September, 2011 Archives

It’s Official

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Climbing Katahdin

When you get to the end you expect the mountain Katahdin to be a simple punctuation mark on a long and sometimes painful journey. Once you start up you realize quickly that the climb up is going to be maybe the toughest climb on the entire trail. You start up from a nice comfortable riverfront campsite at the base and enjoy a leisurely but steadily ascending but once you start seriously climbing you realize that you are going to be in for a grueling day. The climb up incorporates elements from many other mountains we encountered along the trail. You can basically put your hiking poles away because your hike begins with a steep hands-on climb up with intermittent boulders lining the way toward what has been described by Spit Walker as a vertical Mahoosuc Notch which basically means that you take perhaps the most technically demanding mile along the AT. As you climb hand over foot up the face of huge boulders you realize you are hanging onto a huge rock for dear life as you look over your shoulder at the steep dropoff into the valley below.

I can not describe the feeling that came over me as I realized I would be taking my final steps. The Katahdin sign represents the culmination of a long, arduous journey that has been quite a drain at times. The relief that I can walk on my own for a while without the aid of white blazes gives me a sense of freedom believe it or not even though I will miss every single aspect of what the trail has to offer.

To make matters a little more perilous I was goaded into heading back down the mountain over the other side on a narrow, jutting, and mounding series of smaller peaks that are known as the Knife Edge. The name alone represents just how dicey the descent can be but since I came up one way (Hunt trail) I figured it would not be a wise idea to start backtracking miles now so I went up and over the peak and down the very ridge that conjured up the very intimidating name.

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Getting into Baxter

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Out of the wilderness

Closed out the 100 mile wilderness and was greeted with a staggering view of Katahdin as I crossed the Abol Bridge. You kind of wind up at some fantasy land campground surrounded by rivers and standing in the shadows of this humongous mountain.

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More to come

Out of the wilderness

Last Day in the Wilderness

By this point the mood amongst every hiker around is positively euphoric. Everyone can taste the end and it is a great feeling. Started off the morning in a steady drizzle which was carried over from late night/ early morning. Wet weather doesn’t seem to have the same impact this late in the hike since it will only be a few days until we can pack up our gear for good.

I encountered a group of guys at Nahmakanta Lake who invited me over for a drink. Before long I had seen about a dozen hikers pass through and I had been willingly held up for the better part of the day. After getting my fill of what they were offering (from deer sausage to ritz crackers) I struggled my way from their campsite and back into the woods. Hiked a little bit into the night to make up for my stalled day which is not my favorite thing to do however with the lack of wildlife there is one less element to fear along these walks. I was squishing through the bogs and since my shoes are getting tossed at the conclusion of this trip I had much less concern over their welfare. Worries all around seem to melt away in tandem with the conclusion of this adventure. Made it to Rainbow Spring Campsite where I must have heard every possible sound that the loon makes. The next morning I was treated to a beautiful spring feeding directly into Rainbow Lake.

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Final day in the wilderness

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3 Days Out

By this point the terrain is easy and the mood amongst thru hikers at this stage in the game is downright giddy. Today (9/23) shot back onto the warm side. Got in the 70’s today and tomorrow 80 degree temps are expected. Saw two signs for ‘Sand Beach’ which propelled me into the accompanying lakes both times. It was a good thing for me that both were lakes as I am not fully trusting ponds nowadays ever since Aces pulled a leach off of herself when we were in the boat at Chairback.

Got my first glimpse of Katahdin from Pemadumcook Lake. It is awe-inspiring the way it sits unrivaled on the otherwise flat landscape. It reminds me a lot of Mount Daisen in Japan in how it just dominates its surroundings. Pushed over 20 miles today leaving only 44 to go.

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3 days out

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