return to Maine: days 111-114

Day 111: Zeta Pass to Route 2, 12.7 miles
Day 112: Gorham, 0 miles
Day 113: Route 2 to Carlo Col Shelter, 16.3 miles
Day 114: Carlo Col Shelter to Baldpate Lean-to, 16.4 miles 
Total AT miles hiked: 1924.9
AT miles left: 264.9

Our hike down from Zeta Pass to Route 2 was an easy one. We were anxious to hike the miles into town, as rain was predicted around noon. It sprinkled on us as we made our way into the valley, but the sun was still shining and the rain was brief. It took a few minutes, but we hitched into town, and asked to be dropped off at McDonald’s because we were hungry and I’ve grown fond of their guacamole signature chicken sandwich (they even serve it with a real slice of lime!).

We checked into our hotel for two nights, and took a zero the following day. We’re well familiar with Gorham, we drive through here frequently when we go hiking in the White Mountains. It was strange to spend time in a town that we usually just stop in briefly for a post-hike meal at Mr. Pizza, but enjoyable none the less. We relaxed and resupplied, and the next morning our friend Beau picked us up on his way to work and dropped us off at the trailhead. The day was overcast, but fortunately it never rained. We spent the day climbing up and down through the beginning of the Mahoosuc Range, one of the gnarliest sections on the Appalachian Trail. The trail either is granite rock or a mess of roots, and verges on some light rock climbing. 

Late in the afternoon, we reached the Maine border. While I feel so fortunate to be physically and mentally able to hike this trail with Garrett, lately I have not been feeling very grateful about the entire experience. Maybe it’s because it has rained nearly 40% of the days we’ve been out here, or the fact that I’ve hiked most of the trail north of Mt. Greylock to this point, or because I’m tired of fending off black flies; but regardless, it hasn’t been bringing me much joy. Making it to the Maine border didn’t completely turn my attitude around, but it certainly helped motivate me for the remaining 281.4 miles. I know I will miss the trail when we’re gone. The saying on the AT is, “No rain, no pain, no Maine.” Well we’ve reached Maine, so maybe the rain and pain could stop for the next couple of weeks? If only!

My wish came partially true the next day as we hiked deeper into the Mahoosucs. The views going over Full Goose and Goose Eye were amazing, and then we dropped into the infamous Mahoosuc Notch; known for being “the most difficult and fun mile on the Appalachian Trail.” I’ve been looking forward to hiking the notch for years, and its massive cluster of boulders did not dissapoint. 

We snaked our way over and under boulders, remarking on the ice still trapped in the deep corners of the notch. We stopped for lunch, and before we knew it the mile was over. The trail went straight up the steep granite slope of the Mahoosuc Arm; a tricky piece of trail in its own right, and dropped down again to Speck Pond. Our friend James was out there putting the shingles on the new shelter. We’d originally planed on staying, but we made better time than we thought and pushed on the 6.7 miles to Baldpate Lean-to. While there were a few other hikers at the lean-to, we were the only ones who chose to stay in the shelter, making it an appropriately peaceful evening after a good day of hiking. My spirit is starting to turn around, and I’m looking forward to the rest of Maine!