Maine dished out the thrills within a few miles of the border. Goose Eye Mountain provided some spectacular overlooks enhanced by the crystal clear mountain air. We only hiked 9 miles to Full Goose Shelter because we expected delays getting through Mahoosic Notch. Tomorrow was my birthday and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend it than crawling among a pile of rocks!
Mark and I had heard all about the “Notch” and we were eager to experience the challenge. Just after the shelter, the Appalachian Trail dropped into a deep, rocky ravine. The woods were moist from a recent shower and the area had the feel of a rainforest. As we carefully stepped into the rocky cut, the air took on an unexpected chill. At the bottom of our descent into the Notch, we were struck by the massive jumble of huge boulders that was the Trail. I was snapping pictures faster than a caffeine jacked photographer at a porn shoot as we clambered our way along that impossible path through the rocks. The going was slow but we didn’t mind. The Trail through the Notch was only a mile long and we savored every foot of the unique terrain.
We had to take our packs off at times to get through some of the tighter spots of Mahoosic Notch. During a climb through, Mark spied a note on a tree. “Dead moose 200 yards south”. Sure enough, wedged in among the boulders was a large moose preserved by the natural refrigeration of the deep sunless Notch. It had apparently fallen from the cliffs above us. I understand a crew with a chainsaw came and removed it. Nasty. As if the obstacle course of the Notch wasn’t enough, the climb up Mahoosic Arm was a grind. The Trail was a sidewalk of exposed stone angled upward enough to require the hands at times and dangerously slick with rain. It took ALL day to hike the 5 miles to Speck Pond Shelter. And we were exhausted!
Mark and I stumbled into Speck Pond Shelter along with a ton of gomers coming in from the Grafton Notch direction. It was Labor Day weekend and it seemed the world was spending it at Speck Pond! There was an upside, lots of free food! Not only that but I dined on fresh trout from the pond caught by a fisherman who hated fish. We ate well but had to spend the night answering a barrage of obligatory Appalachian Trail questions. Mahoosic Notch and Speck Pond are truly beautiful spots and I understand why they are so popular. The Grafton Notch region is a favorite of Half Ass Expeditions and we would be back often for some outrageous winter mayhem!
Mark and I hoisted our packs the next morning for the walk into Grafton Notch. We stopped on an overlook for an early lunch of some gomer’s leftover bagels. Our meal attracted the attention of one tenacious Canadian Jay. This bold bird climbed inside the food bag and swiped half a bagel. Within minutes I had it eating out of my hand.
…continue the expedition, read: The Pain In Maine Is Mainly the Rain [link]