View Full Version : mahoosuc notch beta

07-24-2010, 11:13
Im planning on section hiking the AT SOBO from grafton Notch to Gorham, going sol0. As much as I've heard about the difficulty of Mahoosic Notch NOBO, I'd appreciate any feedback on this section SOBO

07-24-2010, 14:23
primitive camp at the north end of the notch. have a huge breakfast and tackle it first thing in the morning. I actually enjoyed the obstacle course.

07-24-2010, 15:12
On a section hike of that part of the AT take your time and watch your footing while proceeding through the notch.

07-24-2010, 16:12
be careful descending Old Speck.

max patch
07-24-2010, 16:18
Its not "difficult" its just "slow". Big difference.

07-24-2010, 16:25
Some hikers can waltz right through there in less than 45 minutes, some can take up to six hours. A lot depends on how comfortable you are on top of the rocks. If you can confidently and safely stay on top (some exposure and some Class III moves), it's fast. If you have to crawl through below on the "ground", pulling your pack behind you, it's slow.

07-24-2010, 16:52
I think max patch said it right. It is slow going but not difficult. Going down the Mahoosuc Arm was more difficult to me. (Stress on the knees.) I camped on the northern end and did it first thing the next morning. It can be slippery but I enjoyed it. One of the more fun sections I've done.

07-24-2010, 17:26
It took me an hour to get through in the rain - it's not that bad. I stayed at the shelter about a mile south and went through it first thing in the morning when I was fresh.

As soon as you get through that you've got a big climb that'll make you forget all about it. :)

07-24-2010, 17:47
It's not too difficult. It's more accurate to say it can be slow going. You can mainly stay on top of the various sized rocks/boulders(some of which are the size of large automobiles/trucks) which can be slippery, rounded on top, and slanted which provides a faster go at it but also have a greater risk of possibly taking a nasty fall and occasionally walking/sneaking/crawling through the various sized boulders or doing some combination that you feel comfortable with. If it's wet or icy take your time!!!

After you get through the notch safely you'll have a greater appreciation of how rats feel in maze!!! feel!

07-24-2010, 17:56
The notch is not hard, it just consumes more time than your typical mile does. It's fun because it's different.

Migrating Bird
07-24-2010, 18:02
I went through SOBO last month and was apprehensive due to all the hype. It was a rainy, foggy day, I was by myself and it took me 1 hr, 45 min. because of the wet rocks - I made a mental note to watch out for the black rocks, they are smoother and greasy compared to the grey or white ones. The notch is not any harder that any single little scramble on the trail I encountered it is just continuous. I ended up taking my pack off twice. Pay close attention to the white blazes which in some cases are directional arrows, you can waste time getting off the trail (you can't get loose the trail too badly unless you play mountain goat). I stayed at Old Speck the night before and Full Goose shelter the night after only because it was a very wet day. The climb up Old Speck is not bad just take it slow. There is a beautiful brook that you cross as you descend the Arm (SOBO) - good place to get water. All in all I had a blast - it was really cool (no pun intended) to pass through thermoclines and fog from the ice and snow. It was mystical. Don't worry about, it is fun. Hope this helps.

Tin Man
07-24-2010, 20:10
One thing I have learned is that every "difficult" mile is actually very easy. "It's just walking," after all.

07-24-2010, 20:22
I hope to pass cover this section in September with a few college buds. Can't wait!

07-24-2010, 21:12
One thing I have learned is that every "difficult" mile is actually very easy. "It's just walking," after all.

I completely agree. The only trail you have to hike is the one right in front of you. Whatever is past that just takes up head space and often as not creates dread.

07-25-2010, 09:06
I made a mental note to watch out for the black rocks, they are smoother and greasy compared to the grey or white ones.

Sage. Works in the rest of Maine, too.

Going across the top of the boulders is the way to travel. Go slow and steady. Nice and cool in there on a hot day.

07-25-2010, 09:32
...Nice and cool in there on a hot day.

Oh, yes. I walked on some snow in there in July '08. Right by the dead moose ("Ernie").

Appalachian Tater
07-25-2010, 09:55
It is a bit like a puzzle and sometimes you have to really figure out where to go and what to do next. Short people have a harder time than tall people. I wouldn't want to try it in rain or if it were all covered with snow.

07-26-2010, 13:18
Thanks, guys,I appreciate all the feedback. looks like I'll be having a lot of fun. I've done plenty of 3rd class scrambles, so it should be a blast, Like you say, theres been a lot of hype about how difficult it is, so I'm just hoping for good weather..

07-26-2010, 20:06
I did a SOBO section hike through the notch last summer. I spent the night before at Speck Pond and after tackling the notch stopped at Full Goose when a heavy storm rolled in. I was more worried about Mahoosuc Arm than the notch. Just take your time and watch your foot placements carefully and you'll be fine. Hiking poles were a big help going down the arm too. The notch was just pure fun to me - I love the bouldering stuff. There's probably a good chance you'll find some other SOBO's at Speck Pond if you stop there.

07-29-2010, 12:38
I did the "Notch" last year S to N in cold, pouring rain and managed it in 2 hrs and 2 minutes. I was glad to have it behind me, but was pissed at myself for working myself into a frenzy for a day or two in advance due to all the hype I'd heard/read about. Don't listen to it.

Its a rock scramble, but if you go slow you'll have no real difficulty. I was 51, with sore knees and bandaged feet (but a sub 30 lb pack:) On my best day I don't resemble even an old mountain goat and the issue, once stuck into it, was never in doubt. Slowly, slowly catchee monkey....

The climb out up Old Speck was harder than the notch for my money.

Try to remember to have fun.


07-29-2010, 15:39
Thanks for the encouragement, Lemhi! I'm two years older and the knees have rapidly deteriorated over the past 4 years. I've also found that I'm a lot slower on with precarious footing than I used to be. How long did it take you to get through?

07-29-2010, 17:33
From the elevation map, Im inclined to agree that the march up old speck will probably be worse.The notch itself will probably end up being a lot of fun.I usually find when the guidebook says 5 hrs to do 8 miles, itll take me 3, but when it says 3 hrs, itll take me five, so your feedbacks been great.

09-22-2010, 22:24
I am a 65 yo traveling solo, northbound through the notch, probably on Saturday. Planning on staying at Speck Pond Shelter. What are the chances of being in the shelter (would like to lighten the pack for the notch)? How hard is it, really. I have knee issues and am not the world's best rock scrambler confidence wise...what da ya think?

09-23-2010, 11:39
I did the notch once in 20 minutes. It was February and all the rocks, boulders and crevices were covered with packed snow. Just an easy inclined plane.

Oh yeah. The mile took me two hours in 1993. Four hours on my first trip through with fresh snow one October.


09-23-2010, 16:01
primitive camp at the north end of the notch. have a huge breakfast and tackle it first thing in the morning. I actually enjoyed the obstacle course.

Good advice in either direction. Camp before then tackle in the morning.

It's all about attitude..... think fun, smile a lot, and eat plenty of Jolly Rancher candies as you navigate the rocks.


09-23-2010, 16:04
Anyone have any experience with the grafton loop trail? We're doing it next weekend!!!!