My Old Friend: Retracing My Footsteps on the Appalachian Trail

My wife and I are in Maine enjoying a short vacation in the small town of Bethel.

We decided to do a short hike on Table Rock Loop in Grafton Notch State Park. It is just a 2.4-mile loop but with a steep elevation gain of almost 2000 feet in 1.2 miles.

I’ve been on a section of this trail before. The trail head begins on the northbound section of the Appalachian Trail, or AT, as it passes through Grafton Notch on its way to Mt. Katahdin.

This section is the beginning of the Mahoosuc mountain range and the much dreaded Mahoosuc Notch part of the AT (look it up, I enjoyed it some do not.)

Seeing the familiar white blazes of the AT brought back memories of one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Hiking the AT leaves an indelible mark.

The weather here was in the high 40’s with strong winds. Soon the mountain reminded us of just how fast things could change. One moment the sun was shining, the next we were hiking in snow showers.

Mid-May, it was snowing, and we were hiking. On purpose no less.

As we climbed to the 2900-foot elevation ridgeline, the trail turned icy. All along the way we saw frozen chunks of ice and snow shadowed by the many rock crevices and trees.

The last section was a bit of a rock scramble. Hands grasping at rocks and roots to lift yourself over the boulders and continue to climb.

Then, the edge of the clearing came into view.

With a few more steps, we were there. Standing on a glacier-carved shoulder of the mountain overlooking Mt. Speck and the notch.

It is why we do these things. To stand where you must push yourself to see these sights. Your own effort takes you there and nothing else. If you want to see it you have to walk there.

It was nice seeing my old friend the AT. It stirs memories of similar emotions like one’s first car, first love, or first look at a newborn child.

For those who have never hiked the AT, it is impossible for me to explain it to you or for you to understand.

For those of us who have hiked the AT, it’s impossible to forget.

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