A low growl startled us awake. Milo’s hackles were high on his neck and we were both immediately awake. A cow moose was walking briskly ten feet in front of the shelter. Her legs so long, that at first her head was not visible due to the slant of the shelter roof. Garbelly held onto Milo, but he did not attempt to chase her apparently understanding that he was outmatched by seven to eight hundred pounds.
We climbed up to the top of Fulling Mill Mountain then proceeded down more rebar ladders towards the Mahoosuc Notch (Considered to be the longest mile of the AT). From the top, we could see where we came from and we can still see Mt. Washington. Just before reaching the Notch there were a few small campsites that we assumed were created from hikers too tired to enter the notch, or too tired from hiking the notch to make the steep climb up to Filling Mill Mountain.
Snow pockets in between the boulders. As soon as we entered the Notch, we were greeted by a large deposite of snow. Some parts were still ice, frozen to the rock. Others were a thin crust on top of soft snow, resulting in prime post hole spots.
We moved slowly but calculated. Staying close as to help make sure Milo went through the exact passage. There was only one way to go safely. We had to lift him up a couple times when there were large crevices down below. We navigated the boulder field of the notch slowly and carefully. At one point we split up looking for the best way through. Critter found the blazes but was met by a large slanted slab of ice and a giant boulder with a gap underneath. She stepped carefully on roughed up snow. But before she knew it, her feet slid out from under her shooting her perfecting underneath the boulder. Fortunately, her knees just missed the lip of granite. It was a sobering fall and let us know not to let our guard down for a second.
Half way through we met some previous thru hikers. Milo would not stop barking at them. We think he may have been extremely excited to actually see people and wanted to tell them what all he had been doing. One of the hikers had hiked the trail previously with his dog. We talked to them for a good while and then continued on.
A few spots along the notch, we had to take our packs off and crawl. This made the hiking go by very slowly, but we were having a blast. After probably close to two hours, we made it to the other side. This was definitely the longest it had ever taken us to hike a mile, but we had a blast doing it.
The next on our days list of difficult hikes would be the climb up the Mahoosuc Arm. This is supposedly the steepest climb on the entire trail. Slick granite slides made worse by the recent rainfall threatened our balance on every step. We stuck to the sides and pulled our way up using the nearby trees and roots. Milo went straight up the middle of the slick path and looked at us wondering why we were not doing the same.
Surprisingly, we made it up the Arm really quickly. At the top we were greeted with a view of Old Speck and one of our remaining climbs of the day. As we walked along wooden catwalks covering the alpine bogs below, we discussed taking lunch at the Speck Pond Shelter. Garbelly lapsed in his attention to walking the narrow boards. He quickly stepped off and a bog swallowed his leg.
We took a long lunch at Old Spec Shelter. There we met the caretaker named Peter. He told us about how they compost all of the campground waste, which we both found extremely interesting. After lunch we climbed up to the top of Old Speck and then proceeded the four miles down to the highway. For the first time, we met other AT thru hikers besides Tarzan. We walked with them for ten minutes or so and then stopped to filter water.
From the highway, we climbed another two miles up to the Baldpate Lean to. Here there were two groups of weekend hikers who were both extremely kind. However, one of the groups had set up their tent inside the shelter, so we made our way down trail and set up our tent. While Garbelly filtered water, the same overnighters were washing food off in the stream ten feet up stream from where Garbelly was getting water. He started to say something, but the man left.
After returning with water, we cooked dinner and got into bed a few moments after the sun had set and the sky turned completely black.