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A few days in Southern ME and the Prezzies

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    • A few days in Southern ME and the Prezzies

      Plans for a 100-mile AT section hike sort of fell apart. We're getting old. We means SloGo'En and me. Here's how it went down...

      Day 1, last Thursday: We parked my car at Rattle River trailhead on Rte. 2, and continued in Slo's vehicle to the southern trailhead for the Grafton Loop. That trailhead is about 10 miles south of the AT Grafton Notch trailhead. Perfect weather. We walked north on the western half of the Grafton Loop. Beautiful views from Sunday River WhiteCap Mtn. summit, which by the way has nothing to do with the same-named peak at the Sunday River ski area, which is several miles to the west. We camped at a nice site about three miles from the summit of Old Speck.

      Day 2 took us up to Old Speck summit and fire tower. The AT doesn't go to the summit, and misses it by quite a bit. A pity. We spent a lot of time there and took turns climbing the steel ladder up the fire tower. Eventually we continued on, found the AT, and walked south -- down several hundred gnarly vertical feet to Speck Pond, another break. Then several hundred gnarly vertical feet to the top of South Arm, then down 1500 insanely gnarly feet to a very nice campsite. It was a bit after 2 PM. We decided to stay put. We could easily have made it through Mahoosuc Notch, but not necessarily to the next shelter, which would have involved a huge climb afterwards. Several thru-hikers at the campsite. A good time.

      Day 3 took us through Mahoosuc Notch, up the other side, and over to Carlo Col cabin. Excellent weather holding out. Phenomenal views and extremely tough hiking terrain. Really breathtaking scenery. Really scary, steep descents. Several ladders and some rebar. No country for old men.

      Day 4 (Sunday AM) -- It rained overnight at the shelter, we awoke to cold, gray skies and lots of wind. Steve did not want to continue. We took a blue blaze down to a logging road, then walked the logging road for a few miles before a car stopped for us. A young guy finishing up his own hike. He took us not just to Berlin (at least another 8-10 miles up that road) but through Gorham and out to the the Rattle River trailhead to where my car was parked. The rest of the day was spent retrieving Steve's car from the Grafton Loop trailhead, and the usual zero-day or nero-day hiker stuff -- cheeseburgers, shower, laundry, resupply.

      Day 5: (Monday AM) Paid $25 apiece for shuttle to the top of Mt. Washington. We're packed for at least 2 nights. Plan is to walk north on the Presidential range to Madison, and literally back to Steve's place in Randolph NH. Weather could not have been more perfect. 100+ mile visibility from the summit f Mt. Washington at 10:30 AM. You could see all the way to the ocean. We hiked north over Jefferson and about halfway up Mt. Adams, then began our ascent for The Perch, where we spent the night on tent platforms. Temp dropped to 40F overnight. Didn't sleep too well.

      Day 6: (Tues.) Gray sky today. Neither of us is much motivated to continue to Madison. The ridge looks gray and gloomy in this weather. But this is Steve's home turf, these trails are his back yard. Steve led me to Gray Knob cabin, very nice place, though unlike any AMC structure. (Nicer!) From there we took a three hour loop, back up above treeline to the summit of "Abigail" Adams, down to RMC Crag Camp (more like a fancy ski chalet) and then back to Gray Knob. From Gray Knob, reunited with our packs, we scooted down Lowe's Path. The trailhead for Lowe's Path is a quarter mile from Steve's place. A final celebratory dinner in Gorham, then Steve drove me out to my car on Rte. 16, (Mt. Washington Auto Road) and from there, a 3.5 hour drive home.
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      The post was edited 1 time, last by rafe ().

    • Photos in above post (from top left)

      1. Speck Mtn. summit and fire tower
      2. Speck Pond
      3. View of Speck Mtn. from top of South Arm
      4. a view inside Mahoosuc Notch
      5. near summit of Goose Eye Mtn.
      6. Sunset from near The Perch
      7. near summit of Abigail Adams
      8. @ end of hike, Lowe's Store
      9. Steve @ White Cap summit (Grafton Loop West)
      10. view from Mt. Washington summit, Monday AM (white streak across center is Atlantic ocean.)
      11. near summit of Mt. Jefferson
      12. ravines on western side of Presidential Range
      13. on descent to The Perch
    • Great trip report, thanks!
      Kathy and I were up in southern Maine ourselves this past summer.
      The views were great but I can relate when you use phrases like "gnarly vertical" or "insanely gnarly".
      We too went to the fire tower and glad we did, the 360 degree views were great even under a high overcast sky.

      The post was edited 1 time, last by LIhikers ().