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  1. #1

    Default Maine Difficulty

    As someone who's hiked all of the AT except Grafton Notch to Mt. K.....and as someone who has developed chondromalcia patellae more recently and has done extensive PT/strengthening/flexibility/use the proper knee braces.............I'm wondering, when (if?) does the AT get less-rugged in Maine?

    I've heard everything from Grafton Notch, to Rangeley, to Stratton, to "never, except the last 40 miles". I'm just curious, as that will help me realistically plan my hike/food/pace/etc, and also get me in the right frame of mind before hiking. I used to do 15-mile days as a summer 'chunk' section-hiker, but was doing 6/7 mile days through the Mahoosics last summer, and left with the impression that the rest of Maine would be the same this summer.

    What's your take?

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crabapple View Post
    As someone who's hiked all of the AT except Grafton Notch to Mt. K.....and as someone who has developed chondromalcia patellae more recently and has done extensive PT/strengthening/flexibility/use the proper knee braces.............I'm wondering, when (if?) does the AT get less-rugged in Maine?

    I've heard everything from Grafton Notch, to Rangeley, to Stratton, to "never, except the last 40 miles". I'm just curious, as that will help me realistically plan my hike/food/pace/etc, and also get me in the right frame of mind before hiking. I used to do 15-mile days as a summer 'chunk' section-hiker, but was doing 6/7 mile days through the Mahoosics last summer, and left with the impression that the rest of Maine would be the same this summer.

    What's your take?
    Maine is tough from Grafton north and rugged as hell in some spots. After White Cap it gets fairly easy to Abol. There are some spots going into some of road crossings that get nice strecthes of flat but then you also have to look at fords.

  3. #3

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    The Section From Grafton Notch to Rt 17 (height of land) is very similar to the Mahoosucs with lots of steep ups and downs, inlcluding the ladders rungs on Moody Mountain. There are several road crossings and an option if you need it to head off trail between Hall and Mossdy Mtn but it requires a 2 mile walk to a dead end road. THe folks in Andover should be able to assist. From Rt 17 to RT 4 is fairly good going, some ups and down but realtviely well graded. Rt 4 to Rt 27 is rugged three day backpack, not readilly dayhikable. Ther Saddlebacks are a lot broken rock like the whites, Once you hit Pleasant ridge shelter the trail to Sugaloaf is well graded ridgeline. The hike down off sugaloaf is steep and rock. The Crockers are well graded not that rocky sort of like southern NH or VT but with more elevation. From Rt 27 up Bigelow is also well grades but the run down to Long Falls dam road is steep. Longfalls Dam road to Rt 201 s well graded except for the final drop to the river. Rt 201 to Monson is steep to begin with with a few fall line ascents but it gets easier as you approach Monson. !00 miels wilderness is no worse than what you have already gone over, the first stretch from Monson to the base of Whitecap has a lot of ups and down with a lot of major stone steps. From White cap to Abol bridge gets easier every day. With regard to Katahdin, the AT is well grade dwon low and then goes through a major boulder field which requires using you hands extensively and a lot of boulder scrambing. Once you hit the plateau its easy walking to the summit. The "easiest" way down off Katahdin is via the Saddle trail, but even it is steep and lose footing for about 1000 feet. You would need to arrange a ride from the east side of the mountain if you went this route.

  4. #4
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    In my memory, it eased off a bit after the Bigelow range (just north of Stratton). From there into Monson was pretty peachy, at least compared to the abuse of the previous few weeks, which started from Moosilauke and continued pretty much nonstop through the Bigelows. After Monson it picks up again until after Whitecap.
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  5. #5
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    when you get to the Bigelows, from there to MT. K is typical AT terrain. From the Bigelows south thru the last 100 miles or so of NH, that is hiking unlike anything most hikers have ever encountered.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    The Section From Grafton Notch to Rt 17 (height of land) is very similar to the Mahoosucs with lots of steep ups and downs, inlcluding the ladders rungs on Moody Mountain. There are several road crossings and an option if you need it to head off trail between Hall and Mossdy Mtn but it requires a 2 mile walk to a dead end road. THe folks in Andover should be able to assist. From Rt 17 to RT 4 is fairly good going, some ups and down but realtviely well graded. Rt 4 to Rt 27 is rugged three day backpack, not readilly dayhikable. Ther Saddlebacks are a lot broken rock like the whites, Once you hit Pleasant ridge shelter the trail to Sugaloaf is well graded ridgeline. The hike down off sugaloaf is steep and rock. The Crockers are well graded not that rocky sort of like southern NH or VT but with more elevation. From Rt 27 up Bigelow is also well grades but the run down to Long Falls dam road is steep. Longfalls Dam road to Rt 201 s well graded except for the final drop to the river. Rt 201 to Monson is steep to begin with with a few fall line ascents but it gets easier as you approach Monson. !00 miels wilderness is no worse than what you have already gone over, the first stretch from Monson to the base of Whitecap has a lot of ups and down with a lot of major stone steps. From White cap to Abol bridge gets easier every day. With regard to Katahdin, the AT is well grade dwon low and then goes through a major boulder field which requires using you hands extensively and a lot of boulder scrambing. Once you hit the plateau its easy walking to the summit. The "easiest" way down off Katahdin is via the Saddle trail, but even it is steep and lose footing for about 1000 feet. You would need to arrange a ride from the east side of the mountain if you went this route.

    This sounds like good information, based on what I remember. Very nicely detailed.

    I'll post the link to my blog where I crossed into Maine. If you want to follow it through Maine and see how many miles I did and what I thought was hard, maybe you can get something useful from it.

    http://carryonadventures.blogspot.co...e-shelter.html

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    I agree with most above. After the Bigelows the terrain gets a little easier.

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    If you hike through Maine on a wet year the mud could cause as much knee damage as anything else because you probably won't be expecting it.
    Pain is a by-product of a good time.

  9. #9

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    I *really* appreciate all of the detailed information! Seems like I'll be taking it slow, but better that than being 'off the trail'.
    Thank you

  10. #10
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    Maine is brutally beautiful

  11. #11
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    I've walked all of Maine several times: on weekend and vacation hikes with my three kids ages 6-12, on a 30-day hike with a 9-year-old grandson, on a thru hike from Georgia at age 64, as a trail maintainer, as an occasional trail overseer, and just because I liked to explore wild mountains summer and winter. I never considered Maine particularly difficult, but I never was out to set any records. I just leisurely enjoyed the Maine wildness, the views, the wildlife, the trees, and flowers. The AT in Maine is just a beautiful place. Overall, Maine has by far the best of what the Appalachian Trail offers.

  12. #12
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    Maine is a green wasteland. You are mostly hiking though regrown clearcut.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by swjohnsey View Post
    Maine is a green wasteland. You are mostly hiking though regrown clearcut.
    Definitely. A terrible state overall. Nothing to see. Might as well get off the trail in Gorham. It's got f*** all compared to the pristine splendor of Kingsville, Texas.
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  14. #14
    Registered User swjohnsey's Avatar
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    Did you see where the carload of undocument works got lost while trying to evade the Border Patrol and crashed into the barrier at the NAS Kingsville gate killing only six of twelve? Most excitement we've had 'round here since the nursing home caught on fire.

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    Quote Originally Posted by weary View Post
    I've walked all of Maine several times: on weekend and vacation hikes with my three kids ages 6-12, on a 30-day hike with a 9-year-old grandson, on a thru hike from Georgia at age 64, as a trail maintainer, as an occasional trail overseer, and just because I liked to explore wild mountains summer and winter. I never considered Maine particularly difficult, but I never was out to set any records. I just leisurely enjoyed the Maine wildness, the views, the wildlife, the trees, and flowers. The AT in Maine is just a beautiful place. Overall, Maine has by far the best of what the Appalachian Trail offers.
    +1 Weary, thank you for your advise a couple of years ago when I hiked ME, definitely helped and thanks for your years of service. Maine has a beautiful trail in the most beautiful State.

  16. #16
    Registered User weary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swjohnsey View Post
    Maine is a green wasteland. You are mostly hiking though regrown clearcut.
    the trail corridor has never been clearcut. That's a phenomenon that mostly began after the National Parks people moved in. Maine woodland owners traditionally used selective cutting, i.e. "take the best, leave the rest." which preserves the remnants of a natural forest. Clear cutting was a last minute effort of the big corporation stockholders to get one last bit of profit out of Maine before shifting to the cheaper wood sources of Asia, South America and Africa. Luckily Maine is a rainy state with almost a rain forest by world standards. Trees just naturally grow here. What you see is not the remains of a clearcut, but the fourth forest, the remains of repeated harvests. A birch sapling I planted when I bought my house and two acres a half century ago is now two and a half feet in diameter. Pines and maples we planted to mark the border with adjacent property now towers higher than the two story home I built after a bad fire 30 years ago. Maine is not a primal wilderness. None of the trail is. But Maine remains the best in the East.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by SCRUB HIKER View Post
    In my memory, it eased off a bit after the Bigelow range (just north of Stratton). From there into Monson was pretty peachy, at least compared to the abuse of the previous few weeks, which started from Moosilauke and continued pretty much nonstop through the Bigelows. After Monson it picks up again until after Whitecap.
    Quote Originally Posted by 4shot View Post
    when you get to the Bigelows, from there to MT. K is typical AT terrain. From the Bigelows south thru the last 100 miles or so of NH, that is hiking unlike anything most hikers have ever encountered.
    Quote Originally Posted by redseal View Post
    I agree with most above. After the Bigelows the terrain gets a little easier.
    Per my experience, yes to all of the above. The last peak of the Bigalows going north is Avery Peak. The descent from Avery down into Safford Notch is pretty brutal. After that, the trail becomes easier - that's when my daily mileage increased (not that I was interested in setting records).

  18. #18

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    As I hiked south last August, I found that Maine got harder the further south I went (ignoring the whole Katadin thing)and only eased up the last day into Gorham. It seemed perfectly built to get me into shape for the Whites with increasing difficulty as I went. It wasn't too bad north of Stratton except for some areas of root hell in the 100 mile wilderness. The middle of the climb for Mt. Katadin, where you gain most of your elevation, isn't even a trail. Its a class 3 rock climb.

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