August 17th 2018
Spek mountain – East B Hill road (mile 1934)
13.8 miles
Total miles: 1959.9

It was a cold night on top of the mountain. But I slept wonderfully. One of the few nights I’ve had to zip my sleeping bag all the way up, and I left my hat in my bag and was too lazy to get it out so I slept with my puffy over my head. I was in a little puffy cocoon. And I popped and Aleve PM. 


It’s difficult to get up when it’s this cold but the only way to warm up is to get moving. We set off just before 7am and the others literally ran down the mountain. I was left behind within about 30 seconds. I didn’t cry today. I felt stronger. Although I was a bit pissed off. What’s the need to go so quickly? 


There was a big downhill all the way to Grafton Notch and it got warmer with every step downhill. As it got warmer the bugs came back and there was the familiar sound of the mosquito buzzing around my ears. I hadn’t missed that sound for one moment. I caught up to Peaches as she was filtering water. I got a bit, filtered quickly and moved on. When we arrived at Grafton Notch there were some people with a cooler. Great! I was hoping there may be trail magic in the parking lot. 


The couple, Clooney and Bear Meat (and their dog Boston) has just finished their hike 2 weeks ago and they were here to do the Baldpates again as they had bad weather the first time around. I got a banana and a Gatorade. Hopefully that would power me up the next climb. 

They hiked on ahead of us and I struggled my way up the mountain. The first part of the climb wasn’t too bad. Not too steep. Not ridiculously rocky. I had to stop about half way to empty all the bits out of my socks. Now my socks were finally dry all the mud was falling of them and rattling around in my shoes. I put up with it for way longer than I should have as when I emptied them out my life was so much nicer. 

The second part of the climb, after a nice flat bit was like a giant staircase. They had created a wonderful bit of trail work and the rocks were arranged into stairs. I would like to say it made it quicker to get up the mountain but I was still really slow! When I got to the top of Baldpate West Peak I thought they might be waiting, but of course it made more sense to continue on and get to Baldpate East Peak. There was about a mile between the peaks with a bog to cross in the middle. 


The trail between them was open and exposed and we were lucky it was such a nice day. In fact I felt like I was getting burnt. It’s not often that we are above the trees long enough for the sun to feel like it’s burning. The way down was granite rock and then into the trees for a bit before crossing the bog. I tightrope walked my way across some strategically placed logs, almost lost my balance and was very glad I didn’t when my trekking pole went into the bog nearly all the way. The bog is deep! 

The way up the other side was just a giant slab of rock. Totally exposed and very steep but because it was dry it was quite grippy. I would not want to do this in the rain. The way is marked by cairns and everyone was there when I got to the top. Peaches had basically run up and had been there for about half an hour! And Jukebox had arrived about 5 minutes before me. We sat up there a while and had some snacks and chatted to Clooney and Bear Meat. 


We were aiming to get to the road for when the shuttle arrived at 3:15pm. We left at 11:45 with 6.3 miles to go. It was all dependent on the terrain and we weren’t sure what was ahead of us. Even the downhill can really slow you down sometimes. The first bit was across more slab rock and if moving with confidence you can go quite quickly. If moving with a bit of trepidation you don’t go quite as fast. The others moved with confidence and I moved with trepidation. I kept up for about 5 minutes and then lost sight of them. 


There were some really steep parts where ladders had been build and ropes were secured, again, the thought of doing this when it’s wet wasn’t at all appealing. After that steep part though the trail flattened out and became a lot less rocky so I was able to move quite fast. A couple of points I got up to 3.5 miles an hour. I was cruising. Until I hit an uphill which was short but steep. 500ft in 0.4 of a mile. The way up was more rock stairs and that helped as you didn’t have to spend time calculating where your foot was going to land. The uphill was hot and I was sweating more than I have done for a while. 

After that uphill it was plain sailing and I could maintain a pretty good pace. On the way down I was convincing myself that Peaches and Jukebox would get to the road way before me and they would hitch a ride without me. I was getting annoyed about it and it hadn’t even happened! 

Just before the road I caught up to Peaches who had just been for a dip in a nice looking swimming hole. Jukebox had just got to the road. I wasn’t that far behind. And we were all there at the road together. We got there at 2:30pm. Plenty of time to spare for the shuttle which we found out wasn’t coming until 3:50! That’s a long time to wait. We decided we would try to hitch while waiting for the shuttle. Very few cars on this road! 


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One car went by and didn’t stop. Another hiker came by and had the same plan as us. We waited for about half an hour and sat in the dirt eating whatever was left in our food bags. A second car came by and they stopped. 3 guys who had dropped off their friends onto the trail earlier this morning and were now scoping out places where they could meet them along the way. 

They had loads of stuff in their car, but luckily they had 3 rows of seats and they were able to move all their stuff around to make room for all of us. Us three girls squeezed into the back row with our packs on our knees. It was only 8 miles to Andover so we could be uncomfortable for that long. They gave us some snacks. It looked like a homemade granola bar. After I had eaten it I found out it was made with cricket flour. Ground up crickets. Gross! But actually they tasted nice. 


We were really lucky to get that ride and by 3:30pm we were in Andover. We went to the general store and I ate some ice cream. The others ordered some food but I didn’t for some unknown reason. I though we were going to go across the road to the diner but when we called the hostel they said pick up would be in half an hour so there wasn’t time. 

We had to resupply which was difficult with the limited stock but that’s all we had to work with. It was a bit pricier than a usual resupply but it’s a small town so that’s what you expect. The hostel we are staying in is really far out of town but it has good recommendations. It’s run by former thru hikers. 

Human Nature hostel is pretty cool. It a big pentagram shape with some really nice finishing touches on the bits that are finished. It seems that there is a bit of work to do around the place. No packs or shoes inside which we have found at a few other hostels and it seems to be the way to go. It definitely reduces that hiker funk. We had a tour and there are a couple of really nice common areas to hang out in. Upstairs are comfy sofas and a big kitchen to use. Downstairs there is a tv and loads of seats and a table. There were a bunch of people there watching beetle juice. 


The only disappointing thing was that they said there would be dinner but there wasn’t anything. It had already been cooked and eaten when we got there. We did manage to scavenge in the hiker boxes and found 2 cans of vegetable soup and a bag of rice. Jukebox cooked them up and we had soupy rice for dinner with was good and much better than nothing. At least I got myself a Mountain Dew baja blast from the shop. 

The showers were outside and I had one of the most wonderful showers on my life. I was so dirty and it felt so good to wash it all off. They had loaner clothes so I am lounging around in scrubs. They are so comfortable! We put our laundry into a big basket but when the time came to go to bed I remembered I hadn’t thrown my bandana in there and somehow my knickers were on my bed and not in the wash. Bugger! So I rinsed them out in the sink. Not ideal but it would have to do. 

Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 101