This post comes to you from Maine and we are happy to have internet access on this day. We welcome our new friends to this website, those of you we have met since we landed in Bangor to continue hiking the Appalachian Trail.
From Bangor, Chief and I took a bus north to Medway and then were picked up and shuttled to the town of Millinocket. We were happy to learn that Walkie Talkie Nightingale, a young lady we had met and with whom we had hiked in Virginia, was also flipping to Maine to hike the remainder of the A.T. SOBO (southbound). Walkie arrived in Millinocket a day later and the three of us were scheduled to climb Mount Katahdin on July 28th.
Katahdin is the highest elevation in Maine at 5,270′ and is the northern terminus of the A.T. We were dropped at the ranger station at Baxter State Park at 8:00 a.m. to register (just in case we didn’t return they would have our correct names for the obituary). The hike to the summit was just over five miles and I foolishly thought, “This can’t take long, right?”
What started as a pleasant hike along peaceful streams and through the beautiful pine woods, quickly became more labored with climbing large granite boulders hand over hand. Higher and higher we climbed, eventually over the treeline with other mountains coming into view. Many of the rocks were so high or far apart that metal rungs had been inserted to assist. It was evident that this climb would be the most challenging portion of the A.T. that we had experienced so far. Walkie Talkie had some wilderness training so she and Chief were helpful in suggesting climbing positions and techniques. Sometimes they had to give me a boost to get over the large sharp rocks. The climb was incredibly arduous and time-consuming, taking nearly five and a half hours just to reach the summit.
At the top of the formidable mountain is an infamous sign by which hikers want a photo. We took the symbolic photos and then Chief and I placed rocks on a large mountain top cairn. We witnessed a reunion of four men who had thru-hiked the A.T. twenty years earlier. We also met other folks who had come up a side trail that is just over two miles and less strenuous access to the summit. Of course I am thinking we should just go down that way, but noooo, Chief said we had to go back the official Appalachian Trail. Already exhausted, our descent took another five hours.
With Mount Katahdin under our belts, Walkie Talkie, Chief and I camped at the Stream Campground, dropping into our sleeping bags, too tired to think about the next day’s hike into Maine’s 100 Mile Wilderness and totally unaware of what was yet to come…
Stay Tuned, Chief and Toad