After a nero and zero in Gorham at a good hostel, we needed to get back on the trail. To get back up to Mt Washington via car would be a challenge, because it costs money to drive up. The hostel was on the trail, but ahead of where we got off. We decided it would make the most sense to hike south from the hostel in Gorham back to Mt Wash (how many thru hikers summit Mt Washington twice?), then hitch down the mountain back to Gorham.
Hiking south was kind of fun! We got to see several hikers we were ahead of that we hadn't seen in a while, including Lady Forward, who had Beau's glasses. We also got to climb up Mt Madison, which is far better than going down. We spent a couple days going southbound and had fun stopping at the huts to eat their leftover breakfast and soup. We had no problem getting a ride back down the mountain and were soon on our merry way north again.
Southern Maine is super tough. I think it's harder than the Whites. I'm not sure who in the AMC (the trail club that manages the Whites and S. Maine) likes putting the trail on steep slabs of rock, but they need to get a reality check. The Mahoosuc Notch is labeled the "most difficult or fun" mile on the AT. It's like a jungle gym of boulders and took us two and a half hours. That day it took us 12 hours to travel 12 miles.
Once the trail crossed over into the next trail club's territory, there was a distinct change in trail quality. We had stone stairs again! And rebar! And ladders! I've never been happier to ascend 1300 feet in .8 miles, just because it wasn't rock scrambling. We were moving quicker than expected and got to Andover a day earlier than planned. We arrived at the hostel just as dinner was being served... Perfect! We stayed up way too late way watching the Olympics and are lounging this morning until we hike a half day out.