Most thru hikers camp in Baxter State Park the night before they summit Mt. Katahdin. However, that was still 10 miles away from me. If I made it to Katahdin Stream Campground by noon, I would be allowed to continue on up the mountain. I set my alarm for 4:00 AM with the plan to start hiking at 5:00. When the alarm went off, I was still so sleepy that I reset it for 5:00 and went back to sleep for an hour. When I woke up again, I was still tired and was starting to question my sanity or at least my plan to reach Katahdin in 5 days from the start of the 100 Mile Wilderness.
I decided to get up and start hiking. If I didn’t feel good after 10 miles, I would camp at Katahdin Stream Campground and summit the next day. Although I was 15 miles away from the summit, I had to allow time and energy for the 5.2 miles back down the mountain. As I walked I started feeling better.
I reached the ranger’s station at 10:15 and signed in to climb Katahdin. Most thru hikers slack pack (day pack) the climb and leave their big packs at the ranger’s station. I left my tent, sleeping bag, extra clothes, etc. but used my pack since it can be made very small. I started the climb up Katahdin at 10:35.
The first mile was pretty easy with a lot of waterfalls along the way. The second mile was a little more challenging with some rock climbing but still no harder than climbs I had done earlier in New Hampshire. However, mile 3 was very challenging. Maybe the most challenging mile yet. Thank you to my mom for asking God to place angels at my ankles, knees, and neck during my hike. Those angels worked overtime today.
The next 2.2 miles had a lot of rocks but no rock climbing. Arriving at the sign in Baxter Peak was an awesome feeling. I arrived at 2:30. There was a family there that had hiked up on another trail. They took pictures of me with the sign. They were discussing which trail to take back to the campground. Their young adult kids wanted to take Knife’s Edge. I decided to hike down the “easier” trail with the parents, Laura and Peter. There is no easy trail on Katahdin. It was easier than the AT (Hunt Trail) but still a lot of rock climbing.
It wasn’t until I was 2 miles down the mountain that I realized how big Baxter State Park is and that I had made a mistake choosing the “easier” trail. The ranger explained that I was going to be ~20 miles away from my stuff at Katahdin Stream Campground once I finished the next 3.3 miles on the trail to the parking lot. 1/2 a mile from the parking lot, I passed two men finishing up a 3 day backpacking trip. I decided to get up my courage and ask them for a ride to the entrance gate. Then I could hitch to the other campground in the park.
Gary and Mike were very nice and agreed to take me to the gate. By the time we reached the gate, they had offered to drive me all the way to Katahdin Stream Campground AND them to drive me to the hotel at the airport in Bangor. In a matter of minutes, I went from not knowing how I would get back to my stuff to having a ride to my stuff and the airport! It is truly amazing how often things work out on the trail. Oh, and they bought me dinner too. I have a 7AM flight tomorrow morning.
Time to be a SOBO! 🙂