Mahoosuc Notch -The Hardest Mile on the Appalachian Trail

Posted on in Adventure + Travel, Health + Lifestyle, Nature + Outdoors, Sports + Training by Jaclyn Paaso

It's in the mountains of Western Maine that I first discovered how much I really loved the outdoors and in particular mountains. Mahoosuc Notch is part of the 2,160 mile Appalachian trail or the AT, that runs from Georgia to Maine. It also just happens to be ten minutes down the road from my hometown of Hanover, ME. What's so significant about this part of the AT is that it is considered to be the toughest mile of this hike that runs over 2,ooo miles!

AT 1

Photo cred. Casey Butler

Myself along with my friend Casey and my Alaskan Husky, Freja decided to give this part of the AT a go this Memorial day weekend. I have hiked some portions of the AT in this region over the years but had never entered from this point before. We came in from the west and hike about 3 miles in on the Speck Pond trail where we met up with the AT near our first destination the Speck Pond Campsite. I've hiked Old Speck in the past but I had never approached it from the Speck Pond trail before so this was a nice change. When we were heading to the trail head we noticed that the parking areas to every trail had been packed. We had assumed it might be difficult finding a place to pitch our tents because all the tent platforms would probably be taken by the time we arrived. Having lived out in Tahoe for a decade and now in Sweden I had forgotten how difficult it could be to pitch a tent in this region without a designated camping spot.

Photo cred. Casey Butler

Photo cred. Casey Butler

As it turns out people must of been scared off by the weather forecast because when we arrived at the campsite it was empty. There was a little rain and wind in the forecast which made viewing the lake a little difficult but the bugs were almost all gone and the temperature was perfect for hiking, especially for Freja(the husky).

Photo cred. Casey Butler

Photo cred. Casey Butler

Casey had a two person tent and we decided would give it a go with the two of us and a dog in the tent. Fortunately Freja had no problem getting comfortable, although I'm not sure how much sleep the Casey and I actually got. I love this shot below, Casey couldn't resist snap this shot of Freja and I passed out in the tent. It was a little tight but it worked.

Photo cred. Casey Butler

Photo cred. Casey Butler

The next morning we awoke to a little rain. We decided we'd wait a bit to see if it let up. We were hoping to get a better view of the lake but unfortunately that was not the case. Eventually the rain did let up and we decided to make our way to the summit of Old Speck following the AT through some of the toughest terrain it has to offer. Freja, who's not exactly on voice command but usually is able to hike off the leash was grounded on this trip. Just a week before she decided to battle it out with a porcupine. One unanticipated and unwanted vet bill later and she was grounded to the leash. That's not too much of an issue except the recent rain and tough terrain made things a little interesting. Everybody knows husky's love to pull. That's great when your out on flat terrain but hiking up and down through boulder fields makes it a little challenging. Fortunately for me Freja and I had worked out a system that did not involve me falling on my but at any time. Thank you for that Freja!

Photo cred. Casey Butler

Photo cred. Casey Butler

It was still cloudy while we ventured up to the summit. Don't get us wrong, we loved the hike regardless of the view but we still hoped it would open up a little when we got to the top. As we headed up we saw some breaks in the clouds and started to get hopeful that we would be able to see more than just clouds. What we did see was just as nice as a bluebird day in my opinion!

view

Photo cred. Casey Butler

At the top of Old Speck 4,170 ft up you'll find an old fire lookout. Even if you're afraid of heights it's well worth the climb up. I think Casey would agree. It's also a great spot to snack on some Nature's Bakery Double Chocolate Brownie bars! Yeah, okay maybe it's only 8am but it's never too early for chocolate!

Photo cred. Casey Butler

Photo cred. Casey Butler

Yes, although it may be hard to believe I really did wake up looking like that! Smile for the camera, now Casey and I are even with not so flattering shots ;-).

Soon we headed down from the summit of Old Speck to route 26 where we had parked one of our cars. We found ourselves in the parking lot just as the sun came out. As nice as it is to have perfect sunny conditions I think I prefer what we got. Two days on the trail and we only ran into 5 people that were just passing by. For what felt like the first weekend of summer it was perfect. I can't wait to head out into the mountains again! Thanks to my friend Casey Butler who asked me to join and who also took most of the pictures. That was key in making sure I could manage my very hyper husky!


Jaclyn Paaso

After many years as a competitive mogul skier, with one title as Jr. World Combined Champion, Jaclyn decided to take a break from mogul skiing. Jaclyn moved out to Lake Tahoe, California where she became a freestyle coach for the Alpine Meadows Freestyle Team and then the Squaw Valley ski team.


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