Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Trail Report: Katahdin

July 11, 2013

Back in January we started planning our Katahdin trip.  Katahdin is located in Baxter State Park, Maine which is a 6 hour drive North of Boston.  You have to plan early as they only allow so many people into the park each day, tent and lean-to sites start to fill up months in advance.  We couldn't book our sites in Jan but we started to put the word out to friends and family that the trip was a go for July 10-13, 2013.

The crew: Gary, Ginny, Damien, Tony, Sarah, Kely and myself.
Hiking crew: Gary, Damien, Tony, Kely and myself

The drive up was long, but we did stop for a sit down lunch, gas, bathroom breaks.  We arrived late afternoon and was a good thing it wasn't to much later as the final couple of miles into the park was in the trees and it was starting to get dark.  We were staying at the Katahdin Stream Campground and we hiked up Hunt Trail.

Our tent site

Gary, Ginny & Damien's lean-to
(not a clear picture)

Katahdin Stream - Behind our sites
Very cold and very refreshing after a hike

We had been getting mixed reports on the weather all week, rain, sun, no rain, etc... We had booked an extra night at the park just in case we needed to adjust our hiking day due to rain.  We all got up on Thursday morning to discuss our options.  Some of us wanted to hike, some wanted to put it off a day.  In the end we chose to hike.  The trip all the way to the summit was more or less in the clouds.  You could not see anything.  It was looking like we chose the wrong day.. but that would all change once we reached the summit.

The crew
Mike, Tony, Kely, Damien, Gary

Gary signing us all in at the trailhead

The first mile or so is more or less flat

First water crossing

Bridge crossing

Last outhouse on trail

Kely wasn't feeling very well this morning
She said it was the oatmeal, I think it was the margarita the night before!

If you can't hike the whole mountain, you should at least try
and hike to Katahdin Stream Falls

Katahdin Stream Falls

Me @ Katahdin Stream Falls

Further up the trail started to get more rocky

 Not quite at the boulder field - but the climbing has started

Katahdin is very special in that the tree line ends around 3500' and you have about 2000' to climb above tree line.  This may not seem like much to people in other parts of the country/world.  But here in New England we have very limited mountains with above tree line hiking and 2000' to climb above tree line is incredible!  Once you get out of the trees you hit what is called the "Boulder Field".  For the next 1000' or more you are basically climbing one huge rock scramble.  Even though we were not hiking "Knifes Edge", if you have height issues, this mountain may not be for you.  I was very close to turning back at one point.  Hunt Trail climbs the spine of the mountain and can be very intimidating in some places.

Coming out of the trees - the boulder field starts here

Our ascent up into the boulder field

As you can see in the above picture, we were completely socked in.  There was no view to speak of.  The hike was going well, but we were very disappointed with the lack of views.  We started feeling like we should have put the hike off until the next day.

 In the clouds

Gary using the handrail
This was the first section that was difficult to navigate

Another section you had to crawl up and across

Damien standing on the edge

Kely fighting the winds

Tony in the clouds

We were all getting very upset with the conditions.  Windy, cloudy, no views, bah!

Some very steep sections

Looks like the summit?  We are not even close!

We made it to the plateau

After navigating the boulder field for a couple of hours, we finally made it to the plateau.  This is not the summit, not even close.  We still have another 2 hours of walking across the plateau to get to the summit.  Once again we are still in the clouds and things did not look like they were going to change any time soon.

Heading off into the clouds to the summit

There was hardly any water here

1 mile to the summit of Baxter Peak

Damien and Kely at the one mile sign

Every now and then the clouds would blow out and we
would get a slight view ahead of us

As we got closer to the summit the clouds started to clear out

First view all day looking out off the mountain

The summit - Baxter Peak - Is in sight!

The famous summit sign is in view

Looking back at the plateau we just crossed
As we arrived at the summit the clouds started to blow out.  We couldn't believe it!  What timing!  The entire hike up we were all complaining about no views and we should have waited until the next day to hike.  That all changed at the summit and on the descent.  Going back across the plateau and the descent I had to stop and take pictures all over again because now we had clear skies!!  It was amazing what we were about to see that we missed on the way up.

The Crew @ the summit of Katahdin 5,268'
Tony, Gary, Mike, Damien, Kely

At this point in my blog I would normally end it with stats and GPS pictures.  But due to the lack of views on the way up and then the clouds clearing out on the descent, I need to post all the pictures you would have normally seen on the way up.  You will not be disappointed in these pictures.

The Knife Edge trail

Mount Katahdin

Katahdin USGS marker

Tony @ the summit cairn

Looking across the ridge trail from the summit of baxter peak

Gary said those were not people standing on the other peak.  Yes they were!

Another great shot of the Knife Edge trail

For those that don't know.  The Knife Edge trail is a 1 mile long trail that is 3' wide for 3/10th of a mile.  It is very dangerous and is closed in bad weather and high winds.

Another view from the summit

The plateau

The sun was starting to come out

Looking over the edge

Heading down the spine - narrow trail section

View on the descent

Tony taking a break

Going down

Looking back towards the plateau

View on the descent

The end
I was miserable here.  My legs and knees were in so much pain


GPS Track #1

GPS Track #2

GPS Track #3

Summit of Katahdin: 5,268'
Total hike time (round trip)..: 12h
Elevation Gain.....................: 4,567'
Distance (round trip)...........: 12.13 miles
Trails: Hunt Trail