One of the tightest squeezes at Mahoosuc Notch on the Appalachian Trail
Yes, this is the Appalachian Trail. One of the tightest squeezes at Mahoosuc Notch on the Appalachian Trail

AT Day 114 – Mahoosuc Notch

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7th August 

16.4 miles

Carlo Col Shelter (1908.5) to Bald Pate Lean-To (1924.9)

Mahoosuc Notch on the Appalachian Trail which is sometimes called the Mahoosuc Traverse was a place I was looking forward to hiking. The last couple of miles of hiking was in the pouring rain. My body was exhausted from the effort. Despite only covering just over 16 miles I would have to rate today as the most physically demanding day of the hike so far. Mahoosuc Notch trail Maine and the subsequent climb up Mahoosuc Arm was some of the hardest on trail hiking I’ve done.

I was the first hiker on trail in the morning on route to the Mahoosuc Traverse. Leaving the 10 or so other hikers to their morning slumber and straight away I was hiking through the wind and clouds. The high alpine mountains of Maine were not going to let me past easily.

Misty morning approaching Mahoosuc Traverse
Misty morning on route to the Mahoosuc Traverse
Appalachian Trail misty morning trail
Appalachian Trail misty morning trail

Is Mahoosuc Notch hard?

Mahoosuc Notch is commonly referred to as the toughest mile of hiking on the whole Appalachian Trail. The trail, if that’s the correct word for it, follows a boulder field between two mountains. A combination of rock scrambling and squeezing through boulders is required to complete the Mahoosuc Notch mile. It’s tough going. Yes Mahoosuc Notch is hard.

No Rain No Pain No Maine

No Rain, No Paine, No Maine is a common term used by hikers on the Appalachian Trail. It embodies the spirit that is needed to be able to thru hike the Appalachian trail. The struggle, the suffering and the rewards for sticking at it. Mahoosuc Notch trail Maine sums up that feeling of struggle and reward.

I did take time for photos and videos but still a tough section. The photos below are the Appalachian Trail, not some side trail or me exploring nearby caves or rock climbs.

The start of Mahoosuc Notch trail
The start of Mahoosuc Notch trail Maine
Crawling through the small tunnels in Mahoosuc Notch Trail Maine
Crawling through the small tunnels in Mahoosuc Notch trail Maine
Tough scramble and a tight squeeze in Mahoosuc Notch
Tough scramble and a tight squeeze in Mahoosuc Notch
Rock scramble up Mahoosuc Notch
Rock scramble up Mahoosuc Notch
Yet another small tunnel to crawl through at Mahoosuc Notch Trail Maine
Yet another small tunnel to crawl through at Mahoosuc Notch Trail Maine
One of the tightest squeezes at Mahoosuc Notch Traverse on the Appalachian Trail
Yes, this is the Appalachian Trail. One of the tightest squeezes at Mahoosuc Notch Traverse on the Appalachian Trail
A very tight squeeze at Mahoosuc Notch, it was difficult with a backpack
A very tight squeeze at Mahoosuc Notch, it was difficult with a backpack
Mahoosuc Notch on the Appalachian Trail
Mahoosuc Notch on the Appalachian Trail
snow in Mahoosuc Notch
snow in Mahoosuc Notch
Crawling through a difficult section of Mahoosuc Notch
Crawling through a difficult section of Mahoosuc Notch
Climbing out of Mahoosuc Notch
Climbing out
The end of Mahoosuc Notch the hardest mile on the Appalachian Trail
The end of the hardest mile on the Appalachian Trail

Climbing up Mahoosuc Arm

When the fun and games of Mahoosuc Notch was finished there was no rest. Now came Mahoosuc Arm, probably the steepest climb on the whole Appalachian Trail, 1500 feet of climbing over 1 mile, a similar grade to a set of stairs. The only difference is, there’s no stairs just steep slippery rocks and tree roots.

Climbing out of Mahoosuc Notch up Mahoosuc Arm
Climbing up Mahoosuc Arm
Mushrooms on Mahoosuc Arm
Mushrooms on Mahoosuc Arm

In comparison, the rest of the afternoon was a walk in the woods but that’s not exactly true. While climbing up Old Spek Mountain I stopped on numerous occasions to take in the view. Mountains as far as I could see. I was alone for the whole day of hiking and many moments on this climb I just stopped to sit and enjoy the view. These views and the struggle of Mahoosuc Notch and Mahoosuc Arm was why I was here. I had a moment which is hard to describe but let’s say I was grateful for the opportunity to be able to hike a trail like this, not everybody is so fortunate.

Light rain fell in the late afternoon with ominous dark clouds signalling worse to come. I was several miles from the nearest campsite. The rain hit heavier the closer I got to camp until it was pouring down as I pitched the tent. No photos nor words could come close to summing up my experience today. May I have many more experiences like this in the future. Best day hiking in the Appalachian Trail so far.

Endless Mountains at Mohoosuc Arm
Cold lake
The endless mountains at Mahoosuc Arm

Watch the YouTube Video of Mahoosuc Notch

 


This journal is part is part of my thru hike of the whole Appalachian Trail feel free to keep reading and learning about the trail.

Next : Day 115 – Rain and Shine

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  1. Well, glad you liked the Notch. Back in the day, I did it with one of those external frame “skyscraper” packs. Had to take it off and drag it behind me the whole mile. Got to the other end and someone told me there’s a bypass. Now you tell me. But hey, the best is yet to come. The last 100 miles flatten out and pass some beautiful lakes. You’ll have to cowboy it on the beach. You’re in the home stretch. Go 4 it.

  2. Anyone bigger than you as in wider may not fit through some of those places. What an adventure …………..Glad you are fit for the challenge .

    1. The places weren’t too tight, I hiked them with my pack on. I guess some hikers need to remove their pack to get through.

  3. You are definitely up for a challenge!! Have to ask… as I was looking at your photos clambering over all manner of rocks and through notches… were you “double hiking” those parts to get the shots… going back to retrieve a camera and doing it all over again!!?? If so… you are the most dedicated of hikers to record all the nuances of this trail!! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Yep, I would set the camera and record video of the hike. All those photos are photo grabs from GoPro video.

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