Mount Katahdin is located in Baxter State Park, about 100 miles north of Bangor, Maine. The Park covers more than 200,000 acres. Katahdin is the highest mountain in Maine, at 5,268 feet. Katahdin is the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail (AT). See Mt Katahdin map here (see AbolTrailhead .pdf to view Katahdin Stream Campground and the Hunt Trail to Baxter Peak -aka Katahdin peak).
My wife and I had some nice travel plans for the summer of 2014. I’d planned to solo-hike a section of the AT in New Hampshire and then meet my wife Judy, for a week in Acadia National Park, up in Maine. After Acadia, she would fly home and I’d go up north a hundred miles or so (from Bangor) and climb Mount Katahdin.
My plan was to hike the AT from Franconia Notch north to Crawford Notch, through the Presidential Range to Pinkham Notch, all in the White Mountains of New Hampshire -approximately 55 miles.
I was carrying about 60 # in my backpack including four liters of water. It was hot and humid, and the hike was steep and tough -lots of bouders and rocks along the trail. Alas, I injured my knee, and after a few days I decided to abort the AT portion of the trip. I thought it best to get out while I could under my own power since I was hiking solo. [This is a good example of why people always tell you not to hike solo. I usually hike in a group, but if they can’t make it, I’ll often go it alone.] Anyway, I hiked down to catch a shuttle back to my vehicle, about a four or five hour ordeal. I’d never experienced any problems with my knees in the past, so this was very frustrating and disappointing to say the least.
Judy’s airline reservation, and our lodging reservation in Bar Harbor were still a few weeks out yet, as was my camping reservation in Baxter State Park, near the Katahdin trailhead. I called my daughter in Washington, D.C. to see if I could drive down and visit over Labor Day weekend. She said they would be in town, and they had room for me, so I decided to head south and visit our nation’s capitol. I could visit my daughter, rest the knee a bit, and also hike around and see the sights in Washington. Thus, while I missed out on my AT adventure, the rest of the trip was salvaged!
After spending five days in Washington, I determined my knee was ‘healed,’ and it was time to get back on the road. I headed back north toward Maine.
I made a camping reservation for three nights in Baxter State Park that would cover me until my reservation at Katahdin Stream Campground opened up. I ended up camping on the north side of Mount Katahdin, at South Branch Pond Campground, which was about an hours drive from the Katahdin Stream Campground. I took the Hunt Trail to the peak. The Abol Trail is steeper and entails crossing a lot of scree fields.
I drove north from Bangor, through Milllinocket to enter Baxter State Park. I’d recommend a couple of maps: 1) Main Mountains Trail Map w/ ‘Baxter State Park -Katahdin’ on one side and the ‘100-Mile Wilderness on reverse side, available from Appalachian Mountain Cub – ISBN 978-1-934028-57-5. 2) Baxter State Park, Mount Katahdin and Katahdin Iron Works, Trail/Topo Map by National Geographic.
Arriving at South Branch Pond Campground, I set up camp immediately since it was overcast with light showers. It had been a lot of driving and I planned to hit the sack early.
My knee feels good. Time to pack up and move to Katahdin Stream Campground on the south side of the mountain. I just hope the weather is good; there’s a lot of rock to climb!
I planned an early start in the morning, just after sunrise. I’d hike the Hunt Trail up to the peak. Carrying a light daypack with raingear, warm jacket, hat and gloves, first aid kit, water filter, headlamp w/ extra batteries, energy bars, three liters of water, bear spray, pocket knife, map and compass, and my hiking poles. Lets do this!
My main concern when I began the hike, was getting back down before dark. It was not a problem at all. I was slower climbing up, and I seemed to almost fly over some sections on the way down. I was back a few hours before dark, and had plenty of time to cook a nice dehydrated meal. I even had a small fire, sipped some brandy and enjoyed a small Cohiba, as I thought about the hike, the climb and the stairway down. What a day! One of those days I’ll never forget!
And for you amateur radio operators, I’ll bet you could make some very good hf contacts from the top of Katahdin. If I ever return, I’ll be sure to have my 817ND and a couple long wires. I’m sure it would be amazing!
73 de Mike, KEØGZT