By Louise Jensen
Sunday brought together six veteran MATLT hikers to venture up Old Speck in Grafton Notch State Park. Old Speck, at 4,180 feet, is the tallest and northern-most mountain in the Mahoosuc Range that stretches for 30 miles across Maine and New Hampshire. From route 26 in the Park, the AT (Old Speck Trail) runs south to the Mahoosuc trail and then a short spur takes you to the summit of Old Speck where a fire tower provides spectacular 360 views.
Before heading up, we noticed some folks setting up some “trail magic” in the parking lot for AT through hikers. We did see some thru hikers coming down as we ascended; 2 particular fellows were very happy to be in Maine and getting closer to their final destination. I’m sure the trail magic was a welcome sight.
The weather started out cool and partly cloudy – really perfect conditions for hiking. Although, we “donned” some bug spray, the bug population conveniently stayed away for the most part. No complaints there! Water crossings were easy, the waterfall was flowing nicely and the footing, though still wet and muddy in places from last week’s downpours, was very manageable. As this is a steep and rugged hike, we took our time, stopping frequently to admire how lush the forest is this time of year and to take in the intermittent views along the way. We passed the trails leading to the Eyebrow – not in our plans for the day – and continued steeply up and down using a narrow foot bridge and a ladder, stepping over a large blowdown and under another to finally reach our destination. Along the way, we met up with MOAC hikers and Maine AMC hikers – Sunday was a popular day to be out.
The summit was sunny and breezy. We ate lunch, enjoyed the limited view and climbed the tower to take in that fantastic 360 view. Well, some of us did. The tower has a very straight ladder that can be a little scary to climb on – not everyone’s cup of tea! After one of our members did her customary yoga head stand and we took the traditional group photo, we headed down, moving more quickly than our ascent. After about an hour, we got caught in a brief summer shower that dampened the trails just enough to make it a bit slippery so extra caution was needed. The sun soon popped out again, and we all arrived safely at the parking lot – happy and satisfied hikers!