For all Hikers, Backpackers, and Campers—by Ray Anderson

Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail--Maine's Mahoosuc Notch

Hiking on the Appalachian Trail--Mashoosuc Notch--Maine
Mahoosuc Notch

So, you think you can hike? Seen it all? Amused when others remark about difficult trails? Then get yourself up to the famed Mahoosuc Notch in Maine, considered by many thru-hikers to be the most difficult mile on the Appalachian Trail. I’d have to agree. Other than the descent of Mt. Katahdin on a bad weather day, the Mahoosuc Notch mile was the longest and slowest mile I’ve ever hiked. And I don’t plan on tackling it again.

For starters, you have to scramble over truck-size boulders. Pray that you don’t have to do this on a rainy day, or when the rock is slick. You will also have to squirm through cracks, holes, and mini-tunnels. I had to remove my pack at one point and drag it behind me. Poles? Forget about it; I’d collapsed mine when I started out in this playland for giants and dwarfs.

Oh, sure, there are blazes to follow. The question is: How do you get to them? I remember scratching my head at one blaze on a boulder to my right and thinking, should I try to climb up and leap across that chasm, or snake around the lower precipice and take my chances on the ledge. No wonder I didn’t take any pictures (I googled “Mahoosuc Notch photos” to get these), I was concentrating on the moment. I remember cold air sneaking up to me from the ravine under the boulders, and if I looked down into the larger holes at my feet, I could see late-August ice.

Finally, the scrambling began to ease, and soon I was able to see rubble ahead that didn’t look so bad. When I was sure I was out of the dicey stuff, I looked at my watch—an hour and twenty minutes had transpired. I found out later that I was slower than most of the thru-hikers (one had the chutzpah to tell me he felt the infamous mile was over-rated!). But I didn’t care; I was glad to have it behind me.

What’s been your toughest hike?

(Photo of hiker with back turned is labeled Charles D., August 2001. Other photo has no label, but I believe the date is April 2010.)

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Comments on: "Mahoosuc Notch: For the Fit and Daring" (2)

  1. Certainly one of the toughest for me was the Barren-Chairback mountain range of the Maine A.T. – especially since I hiked through during a constant three-day downpour in mid-August!

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