Saturday morning we got moving pretty early, already mostly dried off from the day before. The trail today wound its way up to Lightning Ledge and Baldpate East Peak, where it connected with the Appalachian Trail for a ways. Before hitting the AT, the trail was a little soggy but otherwise beautiful and in perfect condition. With the sun shining through the trees we were able to enjoy the thick spruce-fir forests, expansive moss undergrowth, and some of the most impressive rock-work I’ve seen. The first few miles of the day followed a gorgeous stream, crossing and re-crossing above and below several cascades gushing with yesterday’s rainfall.
As we approached Baldpate we could see that the summit was just barely in the clouds. Lightning Ledge, significantly lower in elevation, had unobstructed views across the notch and to the south, but the humidity made for a dense haze in the distance. On top of Baldpate, we waited and had a second breakfast while waiting for the clouds to break. After over half an hour, we started across to West Peak, and the clouds broke as soon as we descended from the first peak.
From here we stayed on the AT down to Grafton Notch and up to Old Speck. We ran into dozens of day-hikers and a few backpackers, all enjoying the sun and heat, as rare as it’s been this summer. The people we saw on the AT section of this hike were the only people we saw during the entire weekend. Part of the beauty of the GLT is how few people seem to hike it. It feels amazingly wild.
On the way down to the Notch, we saw some evidence of the major trail-building project I’ve hear the Maine Appalachian Trail Club is working on to replace the heavily eroded and very steep section north of the Baldpate Lean-to, but I couldn’t see how close it was to being finished. I understand it’s going to be a pretty huge staircase, and I can’t wait to see what it looks like.
On top of Old Speck (the trail up is another beautiful section, although it seems to go on forever) we got some fantastic views of the Mahoosucs from the firetower. I can’t identify much in the area, but I could see where the Mahoosuc Notch cut between Fulling Mill and Mahoosuc Arm mountains. It’s not hard to see that the trail on either side is one of the steepest sections of trail you’ll find in the state.
From Old Speck to the Slide Mountain campsite, the GLT meanders along contours and avoids the steep stuff that is so common in Maine and New Hampshire. There’s not much excitement here, but there is plenty of scenery. The woods were surprisingly open aside from the dense undergrowth of ferns. The forest here looks almost artificial, since the usual for these areas is tightly packed trees and tangled undergrowth.
We arrived at Slide Mountain campsite, another fine set of tent areas with a main eating/cooking spot, a bear box for food, and a nice new moldering privy. We were asleep before it even got completely dark out.