After Teton spent 52 days paddling on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, Moose picked him up in Fort Kent, Maine. The plans had been arranged to drive down to Baxter State Park to meet friends, Twirls, Fin, and Alpine for our annual hike of Mount Katahdin. Don't worry, 2 months of paddling, portaging and carrying a kayak full of gear through rocky rivers and streams wasn't enough to tire out Teton. He was ready to tackle Maine's greatest mountain for a third time.
We planned our trip over Columbus Day Weekend. This was most convenient, as 2/5 of us are teachers, and Teton's timeline for finishing his previous adventure would line up perfectly. Of course, campsites in the park were booked full months before we made our plans! Familiar with the New England Outdoor Center's facilities from last year, we chose a cozy campground right outside of Millinocket and a few miles away from the entrance of Baxter State Park. After meeting up with our friends in the town of Millinocket, and experiencing serious nostalgia at the Appalachian Trail Cafe, we all headed to camp to set up and catch up.
Our group did not have a parking spot reserved in the park, which meant we had to be one of the first in line at the gates to secure access. We succeeded at an early 4:30 AM start, and stumbled into the car to race to the starting line. Thankfully, there were only two cars in front of us. We cooked our breakfast on the gravel outside the car while waiting for the gates to open at 6. After breezing through the ranger station, we parked at one of the first-come-first-served spots in the Roaring Brook parking lot. Relieved that we secured a spot, we put on our packs and headed down the familiar trail to Chimney Pond.
After 3.3 miles on the Chimney Pond Trail, we met the ranger at the ranger station. She asked us the usual questions, gave us a weather update, and sent us on our way. The weather was cooperating and we felt safe taking the 1.4 mile Cathedral Trail up to eventually meet up with the Saddle. This steep and boulder covered trail was fun to navigate, and in no time at all we hopped on the Saddle for .2 mile jaunt to reach the famous Katahdin sign.
On the exact anniversary of our engagement, we had a clear 360° degree view at the top of Katahdin for the first time out of our 3 total trips to Baxter Peak. Standing at the top of Maine, with beauty all around, in a place that has such personal significance to us, was magical and euphoric.
We took our turn posing for pictures at the sign, shared a few "I'll take yours if you take ours" with the fellow hikers, and got out of the crowd to take another stab at the infamous Knife Edge.
We cautiously made our way across this precarious ridge. Our last visit along the Knife Edge was freezing, icy, and terribly windy. With mostly clear skies and dry ground, this time, we were able to appreciate the views while navigating over the pointy rocks and hills of this thin ridge line.
We shared stories, joked and reminisced about previous traverses of this trail and others we've traveled together. Before we knew it, we were descending the steep cliffside to begin our way up Katahdin's neighbor peak, Pamola.
Another memorable peak for this group, we took a break to have a snack and to enjoy the view.
3.2 miles down the Helon Taylor Trail is always longer than expected, but nonetheless absolutely beautiful. It is bittersweet to descend these peaks that we wait all year to visit again!
After snapping the traditional picture in front of the Ranger Station at Roaring Brook, we hopped in the car to go back to the campsite to celebrate with too many beers, too much camp fire food, and a well deserved snooze under the stars.
We arrived back at our campsite just in time to view the colorful sunset behind Mount Katahdin to send us off after another perfect weekend with the perfect adventure fam! See you next year, Katahdin!
Wondering why the title of this post reads 'Ktaadn' instead of 'Katahdin?' Henry David Thoreau utilizes this phonetic spelling in his 1846 account of the mountain simply titled Ktaadn, the first chapter in his book, The Maine Woods.