We woke up early and started packing quickly. As is often the case when cowboy camping, daylight often reveals you’re closer to the trail than you think you are. We were ready to go by 7:10am. We hiked strong, as if in spite of last night’s mutual rants.
We climbed hard and fast – the terrain was still pretty steep. We topped the Mahoosuc Arm at 8:15 and summited Old Speck by 9:00. We had already hiked nearly four miles.
We attacked the 2,500 foot descent towards Grafton Notch – the AT Guide promised trash cans and privies. We reached Grafton Notch at 11:30 and ate a big lunch. The weather was great and we were cruising. A little after noon, we resumed hiking.
On our way up Baldpate Mountain, we met a couple of day hikers – Greyhound actually struck up the conversation. We told them of our plans to hitch into Andover, ME and camp behind the town diner. While they were familiar with hikers being allowed to do this, they cautioned us against relying on a hitch from East B Hill Road. Apparently, it was a little-used, private-access, gravel road eight miles away from.
This was disheartening. We both really needed a mini-resupply quite bad. But we really had no option – I’d walk to town if I had to. After a few minutes, the couple gave us their number. They lived close to the trailhead and would be happy to give us a ride – good job Greyhound!
We continued our ascent of Baldpate reaching the west peak at 3:00pm. We were treated to some extraordinary views.
We stormed down Baldpate, bypassing the Fry Notch Lean-to and cruising towards the road. About a mile before we reached East B Hill Road, my back thing flared up again. I had to strip down, right in the middle of the AT, and throw on the only clean thing I had left – my baselayer. I was miserable.
We passed two pretty waterfalls and followed a stream towards the trailhead.
But I had cell service – I called the couple Greyhound met and we soon found ourselves on the way to town. They dropped us off at the town market, basically a glorified convenience store – but it had everything we needed. Greyhound bought a “crab roll” (it was gross) but quickly redeemed herself by eating two ice creams.
We met a few hikers staying at a hostel a few blocks away. We briefly considered joining them but figured, what’s the point in paying for a bunk this late at night? We gathered up our purchases and headed across the street to the field behind the Red Hen, the town diner. We set up in the dark and quickly went to sleep. I remember a light rain falling.