On a recent Saturday, the land trust spent the day in Grafton Notch State Park as part of our Maine Hikes guided Appalachian Trail hike program. The A.T. follows the Mahoosuc Range from the New Hampshire border for approximately twenty miles before crossing the Baldpates and heading north to Bemis Mountain and beyond.
We had a group of ten set out on the A.T. – destination, Old Speck, the fifth highest mountain in Maine and the highest until the A.T. reaches Crocker Mountain. It was a beautiful, clear day (as you can see from the photos) and the conditions were manageable. Kimberley had hiked up Old Speck just a week before and she said that snowshoes weren’t needed, so everybody in the group of ten (and two dogs) slipped on their traction aids and we headed up at 8:30am.
Traction aids were definitely needed! While the ground was bare at lower elevations, once we entered the woods there was ice on the trail. Above about 2,500 feet, there was 1 to 2 feet of snow in the woods and there were long stretches of trail that were covered in frozen meltwater. Fortunately, everybody helped out and the dogs were either carried or they went through the deep snow in the woods. The sun was out and the winds were generally light, and everybody was hungry by the time we reached the summit at 1pm. We spent about half an hour on top and a few people headed up the fire tower.
Three or four additional groups were there at the same time. The conditions were so nice that one group unpacked a camp stove and made grilled cheese sandwiches! Temperatures were in the 40’s and winds remained light. Another guy set up a hammock between a tree and the fire tower leg. Our group hit the trail at 1:30pm.
The ice was a bit more difficult going down but we took our time and helped each other out. We made up time by descending quickly, as the temperatures were in the 50’s at lower elevations and much of the snow and ice on the trail had softened significantly. Back at the cars at 4:30pm. A great hike with even greater company!