On another beautiful, sunny, mild Maine day I found myself hiking happy again. With a less difficult trail to traverse today, and a slack pack for the first time in over two weeks, Molar Man, Susquehanna Slim, and I covered the 10.3 miles from Grafton Notch to East B Hill Rd. in right at seven hours. That even included a thirty minute break for lunch at the Frye Notch Lean-to. Throughout the day I enjoyed the company, I enjoyed the views, but more importantly I just enjoyed hiking. All in all, it was a good day to be on the trail.
From the outset at Grafton Notch my hiking buddies and I were faced with the only challenging part of the day, the climb to the west peak of Baldpate at 3662 feet. Most of the ascent consisted of “regular” trail even though an occasional sheer rock face appeared. I regained some of my hiking composure and walked up most rather than hugging the tree-line. Since the rocks were relatively dry and not too slanted, this method of hiking proved somewhat easier. Even over a few rocks that were still slightly wet, I maintained this approach, following closely behind Molar Man and Slim.
After reaching the west peak of Baldpate we crossed a short notch before climbing up the east peak. The east peak posed more of a challenge, but not one I wasn’t up to today. I put my head down and steadily walked up the creviced rock face to the summit at 3810 feet. Views from the top extended for several peaks to the west including the presidential range in the Whites. Mt. Washington was even visible with only its summit in the clouds. I don’t know how many miles could be seen, but it had to be close to one hundred with blue skies in all directions. I stared into the distance with awe. Again, the views were beyond spectacular.
From the east peak of Baldpate we descended about 1500 feet to the Frye Notch Lean-to, where we stopped for lunch. In Maine the word Lean-to is used in place of shelter. They are still the same three sided wooden structures that usually sleep between 6 and 12. After the break we ascended briefly a “no-name” mountain. I like these mountains without identities. They mostly are nondescript and pose little difficulty. Views are nice; however, sometimes it’s also good to have a break from the challenging ascents. All the mountains that may be dangerous have names. After the short climb we descended another agreeable section of trail to Dunn Notch and Falls. Several water crossings occurred, but all had well-placed rocks for hopping across. I managed to stay vertical and dry throughout the hike.
We took our last break at the falls. As usual I leaned my hiking poles against a tree. Apparently a gust of wind knocked one down toward the water. Fortunately it hung up on the way down and Slim was able to retrieve it. While there we met Blondie, a southbound thru hiker doing a northbound slack pack today. He passed us on the walk to East B Hill Rd. and rode back to the Cabin with the rest of us. The only northbound thru hiker I saw all day was Spacey.
So I’m suddenly just as encouraged about hiking today as I was discouraged after yesterday’s more treacherous section. With 256.9 miles still remaining I certainly needed a morale boost. I think Baldpate gave it to me. It’s only a little before 5:00. I’ve had a good hike, showered, and am about to finish this journal entry. Honey and Bear will serve supper in about an hour. A cool breeze filters through the trees. All is well because I’m hiking happy again, headed north on the Appalachian Trail.