View Full Version : Gorham to Grafton Notch help

06-26-2017, 13:01
My husband who is thru-hiking nobo has made it from Harper's Ferry to Gorham. He is alone. Since he is headed into a rather dangerous terrain, the Mahoosics, I wondered if anyone is hiking this section now and would be willing to hike with him. He is a 68 year old hiker, slow but determined and goal oriented. It would be good to have someone with him for safety reasons as he gets through this area.
But he will do it, alone or not. He's in Gorham now, and I'm sure there are many experienced hikers in the area.

06-26-2017, 13:08
I forgot to mention that he's a former Vietnam marine and retired army. Just to give you a little idea of his determination to complete the Trail.

06-26-2017, 13:40
Go to the hostel on the AT on Rt 2. Going to be renamed Rattle River Hostel sic.
They will show how to slack the first 8 ca miles. The next day he can hike to Goose Mt Shelter and rendezvous with other hikers from the shelter. Then he can go through M Notch with others and plod north.

06-26-2017, 13:45
When? I'm theoretically available this Friday :-)


06-26-2017, 14:18
Friday is probably way too late if he is there now.

06-26-2017, 14:42
Its the busy time of the year in the Mahoosucs plenty of folks on the trail. Plenty of bail out options. There is cell coverage on the ridgelines, even if he does need help and there isn't coverage he will encounter someone who can get to coverage fairly quickly. There are bail options quite evenly spaced. Its rooty and rocky but most of time the ones who get hurt are folks trying to go too fast for the conditions. Mahoosuc Notch is more like a physical chess game than inherently dangerous. The challenge is just picking the path of least resistance and not caring how long it takes to go through.

06-26-2017, 14:44
I'm not sure I'd be able to make it thru there again myself.

The weather is going to continue to be unsettled with a good chance of rain everyday this week, which will complicate the hike even more. I wish him luck, but he might be best off skipping this section.

06-26-2017, 16:58
If he's made it through the Whites, he can make it through the Mahoosucs.

06-26-2017, 21:08
Thanks for the suggestions, everyone. He is at the hostel on Rt 2 and will continue on tomorrow morning. He is a slow and careful hiker. There has been an awful lot of rain this spring, making things slippery, and we were hoping that it would get better. After talking to an experienced thru-hiker, Eric at the hostel and Earl at the Cabin he felt better about going forward, and we went over the map with bail-out trails in between shelters. Glad to hear that there will be plenty of hikers on the trail.

06-26-2017, 21:11
If he's made it through the Whites, he can make it through the Mahoosucs.

Depends on how bad the Whites beat him up. The weather around here has been less then ideal lately. Depends on where he was on the bad days and where he was on the good days.

06-27-2017, 06:43
A question...It looks like all the bail out trails in this section go to Success Pond Rd. Is that correct? Also, ARambler, where would the pickup be if he slack packed the 8 miles north of Rt 2? Hank has been at Rattle River hostel for two nights and Eric didn't mention this option, even though the subject of slack packing came up.

06-27-2017, 08:57
There are bail out an slackpacking opportunities all along this stretch. Let me go through them from Rt 2 to RT 26. I don't know what various providers offer for options but will make a guess

The first possible bail out point is on Mt Hayes via the Mahoosuc trail heading back to Gorham, there is no time savings using this and the trail dumps a hiker out on the wrong side of the river and it requires 1.9 miles to actually get to the other side of the river using a poorly marked bypass. Only use is really "the heck with it I am hiking down and getting on a bus" (It is a nice trail by some nice features and is a former AT route).

From the Mahoosuc trail junction there is hint of what is to come on the climb up Cascade Mtn but most of the hiking is easy. At Dream Lake are two bail out options that go to North Road in Shelburne which is populated. The locals are usually pretty good to hikers and frequently drive to town as there are zero services into town (no gas or general store). Peabody Brook trail (an old AT route) is probably the exit from slackpacking option that others have referenced, There is alternative via Dryad Falls trail to the Austin Brook trail, no real advantage unless the hostel is willing to drive in via logging roads to pick them up.

Next and last easy slackpack and bail out point is at the Gentian Pond shelter. From there the Austin Brook trail leads to North Road in Shelburne. Many folks can dayhike from Hogan Road (at the Centennial trail trailhead to Gentian Pond but its long day for some.

From now on after leaving Gentian Pond (a really nice spot), bailouts are still possible but they inevitably end up way in the woods on a logging road with far less likely chance to getting a ride and marginal cell service. If the hiker is anticipating they need to make phone call, make it while they are up high on the ridge not down near the road.

First bail out from Gentian is the Success Trail heading to Success Pond Road (to the north). Few folks offer this as slackpack as the drive up Success Pond road is slow and bumpy and its quite a few miles to get to the south side of the trail, Shelburne NH. There are no houses or camps to speak off along this road and cell service can be marginal the farther east of Berlin one heads. This stretch of the AT starts to live up the Mahoosucs reputation, it starts out as a woods walk but eventually transitions to rooty and rocky. It doesn't get any better from there on.

Next bail point is Carlo Col trail to the Success Pond Road (same caveats apply). Mt Carlo has stretch of steep ledges with iron bars in rocks to assist hikers and some interesting scrambles.

Next bail out point is the Goose Eye trail to Success Pond road. The AT stretch from Goose Eye to Fulling Mill mountain is underappreciated gem of the AT, there is long ridge line section where the views north and south start to be mostly woods and water with signs of civilization be very rare (especially if looking north). Cell service is actually good on the ridge as there is nearly ski area but it rapidly disappears once the trail drops off the ridge.

Next bail out point is the Wright trail to the Bull Branch road that eventually transitions to Sunday River Road which eventually end up in Bethel Maine. This spot is pretty desolate with no houses for several miles and its dead end road. The only hope of a ride is there is popular swimming area with locals just down the road from the trailhead, time it right and the hiker may get lucky (or even be designated driver for one of the locals ;)).

Next bail out point is the Notch trail to Success Pond Road. This is the time for the hiker to reassess their condition as this junction is the start of Mahoosuc Notch the arguable hardest 1 mile section on the AT. There are potentially more dangerous spots on the AT, the "hardest" aspect is its a near continuous boulder scramble for 1 mile with a couple of short sections where the trail runs through boulder caves. The going can be tight and there are few spots where the hiker needs to take their packs off. There are pockets of ice year round and in summer the cold boulders form a cloud bank so things are usually damp. The boulder fields are large boulders (car size) that have fallen down from the surrounding cliffs and are loosely packed. No need for headlamps but just a wonderful place on hot day. There is plenty of traffic through here and unless your husband wants to be alone he doesn't have to be. At the south end of the notch the trail makes a fairly distinct turn left out of the stream bed and passes some large flat campsites before taking another sharp left upslope. Someone comfortable with cross country travel can easily follow the south bank of Mahoosuc Brook and pick up the abandoned section of Bull Branch road which eventually ends up at the Wright Trail trailhead

The turn left up hill after the flat campsites at the end of Mahoosuc Notch begins the climb up Mahoosuc Arm, this is very steep going through wooded slopes. It has a bit of reputation as many AT hikers are doing long miles at this point and expect the Arm to be a quick easy ascent, they tend to be running late due to the extra time in the Notch. This is definitely a steep unrelenting hike up the Arm and pretty good exercise for the next weeks worth of hiking as most of the climbs in Western Me are quite similar.

At the top of the Arm there is the last real bail out which is a short walk on the May Cutoff to the Speck Pond Trail out to Success Pond Road.

I have dayhiked (slackpacked) all of these sections at one time or another. Practically due to the long distances involved slackpacking can get expensive unless there is group who splits costs.

A phone number to keep available is this firm http://trailangelshikerservices.com/ 603-326-6382. They are based in Berlin NH and know all the tricks trailheads and shortcuts. They are the closest to Success pond Road. They are not big firm and may only have one vehicle so may not be available when needed but definitely the first one to call. The hostel in Shelburne is an extra 45 minute away from Success Pond Road than Trail Angels.

It is important to note that the trail is located in two states, the hiker needs to know which state they are in as S&R can be two different entities. There should be 911 service but its important when 911 answers to make it clear which state the hiker is in as it could delay response (not all the agencies cooperate in this area but still makes sense to have the right one in charge).

06-27-2017, 09:14
Peakbagger, thank you for the detailed and concise response. And so early in the morning! I will copy and paste your post and message it to Hank, who is already on his way. Eric at the hostel gave him the trailangel number. Earl from the Cabin is willing to pick him up at the Notch Trailhead, but I think it will be Friday before he gets there. His safety is always my worry. So far he's had falls and gotten somewhat banged up, but nothing serious, although he's concerned about his numb toes. I think your info should be included in AWOL and Guthook. Very valuable. Thanks again.

06-27-2017, 09:37
My slack was to have the hostel take me to the Austin Brook Trail, At Gentian Pond, I hiked sobo back to Route 2. Yes, this may be a bit long, but you want to do a good chunk to justify the repeat hike on the Austin Brook trail.

06-27-2017, 09:52
No problem.

Some trivia is that I believe that this is the longest stretch of the AT that does not cross a road, public or private north of the Smokies. The 100 Mile wilderness has more road crossings but has a better PR agent ;)

06-27-2017, 13:23
Lets hope the weather holds up for the next few days. Looks like most of the rain will skirt south of us, but you never knew in these parts. I've seen it go from not a cloud in the sky to torrential rain in a 1/2 hour.