It’s time for THE NOTCH.
Gormet and I were packed and ready to hike at 6:30. We wanted to have enough time to get through the mile-long notch (will two hours be enough?) and hike enough miles to make it into Gorham at a decent time tomorrow. We both have reservations to stay in town and I want to milk every last minute of my solo hotel room that I can.
I do remember 2002 She-ra going through the notch, it was fun and novel, especially with the silly antics that our little tramily enjoyed at the end. It’s time consuming to power climb up, lower yourself down, crawl on hands and knees, schmere what is left of your shoe rubber on the rock, and try that climbing hold you saw someone use once. Both of us think our years of yoga practice is coming in handy to make some of these moves work. At one point we came upon a nobo hiker that said, “Am I almost out?” Gormet and I looked at each other and said, “We thought we were almost out!” We all had a long way to go.
Onward. There were a couple of false finishes before we left the rock gauntlet, and yep, there was still snow and ice in some of the crevasses.
Whew, now we can just hike, right? Ummmm, not so fast. We had to go straight up something next. The challenges are always and everywhere out here.
I have to admit my thoughts got dark. Why does the AT hate hikers so much? And whose idea was it anyway to route the trail through the arm and notch? Why do people love this trail? Why am I doing this again?
My mood improved when I got to the next shelter and stopped for a snack break. Often snacks are the answer out here, but my body is not liking the bags of salt and sugar I packed out of the last town. The small little store in Andover didn’t have much in the way of nutritious packable food, and my body was telling me the empty calories of pop tarts and honey mustard pretzels wasn’t cutting it in this terrain. I need real food. I decided to pack out fruit and veggies in the next stop. Gorham has a Walmart and will have lots of food options to choose from.
The rest of the day was lovely and steep. The trail led me up to small peaks with views and log bog walking (note: don’t step off the log bridges…word is someone once fell in mud up to their armpits out here! These bogs are no joke!)
Then the moment I’ve been waiting for: New Hampshire! I crossed the line from the second hardest state to hike on the Appalachian Trail to the first hardest state! Oh joy 😵. No, really, I was excited at my progress. I stopped and ate more empty salty calories before continuing on.
Now the mission became hike as far as I could before crashing. I could not believe the steep bouldering that continued…you can’t call these trails…but they can, and do.
I listened to music all afternoon to give me some external motivation and decided I needed to download some Radiohead and classic rock for the next section. These music streaming services let you download playlists and most albums for a monthly fee. Totally worth it. I left Spotify in solidarity with Neil Young earlier this year (Spotify has some issues including paying artists almost nothing to stream their music) and have been using QoBuz which is pretty good.
I arrived at one of my potential destinations for the night, but it was only 5pm and even though my knees and thighs told me I was done for the day, my desire to be closer to town and have a shorter day tomorrow made me continue on. The elevation profile to the next lake helped…kind of flatish. If I could hike to Dream Lake and camp there for the night, I’d only have 10 miles to hike to Gorham tomorrow. Even that isn’t totally comforting. How long will it take me to hike 10 miles? I have no idea. One mile has taken me anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours to hike so far; it’s nearly impossible to tell what kind of miles the 10 will be, but I do know 10 miles will be quicker than 13, so I push on.
And I make it. I have the place to myself and claim the one tiny campsite with a view of the lily-pad laden lake and a peak off in the distance. It was a 12 hour day, and I feel it in every muscle in my body.
Ok Dream Lake, I hope your name is legit.