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.
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.
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.
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.
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
All the best information on the Appalachian Trail:
Complete Guide to the Appalachian Trail
Appalachian Trail Gear List
Appalachian Trail Gear Review
12 thoughts on “AT Day 114 – Mahoosuc Notch”
Just did it this past weekend, such an accurate descriptions with awesome pictures. The Notch was super-fun and the arm was soul-crushing. Damp, wet rocks, mud added another level of difficulty, but totally worth it :)
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.
There a bypass? I never knew. I wouldn’t have taken it anyway.
Trail looking damn tough and very rewarding. Awesome… Safe steps always.
The rewards are definitely worth it, like most things in life I guess.
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 .
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.
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!
Yep, I would set the camera and record video of the hike. All those photos are photo grabs from GoPro video.
I’m exhausted with you and I’m just reading and enjoying the pics. Good to see PackmanPete’s comment that you are in the home stretch.
Yes, not far to go now. I need a nice long rest afterwards