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Notch Story –

Combined Op. MNOB (Mahoosuc Notch Or Busted) and RamSham’s Journals –

05:00 – Op. MNOB left Bethel Outdoor Adventure, Bethel ME heading for Mahoosuc Notch Trailhead – around 55 miles away

06:30 – Op. MNOB began hiking from Mahoosuc Notch Trail (2.5 miles one way)

07:15 – Op. MNOB arrived at Appalachian Trail junction and began to scramble through the Mahoosuc Notch (1.1 miles one way)

08:00 – RamSham and Cane arrived at the East side of the Mahoosuc Notch and filtered the water from the brook

08:15 – Op. MNOB, Cane, and RamSham rendezvoused on East side of the Mahoosuc Notch

08:30 – Op. MNOB began hiking together going North on AT through the Mahoosuc Notch

Cane and Op. MNOB - Cane, Molly, Sam, & Paul

Cane and Op. MNOB – Cane, Molly, Sam, & Paul

10:30 – Break time in the Notch – half-way of the Notch

13:00 – Arrived at the West side of the Mahoosuc Notch!  High-fived each other and had a quick-lunch together.

13:20 – Began hiking going down on the side trail – Mahoosuc Notch Trail

14:30 – Arrived at the trail head!  Began to drive back to Bethel Outdoor Adventure.

15:45 – Arrived at Bethel Outdoor Adventure!  Everyone was filled with joy to see us back in one piece!

Molly's Journal - Op. MNOB

Molly’s Journal – Op. MNOB

After scrambling through the notch, we arrived at trail around noon.  I asked Op. MNOB if we are done with scrambling through the notch and they said yeah.  Yay….we high-fived each other and hiked on.  Opps, in 5 minutes later, we encountered another part of the notch forcing us to scramble again…..just like “false summit” – we got a “false notch-end”.  LOL  No worries, It was nice to cheer on each other for our progress!  Ha!

Oh gosh…..after halfway and break, I encountered a pesky bee kept on hovering and pestering on me from time to time.  I became enraged, cussed, and swapped at it, but no luck for next 15 minutes.  The pesky bee somehow decided to bother Cane and landed on Cane’s left knee.  To my amazement, Cane swapped at it and it fell down on the dirt wiggling!  I was exalted and screamed with excitement to get my opportunity – crucified it with my pole!!!!!!  Op. MNOB laughed at that!

My poor shoulder – after halfway – Cane fell through the opening part of the boulders while holding my hand to support him…he nearly ripped off my shoulder and I refused to let him go.  Naturally, I screamed in pain and grunted loudly that Op. MNOB scrambled to help us out.  After that, I asked Molly to support with holdings and Paul with pulling-ups over difficult boulder to climb over.  I am grateful for them to come through and support all the way with us.

To our amazement and delightful, we encountered some ice and snow in deep opening part of the boulders where the sun doesn’t shine at all.  You can see “frosty” air rising out of the opening parts……wow!  Natural A.C.!

We squiggled and wiggled through the “cave” part of boulders 4 times.  We had to remove our pack to get through 2 out of 4 times.  It was fun!

It was terrific plans that Op. MNOB got to scramble going south before meeting us, so they got to have some fun scrambling and scouting at same time.  It helped all of us tremendously to navigate our way through the notch going north.

It took Bulldog, the blind hiker, 9.5 hours to scramble from west end to east end of the Notch (1.1 miles one way).  With Op. MNOB and myself, it took Cane 4.5 hours to scramble from end to end!  If it wasn’t for Op. MNOB, it would take more than 4.5 hours to get through and I do not even want to think about how many more hours it might take us to do it on our own!  We are in everlasting debt to Op. MNOB, Jeff & Pattie, and Bethel Outdoor Adventure for backing us and their steadfast support.

Now, we can say that we got the Mahoosuc Notch – “the toughest one mile of the entire AT” – under our belt!  😉

Milestones

We are proud to say that we logged in over 2,000 miles, so we are 4,000 milers together!  YAY!!!!!

2000 Miles!!!!

2000 Miles!!!!

2000 Miles - RamSham

2000 Miles – RamSham

2000 Miles - Cane

2000 Miles – Cane

Since June 2013, we finally passed 100 miles of hiking in NH and ME.

Less than 155 miles left to complete our AT journey.

We conquered the Mahoosuc Notch with help of Op. MNOB!

Tidbits

We should be able to remember the date of hiking through the infamous Mahoosuc Notch by using Prince George Alexander Louis’s birth date – 22-July-13!  😎

After 4 years of thinking, talking about, researching, reading about, making countless plans, asking around, dreaming about, watching videos, checking out some pictures, and watching the weather forecast, it came down to ONE plan consisting of Op. MNOB and weather forecast which was decided on 2 days before we began our hiking.  It is so unbelievable that the time allocation of hiking planning took around 80% of our time (around 6 days) and rest of time allocation went to hiking for next 3 days.  We must thank Jeff for getting up at unholy hour and dropping us off at Grafton Notch to beat the heavy down pouring of rain in mid-afternoon.

We are humble and honored that Cane received a precious gift from Jeff & Pattie – bag of Ta-Ka-Radi – the game they introduced to the world here in USA.  I didn’t know that they were the one who created and sell them as I have seen them in L.L. Beans and Lands’ End until Jeff asked me to look up the website on Ta-Ka-Radi.  Wow!  I asked them to consider to make a bigger version of Ta-Ka-Radi for people with visual loss, so it can be easier for them to play while tactic-ling and they will think about it.

We got to chat with two nice hikers, Ninja and Treesgram, at Speck Pond shelter.  Ninja knew some ASL due to her taking some ASL courses at university in San Diego, CA.  She is from CA and Treesgram is from Ohio.  Both of them are SOBOs.  We wish them well for their journey to GA.

Cane bought a new rain pants prior to hiking from Mahoosuc Notch Trail to Rt. 2 Gorham, but unfortunately, on first day of hiking, his rain pants was ripped in back with a large hole resulting from him doing a split legs trying to get over the muddy area of the trail.  I decided to up-cycle his new torn rain pants by cutting some fabric and sewing them onto his old tattered rain pants with Pattie’s awesome sewing machine at Bethel Outdoor Adventure.  We plan to show the pictures next time when the time permits.  Now, his new $160.00 rain pants will not be a total LOSS and Cane shall not be total WET without his rain pants!  😎

It leaves us with 3 major legs to concentrate on –

Saddleback – around 24 miles in length

Bigelows – around 16 miles in length

Monson – Katahdin (100-mile Wilderness) – around 114 miles in length

We made it through with awesome Op. MNOB crew with 4.5 hrs from end to end (1.1 miles) and 6 hours of hiking (through Mahoosuc Notch and side trail – Mahoosuc Notch Trail – 2.5 miles).  We finally arrived at Bethel Outdoor Adventure by 3:45 pm and we are totally tired.  Cane and I have been up since 5:30 am getting prepared and met our Op. MNOB crew at end (east side) by 8:15 am with only 15 minites of waiting time!  They ripped through Mahoosuc Notch in one hour with light backpack!  LOL!  We are having a hearty dinner and I get to nurse my poor shoulder and knee which are swelling (shoulder – Cane almost ripped off my shoulder when he fell through one of these holes in the notch in halfway and Op. MNOB crew – Molly, Paul, and Sam – helped us out rest of way).  I will live through and am well-stocked ibuprofen and ice packs supplied by Jeff and Pattie.  More details and information will be posted shortly as I get to recuperating tonight.  So glad we made it through without breaking any bones or sucked through one of these holes!  🙂  Until next time, folks!

Hiya folks –

We spend all this week at Bethel Outdoor Adventure –

Monday – recuperating from 5 day of challenging hiking, planning for our next hiking leg

Tuesday – tubing down Androscoggin River with Daren and Priscilla, planning for our next hiking leg, working, shopping, blogging

Wednesday – shopping, mending our equipment, seriously planning for our next hiking leg, working, blogging

Thursday – working, seriously planning for our next hiking leg, blogging

Today (Friday) – finalizing plans for Grafton Notch to Mahoosuc Notch Trail – the most challenging leg as ever along with a support crew named “Operation MNOB (Mahoosuc Notch Or Bust)”, working, blogging, shopping

According to our hiking leg plans, Cane and I are slated to commerce our hiking tomorrow morning at 5:30 am going to Speck Pond Shelter – around 4.6 miles of climbing with around 2,500 feet of elevation gain.  We hope the weather forecast for tomorrow will be in our favor – rain, shower, or no shower rather than thunderstorm or heavy rain.

On Sunday, we are to climb down on Mahoosuc Arm to east side of the Mahoosuc Notch to camp out – around 3 miles.

On Monday, the Operation MNOB will hike out from Bull Branch Road to meet us at the east side of the Mahoosuc Notch by 10:00 am or earlier to provide support to Cane to get through “the toughest one mile of the AT” Mahoosuc Notch and come out at Mahoosuc Notch Trail.  Around less than 4 miles in total.

It will be around 10 miles over 3 days for Cane and myself.  The masterminds of this plan are Jeff and Pattie.  The Operation MNOB consists of Paul and Molly and her friends.  We have contingency plans in place too.  The reason we all decided to go for it this weekend cuz of weather forecast, close location to Grafton Notch and Mahoosuc Notch, and availability of support team.  Please wish and pray for all of us to get through with this plan with no or minor injuries.

After completing the leg from Carter Notch to Rt. 2 in Gorham and taking a couple of days of zero, we started to plan for hiking in Mahoosuc Notch area between Grafton Notch (Rt. 26) to Mahoosuc Notch Trail (side trail).  It was going to be 8.2 miles in length rather than hiking from Grafton Notch to Rt. 2 in Gorham – 31 miles in length.  It is done on purpose to keep our backpack light as possible to get through infamous “toughest one mile of entire AT” Mahoosuc Notch.  You can google it up to watch some videos to check out these size of unbelievable boulders – VW cars!  The hikers go through this particular area are required to scramble.  With easy trail to hike on for 1 mile, it may take around 1/2 hour, but it is not the case with Mahoosuc Notch.  For the most of hikers, it may take them around 2 hours to scramble through merely 1 mile of the notch!  The blind man named Bulldog went through this area and it took him 9.5 hours.  We stopped by Bethel Outdoor Adventure on our zero day to inquire where we can buy Cane’s frayed bicycle helmet and shin guards to replace them.  Pattie was thrilled to see us again and to our surprise, she offered Cane a choice of used bicycle helmet from shelf which was used for rental bicycle ride.  Cane found perfectly fitted bicycle helmet.  Yay!  We were going to hunt on shin guards and Pattie was helpful by giving us a place to check out – Bethel Bicycle Center.  They didn’t have the certain shin guards Cane wanted, so we asked Alyssa G. to buy one for him from Portland before she made her trip to Bethel.  Jeff, Pattie’s husband (which I finally learned his name on that day which we didn’t catch his name when he first dropped us off to begin our hiking from Grafton Notch toward Stratton this past June), showed up and was delighted to see us again.  We ended up making a plan for hiking between Grafton Notch and Mahoosuc Notch Trail for a couple of hours via paper and pen.  Jeff has an invaluable and wealth of knowledge and experience from his Outward Bound days.  We left with the solid plans, good feeling, and motivated/determined to get that “under our belt” for once and all!

Alyssa G. came up on Monday night – 7-July, to join with Cane and me to hike through Mahoosuc Notch as an additional support team member.  However, with the terrible weather we had for a couple of days – rain, foggy, and wet – we weren’t sure if it was a wise decision to make an attempt.  After chatting with Kevin and Polly – owner of lovely Mahoosuc Mountain Lodge – and Jeff and Pattie – owner of Bethel Outdoor Adventure -, we decided that it was best to postpone our attempt to later date with better weather forecast as it was critical factor for us to hike safely for all of us especially for Cane.  In addition, Alyssa was available until Friday morning.  We made a decision on Tuesday morning.  We were crushed and disappointed, but felt comfortable with our decision.  We decided to make a phone call to Bethel Outdoor Adventure to see if we can talk with Jeff and Pattie about revising our plans and was told that we are more than welcome to show up at 4 pm for a tea time.  We went ahead and bought Irish shortbread that ought “blend well” with English Tea Time.  We showed up and found ourselves on the “round table” with Jeff, Pattie, Daren R., Priscilla R. and Molly along with Alyssa G. interpreting and Pattie making English tea for all of us.  With Alyssa’s presence, it helped to make our communication smoothly and at ease.  We were thankful for her willing to bridge our communication.  We came up with the plans from Mahoosuc Notch Trail to Rt. 2 – around 23 miles in total with 5 days – breaking up around 5 miles each for shelter/campsite knowing that Cane requiring more time to hike through trail filled with exposed tree roots, wet rocks/slabs, bogs, and etc.  His average of hiking remained at 5 miles a day for around 10 hours to 12 hours.  Daren and Molly volunteered to be our re-supply team at Carlo Col shelter, so we can carry 2 days worth of food to start with then carry 3 days worth of food for rest of the trail to help Cane managing his weight on his backpack.  The weight on his backpack is challenging for him because when he slips or falls, the weight may easily pull down or throw him off the trail due to his challenging balance condition.  We felt better knowing that we didn’t have to deal with carrying 5 days worth of food.  At end of the meeting, Jeff told us that he would be disappointed if we didn’t show up at Bethel Outdoor Adventure after completing our leg between Mahoosuc Notch Trail and Rt.2.  At that time, we began to realize how supportive  from Bethel Outdoor Adventure community/staff toward Cane’s attempt to complete his AT dream/journey.  What is even more is that not only it comes with Jeff’s knowledge and experience, but his and Pattie’s resources are open to us to help us out.

Kevin gave us a lift going to Mahoosuc Notch Trail (2 hours of traveling one way – dropping off our re-supply food at Bethel Outdoor Adventure, dropping off my car at Rt. 2, then driving on dirt road for around 11 miles to trail head).  We began our hiking on Mahoosuch Notch Trail with exciting anticipation of trying to beat the rain by arriving at the shelter in early afternoon.  Upon our arrival at AT junction, we took a peek at Mahoosuc Notch and began our hiking going south.  It was a bit challenging of climbing which required us to use hand-to-hand climbing from time to time on our ascent.   After getting to the top, we encountered countless bogs with some depreciating, rotten, missing and/or underwater planks to walk over….sometimes we had to walk, perhaps more of “swim”, through.  At one point, I almost lost my boot in one of these deep bogs!!!!!  We arrived at Full Goose Shelter around 2 pm beating the heavy pouring of rain!  We remained at the shelter rest of the day keeping ourselves dry and warm.  A group of female hikers arrived and stayed overnight.  For the first time, Cane was finally a “minority” – surrounded by female hikers!  😉

On 2nd day of our hiking, we hiked toward Carlo Col Shelter which was 4.7 miles, but took us 9 hours.  We arrived finding Daren chilling out around his hammock – yay, one of hammock fiends!  I proceeded to set up mine with excitement having a hammock neighbor at last!  Daren, Cane, and I got to chat via Daren’s notebook – getting each other know a bit more.  Jeff left us a trail magic – sugar cookies.  Cane happily wolfed down his and mine (I am allergic to wheat/gluten which Jeff and Pattie do not know yet.).  Daren told us that he will join us hiking on section of AT to next side trail, Success Trail, to get off next day.  Wow, nice to have a company on the trail for while!  🙂

3rd day of hiking – We left Carlo Col Shelter early in the morning by 7:00 am heading for Gentian Pond Shelter which was around 5.7 miles away.  Immediately, we faced with a huge obstacle to overcome – using our rock climbing skills to climb ledge and large boulders straight up!  Without any doubts in my mind that Daren must have said Holy Mackerel due to his ancestral root – Scottish!    😉  We hiked for around 2 miles along with crossing the state line from Maine into New Hampshire (we are almost done with NH…..hardly WAIT!!!!)  until we arrived the side trail where we said our farewell to Daren going down that way.  The trail continued to be challenging – bogs, hand climbing, exposed tree roots, and wet slabs on top of hot and humidity weather.  We arrived at the shelter 10 hours and 30 minutes later – around 5:30 pm.  Whew!  The shelter gave us a nice view of the valley.  Awesome!

At 4th day of hiking, I began to notice how much the ongoing challenges of trail began to toll on Cane’s physical and well-being.  He began to suffer terrible heat rashes on his both hips and shoulders from his heavy backpack and aching knee from previous injury he sustained.  After lengthy discussion between Cane and myself, we agreed that I was to text Jeff, Pattie, John W., and Daren asking if they were available to assist us either on that day or next day.  That was something that we wanted to make sure if we absolutely needed the support system on the trail knowing that it was around 12 miles ahead – 12 LONG miles for Cane to finish out.  We came to the last side trail and I asked Cane if he felt the necessary to bail out and he said no and wanted to continue to finish out rest of the AT toward Rt. 2.  I did a quick evaluation of his health and well-being state and agreed with him that he was “hike-able”.  Originally, he wanted to hike out to Rt. 2, but he realized that he couldn’t do it and accepted that we will camp out at Trident Campsite – around 7 miles from Rt. 2.  We arrived at Trident Campsite by 3 pm and had time for Cane to get some rest and tended after his injuries.

On 5th day of hiking, Daren volunteered to assist us, so we got an early start to begin our hiking at 7:30 am for last 7 miles.  It was very hot and humid day.  I gave one of my mantras to Cane – “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!” and “Keep going and it will make you strong as a bull!”  I texted Daren saying that we may have a long day of hiking and Daren replied that we hoped that we will make it in time for 6 pm dinner to celebrate.  At that time, I wasn’t sure if he was being serious or joking.  Cane sluggishly climbed the Cascade Mountain both ways before coming to the brook around 3 hours and half later.  We were re-filling water and Daren showed up hiking around 4 miles from Rt. 2.  I was overwhelmed with joy and a bit tears in my eyes knowing that we have the support system helping to seeing Cane hiking out.  Daren brought another trail magic – at this time from Molly – banana walnut brownie along with the message on the brown paper, “I believe in you!  YOU CAN DO IT!”.  Wow, what a wonderful treat with inspiring message.  We took some weight off from Cane’s backpack by transferring most of Cane’s gears to Daren’s backpack.  We began our hiking and saw how much Cane was struggling with his hiking – he was pretty exhausted with 5th day of hiking on challenging trail without a long period of rest.  He climbed to top of Mt. Hayes in late afternoon and had hard time coming down a long descent – most of trail consisted many rocks and exposed tree roots for him to hike over.  He fell down many times along the way on top of being exhausted and frustrated.  For around last 2.5 miles, Daren encountered 3 hikers that he met in the 100-Mile Wilderness.  What an amazing coincidence!  After the hikers leaving us, Cane’s ability to hike deteriorated rapidly to the point where he fell down on frequent basis.  At point of Cane’s nasty fall, Daren and I decided that Daren should hike out to drop off his backpack and hike back to assist Cane hiking out.  Daren left us and I made a decision which I accepted with full responsibility of my own – commenced my “insulting machine” with Cane.  I told him like oh, do you want Daren to carry you out?, If you say you are weak, then you are weak!, You have to finish AT or just sit down and not finish AT!, and etc. etc.  It got him standing up and hiking (more like chasing after me!!!) for some time before he fell down.  His eyes were “brightened up” just like “blue-eyed demon on the run”!!!!!  I can clearly see his raging and strong desire to continue before his body defeated him a few minutes later.  Wow……I had to give him some space to get some rest and started up hiking again despite the attack of bugs on me from time to time.  It has been going on for who knows – perhaps 45 minutes.  I began to realize how close we were to the trail head and saw Daren beginning to hike to meet us.  His face was priceless – shocked and surprised to see us hiking out under our power especially CANE!!!!!  I sheepishly said….well, it was one of my doings and will tell you about it later on.  (On the same night, Cane and I had the discussion if he wished me not to employ my “insulting machine” on him ever again.  He said it helped him tremendously for being so raging angry with me – not taken personal or being offended by that – and able to continue hiking with whatever left what he has in him.)   We didn’t finish out last 0.5 mile, but we quickly decided that we can do that next day, anyway.  We got a ride in Daren’s and Priscilla’s car to get my car.  We finally realized that we do have 6 pm dinner to join.  We went to Bethel Outdoor Adventure – around 30 minutes of driving from Gorham.  We got showered and dressed up for dinner.  When we arrived and saw many people gathering, Jeff wrote to Cane, “This is for YOU!!!!!”  We were flabbergasted and shocked that these people from RV and Bethel Outdoor Adventure taking time to make potluck dinner and celebrating our completion of Mahoosuc Range section between Mahoosuc Notch Trail and Rt. 2 in Gorham.  We wolfed down the delicious food – cleaning out the full plate TWICE and gulping down the bottle of Raspberry Iced Tea, Pina Colada Polar, and Water!!!!!!!!  We were deeply touched by presence of these people even though we missed out what Jeff has to say about us, but knew in our heart that Jeff said how much we meant and inspired to him and others through our perseverance and determination and not allowing our disability stand in our way.  We enjoyed the company with these folks and headed over to the inn across the road to get a well-deserved good night’s sleep in air-conditioned and bug-free room with a HUGE smile on our face knowing we accomplished a big time, not only for ourselves, but with Bethel Outdoor Adventure community behind us!

The next day, Monday 15-July, John W. decided it was time for him to go home.  We met up in Gorham to chat for a while.  Cane asked him if it was ok for him to give us a ride to the trail head where we left off with remaining 0.5 miles toward Rt. 2 in Gorham to conclude our Mahoosuc Range section in honest and “purist” (Jeff calls us that) way.  John was happy to do that for us.  We thanked him for being part of our AT journey/experience for past two weeks and would love to see him at the base of Mt. Katahdin before we start to climb.  After walking the way of 0.5 mile,  YEAH , WE NOW CAN SAY THAT WE ARE OFFICIALLY DONE/CONQUERED WITH NH which has been eluded us since last year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Maine is the last and 14th state for us to conclude our AT journey!!!!!  YAY!  Katahdin is getting closer and closer……we calculated and found out that we have 163.3 miles left to GOOOOOOOOO!  Woo hoo!  😎

We are back in Augusta after hiking from Caratunk, ME to at edge of Bigelow Preserve around 18 miles before Stratton, Maine.  After chatting with some hikers, Cane and I decided to hold off “215 miles” section between Glencliff, New Hampshire and Bigelow Preserve to next summer with better weather and trail condition. Right now, the trail is perpetually wet and muddy making it more difficult to hike and climb after passing of occasional showers.  “215 miles” section requires some technical climbing, climbing on some steep trail, and tremendous amount of time and effort to get through huge boulders (two hikers said that it took them 2.5 hours to get around, under and over the huge boulder field in length of one mile!  It is in Mahoosuc Notch area).  We are now working on how to get to New Hampshire from Augusta, Maine.  Hopefully, we will be able to resume our hiking soon!

September 2020
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Appalachian Trail

Map of entire Appalachian Trail - 2,179 miles/3,507 km - through 14 states - Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine

Map of entire Appalachian Trail - 2,179 miles/3,507 km

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