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July 29 2023, Baldpate Lean-to to Full Goose Shelter:
Today was a very cloudy day, just what I needed to not feel so suffocated by the heat. I felt extremely energized and motivated to climb and burn through some energy. Even upon getting to the road, I had zero desire to road walk or hitch.
Around noon, I arrived to the beginning of Mahoosuc Notch. A couple of NOBO hikers walked by, coming out of it with their legs covered in blood and out of breath. They didn’t seem like they wanted to talk much.
All they said was, “Good luck.”
It can’t be that bad, I thought to myself.
Seconds later, I saw the large rocks and boulders, slick and covered in moss, with sheer cliffs on both sides of the canyon. I kept telling myself it might not be that bad, but then as I started the ascent, the obstacles would get significantly more challenging.
I kept thinking to myself, This can’t be the trail. There’s no way. No psychopath would make this the actual trail.
All to, lo and behold, see a white blaze underneath some boulders, confirming, yes, I had to squeeze under and through a tight hole between some boulders with the possibility of being crushed if they decided to fall at that moment. I didn’t think I had ever used the word ‘fuck’ so many times in the matter of an hour.
I had to get down on my knees and crawl numerous times, then use my entire body to maneuver my way through that section, basically rock climbing and boulder hopping my way through. Some parts even required to take my pack off and slide my bag across to the other side. Type two fun for sure. But, throughout all the ‘fucks’ I yelled and all the grunts I made, I was still having a kick ass time. I also realized I had it really good since it had been sunny for quite some time so there wasn’t slippery ice on the rocks that most people had to experience, making it significantly more difficult.
Along the notch, I drank some water that I discovered between the crevices of the rocks—best water I had drank on the AT thus far. It was ice cold and refreshing, I didn’t even feel called to filter it.
When I made it to Full Goose Shelter, I found it hysterical how tired all the AT hikers looked. Everyone just looked completely annihilated.
I joked, “It’s funny how we choose to do this.”
One of the hikers goes, “Yeah, I was just thinking about how this is a voluntary thing and how we can quit anytime.”
We all started laughing and I felt grateful for that bubbly feeling. It felt really wholesome to be with my community and share the perception of pain and misery. Just that shared acknowledgment of what we were all feeling inspired me to keep hiking as I remembered I wasn’t the only one feeling that way. I wasn’t the only one whose mileage had dropped in the Whites; the section was truly tough.
I filtered my water as I watched a man comb out his dog. It was only around 3pm and I still had energy to push on a few more miles and make it up one more hill, however one of the ladies informed me that it was going to start raining heavily in about an hour. I looked up at the sky and had a hard time seeing that happening since it was pretty sunny at the time. Still, I felt into what felt lighter to me and the guidance was to stay.
The wind picked up shortly after and the clouds rolled in. Exactly an hour had passed before it started pouring rain so hard that the ground couldn’t even soak up the water after a few minutes. We all laid on the hardwood floor of the shelter, watching as the droplets of rain pitter pattered in scattered puddles, quickly forming a little lake beside our dwelling place. Slowly, more and more hikers would show up and the shelter became packed to the brim.