The (In)Famous Mahoosuc Notch

DSCF4325The guidebook describes Mahoosuc Notch as both the most difficult and the most fun mile of the Appalachian Trail.  I think I would have to agree with Awol’s assessment.

Mahoosuc Notch is a jumble of enormous boulders that hikers have to climb atop, crawl under, and creep around.  The white-blazed route feels like a path through a maze, and hikers are advised to allow themselves plenty of time to pass through the Notch.

After hiking completely alone and seeing very few people for days, I spent the day I was due to hike the Notch leapfrogging Duke, a hiker I hadn’t seen for hundreds of miles.  (Coincidentally, I mentioned Duke in a post I wrote just a few days ago.)  When I got to the start of the Notch, I found him waiting there for me.


And so it begins…

We were both glad to have company while moving through the Notch.  Duke gave me several handholds, and we helped each other move our packs through several tough spots.

By the time northbounders reach Mahoosuc Notch, they’re quite familiar with boulder fields.  However, the ones south of Maine are sun-baked and barren.  Mahoosuc Notch is another beast entirely; in the valley, there are trees and moss everywhere.  As Duke and I moved through the Notch, we relied on roots far more than I would have expected:  At one point, we even traversed a root bridge across a gap in the boulders.

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This photo doesn’t do the root bridge justice!

Two-and-one-half hours after we’d begun, Duke and (my broken foot and) I emerged from the Notch.  We retired happily to a lovely campsite in a birch forest.

I have a photo of my bare legs after I’d climbed through Mahoosuc Notch, but no one wants to see that.

I apologize for tonight’s abbreviated post.  I’m currently working on a tree planting crew with a conservation nursery in Vermont.  I love the work passionately, but it’s exhausting!



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