead.  As the trip begins to slowly wind down, I’ve made a list of people I want to see one more time.  To think I should be finished in less than a month!

I only hike 13 miles today, but that includes Mahoosuc Notch.  It is very tough to climb in there with my pack.  For most of this trip, I feel perfectly justified carrying a heavier pack (around 32 lbs) but I feel discouraged by the weight today.  The notch is basically a mile of twisting, crawling, scrambling, climbing in a narrow valley full of jumbled-up giant boulders.  Our guidebook calls the Mahoosuc Notch “most difficult or fun mile of the AT”.  At times I take off my pack to scout ahead and find the next white blaze.  These are the times when I think to myself, “I can see how this would be fun, if I didn’t have to carry this pack along with me!”  I’m not alone in feeling tired.  Halfway through the notch, I catch up with an older hiker who sees me and growls, “I’m about ready for the fun to be over!”  I laugh and commiserate.

Even though I find Mahoosuc Notch really tough, I still appreciate its place on the Appalachian Trail.  The notch is so distinct and different, complete with icy caves year round under the lowest rocks.  Cold air wafts up from the ground as I climb through.  For days before I reach the notch, I meet some hikers who sing out its praises- they loved climbing through this section.  It is definitely unique!

I feel relieved to make it out of the notch and start hiking on actual trail again.  The rocks and roots on the path didn’t seem as tiresome as usual- it just feels nice to be able to walk freely again instead of strategizing and climbing every step!

Glad to have made it through this notable piece of trail today.

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