Adventure of a Lifetime
I have been thinking of you, but have been watching too many movies! Bill signed up for NetFlix, so we have been watching all the movies we ever wanted to see, and more! We went on a 5-day trip to Boston in mid July, taking in culture and seeing friends, and stopping at museums in Maine each way as well. Then we took friends and our grand laker canoe on a trip to Moosehead Lake, reportedly the largest lake east of the Mississippi enclosed entirely in one state, and climbed Mt. Kineo there -- gorgeous vistas all along the Indian Trail and 360 degrees from the fire tower on the top. And, our older son Wright from Vermont has been visiting all this week, so it has been busy!!
But I had the adventure of a lifetime 2 days ago. Son Wright and I and a few of his friends (a man 10 years younger than I, his 14-year-old son, and two 13-year-old female fraternal twin cousins of the 14-year-old) climbed Mt. Katahdin, which, at 5,267 feet is not quite the highest, but is the most challenging mountain in New England! It is the terminus of the Appalachian Trail. And of course, we did not take the easiest trail to the top, or down! We even did the famous Knife Edge!! See attached pictures.
We walked across what you see in Knife Edge -- it's about 1.3 miles but takes 2+ hours. Knife Edge Narrow Passage shows a close-up of the terrain where one is practically hanging off the edge with a drop of almost a mile -- the blue paint marks the trail. We took the Cathedral Trail to the top, leaving Chimney Pond below (see picture), after having already climbed 2-1/2 hours over a "boney" trail to get to Chimney Pond. The Cathedral and the Knife Edge meant often climbing over boulders the size of a small house, and finding crevices for hand holds to either pull oneself up or lower oneself down! We were out there for 11-1/2 hours, starting the climb at 6:30AM (getting out of bed at 2:45AM, leaving the house at 3:30AM to get to the Baxter State Park entrance by 5:30AM -- once the parking lot fills up, one can't get in). The parking lot was half full when we got there -- it's amazing how many people want to torture themselves!! My leg muscles are very sore. UGH!! But the VIEWS are GLORIOUS, and this is the reward. By the way, three years ago, when I was MUCH younger, we climbed up the Abol Trail, again, big boulders, but it was misting the whole way and after spending 5 hours getting to the plateau, 300 yards from the top, we could not see even 20 feet in front of us and the temperature had dropped to about 34 degrees, just barely keeping the mist from turning to ice! Can you believe that some people actually do this climb in the winter, ice climbing -- YIKES!!
I called this the Adventure of a Lifetime because now that I have had the challenge, met it, and savored the reward of spectacular views, I am unlikely to repeat this one, or at least not on these harder trails, and certainly not the Knife Edge. A little secret to the success of this day -- my sweet son carried the packs with all of the water, food and extra clothes for both of us -- he is a truly super guy!!
Hope this finds you well, enjoying the summer and pondering on your armchair visit to Katahdin, the greatest mountain in New England!