Third Time’s a Charm Through Mahoosuc Notch

I cannot help but laugh as I get a bit stuck coming through a tight spot in Mahoosuc Notch. It was fun, but also the most difficult hiking I’ve ever done.  We started at Carlo Col Shelter that morning, which was already six miles of hiking before we even got to the Notch.  As a result, I was already fairly tired before we even got there.  But, even though it was the most physically challenging section I have ever hiked, it was also the most fun.  We climbed up and over and down and under huge boulders. The photo below is coming out of a pretty tight spot, but after resting for just a moment, I was able to pull myself out of the hole. We camped at the east end of the Notch and saved Mahoosuc Arm for the next day. I was just spent by the time we got done. The mountains in Maine may not be the biggest we’ve climbed, but they are certainly some of the most challenging.

This was the first time I’ve hiked this section and I had envisioned Mahoosuc Arm to be just like the Notch, only vertical. It wasn’t. There were some sections that weren’t all that tough at all and I was thankful.  Now don’t get me wrong, there were some substantial boulders that we had to get up and over, but it wasn’t one solid mile of bouldering. It was difficult to scale and to get out of. But again, it was challenging and I was able to rise to that challenge and I got it done.

Old Speck Mountain was challenging as well, but not nearly as much. It was a beautiful day and Sniffles (a fellow hiker) kept saying, “It’s just 3.6 miles.” And while hearing that made me want to punch her in the face—that was what I needed to keep hearing in order to have the drive to push up and over. The climb up was hot in the sun and it had some boulder scrambles too. But then we got to the top and the hike down was wonderfully easy in comparison to some of the hiking we had done thus far. We passed a beautiful waterfall and had a relatively flat section toward the end.

We had to hitch into town at Grafton Notch because we literally ran out of food. We have never done this before and we were actually surprised it happened.  We had been hiking such long days and as a result, ate more snacks. Having the sleeve bariatric surgery has me eating protein every two hours anyway, so hiking for ten to 12 hours means more food. We also ate dinner later as a result. But we were able to get into Bethel, ME, and get food and have a very comfortable nights sleep at the Bethel Village Motel. It was wonderful and the owner was amazing.  I want to come back with my husband sometime and hang out in town a few days.  It was a much needed 12-hour break.

We have 246.8 miles left to Katahdin. I know the miles ahead will have their own challenges, but I am so thankful I was able to finally make it through the Notch.  I was forced around it in 2012 due to severe storms for several days and having a deadline. Then in 2015, I separated my ribs from my sternum and had to hike out the Notch trail and go to the hospital. The third time was definitely a charm.  It was challenging and pushed me to my physical and mental limits for sure, but so very worth hiking.

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Comments 1

  • Ruth morley : Aug 9th

    With your past encounters with the Notch, you certainly have earned this victory. Congratulations! As another grandmother of two sweet girls, I always enjoy reading your posts.


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