Backpacking: Grafton Notch Loop Day 2

Day 2 Baldpate Shelter to Stewart Campsite Miles: 13.49 Time: 9:12:56

Woke up to a friendly hiker in the lean-to (aka Footprints – trail name). Said he rolled into camp at 8:30p and apologized if he woke us. Hah!! I was long into sleeping by then. He was a NoBo headed for Maine. Did he start earlier than the usual thru-hiker, or was he just super-fast? 

Packing up camp

Long (expletive) day on our feet with many ups and downs. We thought we were looking at hiking a decent 11 mile day…yeah, guess we misread the map (see subheading for total mileage). Perhaps we were not properly caffeinated.

8am and the day started out glorious, with the soft wooded ground beneath our feet. From the West Peak of Baldpate you could see the much larger East Peak looming in the foreground. A quaint boggy area broke up the distance between peaks and we climbed once again.

Heading toward Baldpate

For as early as it was and as we made the climb up the open slope of East Peak, the sun was beating down hard and the winds were gusting at what we estimated as 40 mph. The winds were so fierce that it blew me to the side a time or two. I ended up climbing this peak by way of “bear crawls” up wide open slab of rock. Kale and Chris (run coach and personal trainer, respectively) would have been so proud! Here’s a quick video demonstrating the bear crawl.

The East Peak summit is the junction that splits from the AT into the Grafton Loop. After a nice snack on the summit, we headed down, down, down then up, up, up to Lightning Ledge- spectacular view. Apparently, even the moose think so as there was scat pile near the outlook. Moose appreciate their views too…their own view from the privy. If you like a good privy, check out the sub-category where we share…you guessed it! Views from the privy.

Anyway, passing through the woods crossing multiple enchanting streams, we came to Town Corner Campsite. I had a snack and we contemplated whether we should stay or move on to Stewart Campsite. Given the swarms of black flies, we decided to press on.

On the descent of Long Mtn we saw pink tape marking “trail challenge” WTF kind of trail challenge happened here? We must look that up when we return to the world of the internet. Update: internet search did not reveal any organized race.

The hike up Long Mtn was pleasant, as was the straight bee-line trail to the start of the last climb of the day. Then shit started to go downhill for me. I felt a strange sensation in my lower stomach. We thought we were close to camp so I didn’t refill on water at the last stream crossing. Was I dehydrated? Were my organs angry with me and starting to shut down? What was going on?

This very well may have been where my grumpiness began

There were two times during the climb to camp that I wanted to lie in the middle of the trail and cry. John asked if I wanted to leave my pack and come back for it after we found camp. I declined, with the hope that we were close and also knowing I did not want to have to hike it twice -pack or no pack!

It was a slow and painful ascent, at some point when I looked up to see John coming back down, I thought “we’re doomed”. He wanted to check the map, thinking we missed the turn for camp. We consulted the map, my Garmin and iHikeGPS and determined we had to be close and if not, we were going to camp near the next water source and beg for landowner forgiveness (this section is privately owned, the owner graciously allows hikers to pass thru).

It was at this time that I questioned my ability to complete the ultra run that I’m training for…what am I doing?! Luckily it wasn’t much farther, but the water source was bone dry. As I was walking around searching for another source, a disheveled man (Jack) came bounding into the campsite. His group had a rough day, like us, but on the other side of the loop. He trudged ahead of the other two in his group to set camp and get water.

We chatted for a few moments before he was off in search of water. He recalled hearing a stream a little ways back on the trail and was successful in finding a good spot to filter. Thank goodness! Soon it was our turn to get water, and just as we were about to go down the embankment to the stream, his friends came plodding down the trail. I waited for them to get near, to let them know they were close. At first they didn’t believe me. I swore that it was just around the corner and the red-head (Kyle) blurted “oh my god, I could literally kiss you right now”! I laughed, knowing that John was just down the embankment filtering water. What he must have been thinking!! Ha ha.

JOHN: Having overheard Kyle’s exclamation of relief I had thoughts of what to yell up but the battle with the black flies and skeeters kept me busy. Nothing quite like the hordes of buzzing blood suckers from the Maine Air Force to keep you at task. 

Anyway, back at camp with water and food in our bellies. We hung our food bag and hit the hay at 9pm hoping for better days ahead. Oh and took a few ibuprofen to help 😉

Sections are so steep that iron rung ladders need to be drilled into the rock


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