The A.T. State by State – Maine

HikeItForward-Final-MediumOn a NOBO thru-hike, the last state to visit is Maine. The ultimate landmark during the adventure in the Pine Tree State is the wooden sign on top of the beautiful Mount Katahdin. In order to arrive at this iconic signpost a thru-hiker must traverse 281 very difficult miles. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy considers the trail in Maine to be the most difficult of all fourteen states. Beginner hikers are discouraged from attempting this part of the A.T. Even experienced hikers often average one mile per hour in some parts of this rugged terrain. Some sections in Maine require that the thru-hiker grab onto tree roots and limbs in order to climb up or descend through the trail’s obstacle course. Parts of the path are especially slippery and hazardous in wet weather making it necessary to slide down on the seat of one’s pants or crawl on one’s hands and knees. I am very nervous about Maine and yet I look forward to it at the same time.

The Appalachian Trail through Maine encounters numerous lakes, streams, and bogs. Such abundant water sources attract the magnificent moose and the mournful, crazy calls of the common loon (want to hear the loons? – The water also makes for muddy trail-ways and numerous mountain streams that must be forded. Some of these fords can be tricky and potentially life-threatening when water is high so common sense and extreme care are the orders of the day.

The 281 miles in Maine can be roughly divided into three segments: let’s consider the first on this blog and leave the other two for additional postings.

Welcome to Maine SignThe southern section (technically the western section) is an area of extremely steep, 4,000-foot mountains, arguably the toughest part of the entire A.T. It includes the notorious mile-long boulder challenge of Mahoosuc Notch – up, down, over, under and around the rocks. There are several videos trying to capture the experience – this one is really short but I like it because it paints a good picture of hiking the notch with a full pack on your back –

This southern section runs (although “crawls” might be a better verb to use) for 109 miles from the New Hampshire state line (NOBO mile 1904) to Bigelow Preserve (mile 2013). During this stretch of the trail there are 13 shelters (an average of a shelter every 8.4 miles) so there is plenty of safe places to spend the night but only four towns “close” to the path: Andover (9 miles east), Oquossoc (11 miles west), Rangeley (9 miles west), and Stratton (5 miles west). This section of the trail will take some wise strategy in planning a food resupply – my plan will hopefully fall in place once I figure out how many miles I can hike a day in this terrain. Hitch-hiking into town may be very appealing at the 1,965 mile marker.

Welcome Photo:

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Backpack, Mahoosuc Notch, Maine, Mount Katahdin, New Hampshire, Thru-Hike, Trail | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “The A.T. State by State – Maine

  1. Sounds like you have the right idea as far as what you’ll find when you get up here; mountains, mud and resupply challenges. Luckily you’ll be in probably the best shape of your life by the time you get this far so going up and down those mountains will be more a mental challenge than physical.

    The section from the NH border to the Baldpates just past Rt 26 is almost all either steeply up or down but past that it becomes a bit more rolling. Plan on a very short day for the Mahoosuc Notch itself due to the challenges there and aim for the Speck Pond shelter just beyond as your reward. Some very steep ups and downs the next few miles after that so if the feet are tired call it a day there.

    You can usually hitch pretty easily on any of the state highways the trail crosses in this area. Folks generally like to help out the hikers. After this is when the supply challenges really kick in, but I’m sure you are already working out the logistics of the 100 mile heh. I’m starting to look forward to your adventure almost as much as you are. Almost…

    • Lone Stranger –
      I am so thankful for your comments. They provide a real-life perspective vs words of research. Even looking at a map indicating elevation changes, I can not appreciate the ease or difficulty of the terrain. Thanks for the suggestion of Speck Pond. Looking at my initial plan for the trip, I had anticipated only a ten mile day – camping at Carlo Col Shelter just over the NH/ME border and ending the day at Speck Pond. There looks to be a $8.00 overnight fee at Speck Pond, so I was considering pushing on to Baldpate Lean-to or a tent site along the way. I may have to decide between $8 and exhausted feet.

  2. I guess you’ll see how you feel that day 😉 After the pond you head steeply up towards Old Speck then steeply down to the parking lot on Rt 26. From there it is steeply back up to the Baldpate shelter, so not much for tenting between the two. The Baldpate shelter doesn’t have much of a view being below the West peak, but if you stay there get an early start the next day to enjoy East Baldpate which is above the treeline and if clear provides views of the Presidents and way up towards Katahdin on a good day.

    The reason I know this stretch so well is that it is part of the Grafton Loop. I’m not much for the crowds on the AT, but will tolerate them for a few miles because the rest of the loop is usually all mine. I’d say it is worth a side trip but you probably don’t want to add 30 miles of mountains to your adventure heh

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