Maine A.T. Land Trust’s latest Next Century Hike was up Old Speck Mountain in the Mahoosucs. A winter favorite, Old Speck is the 5th highest mountain in Maine and arguably the easiest 4,000 footer to climb. The roundtrip distance is 7.6 miles – not too bad by Maine standards – but more importantly, the route is below treeline until you reach the cleared summit area. It’s a fairly safe winter hike if you are adequately prepared.
Three of the four attendees met at the Grafton Notch parking area promptly at 8am. The fourth and final attendee, Bob, was not technically part of the group but since he knew we were coming we invited him to come along with the Maine A.T. Land Trust group. Conditions were great upon heading out – temperatures were in the mid 30s with no wind. It was cloudy, but since two people forgot their sunglasses this was ok. Despite the nice day, the group encountered only two other hiking groups for the entire day.
As the group ascended, the snow become drier owing to the colder conditions at higher elevations, and there was more rime and now on the trees. Snowshoes were not needed since the trail was packed out. Traction aids were necessary but the trail was not as icy as it was last March for a previous land trust hike. Since the group was small we made great time and reached the summit in exactly three hours.
After a quick lunch, with much sharing, Bob headed over to Speck Pond on the unbroken trail to scout out for fishing season. Bob is an L.L. Bean guide and says that fishing for brook trout in Speck Pond is exceptional. The three remaining hikers headed down, reaching the parking lot two hours later for a total trip of five hours. They saw only the two solo hikers and, more surprisingly, a couple skinning up the trail to backcountry ski down from Speck Pond.