10/8/2011 - Katahdin, ME
My last highpoint of the season came about when I was made aware of the following information, 1) that my brother in-laws best friend, Greg, who I’ve met many times enjoys hiking and 2) that he was studying for his doctorate of history at University of Maine in Bangor. These two facts coupled with the fact that my normal highpointing partner supposedly hiked Katahdin with the boy scouts like 15 years ago got my brain a working. A plan was put into action and we agreed to give the mighty Katahdin a go on October 8th, the forecast called for great weather and his fellow graduate student, Lee, also wanted to join us. I took Friday off from work and made the long drive from NYC to Greg’s place in Orono, Maine, what’s depressing about this drive is you finally get to Maine and your all excited but you still have like 3 hours left to go. The next morning with our DUPR in hand we left at 5:00am to get to Togue Pond Gatehouse by 7:05am when apparently they stop excepting DUPR’s. We got there and there is a line of cars waiting to see availability of unused DUPR’s you pass this line and get in the next and after about 20 minutes of confusion and cars trying to pass and having to back up we made it through and proceeded to Roaring Brook.
We hit the trail at 7:45am under sunny skies and 70-degree weather. (yup you heard that right Northern Maine, 70+ degrees, October).
First 3.3 miles to Chimney Pond went swimmingly, Greg set a quick pace and we stopped a few times for much needed scenic shots.
We stopped at Chimney Pond for snacks and it’s pretty intimidating to see Katahdin towering above you from here, its really steep and you wonder how will we get up there.
We chose Cathedral Trail as our path to top. The ranger warned us that its no joke but ensured us that it was doable for young lads looking for adventure. The scrambling starts very quickly after departing. It was challenging but very fun, the fact that we were all only about 5’8” tall made some of the reaches a tad tricky. Greg had the most difficult time since he was wearing sneakers and they had like no grip. You certainly don’t want to slip and fall in many spots, you may not die but you will certainly break some serious bones. This goes on for like 1.5miles, which was pretty tiring both physically and mentally. Lee turned out to be quite the scrambler he was like a spider monkey hopping from rock to rock and lovin it, he’d never done anything like this before and this may have started an addiction for him. There were several pockets of snow where the sun couldn’t penetrate.
After that ordeal we took a short break once we made it to the scree section.
The summit was very crowded, like 50 people.
There were several gentleman from Georgia covered in piercings with a large confederate flag posing in front of the sign right before us, didn’t expect that one. It was quite windy at the summit but we had great views and I was very excited to get highpoint #20.
Our original plan was to go over the knife-edge for the descent however due to wind we decided against it. You can see from this picture no one is out there.
So our updated plan was to descend via the Saddle Trail. We started going and we ran into this baby snake soaking up some of the last sun of the season, can’t say that I blame him.
After awhile we realized we were not going in the right direction, I asked some upcoming hikers and they said we were on the Hunt Trail, not sure how far we went in wrong direction. I noticed most people summiting from this direction were wearing jeans and there were a lot more kids, this is probably the trail my cousin Jeff did back in the day with the boy scouts. So we had to take the Saddle Trail Cut Off for 0.9miles, cool views and terrain but my feet weren’t pleased with extra unnecessary mileage.
We finally made it to the Saddle Trail. The down climbing section is pretty steep and several times had to slide on my butt, it’s defiantly easier than Cathedral but still you have to watch every step. My feet have never bothered me as much as this hike, I think its combo of so much rock walking and having no pain relievers, which I usually carry. This made the final 3.3 miles from Chimney Pond a tad grueling plus I ran out of water on last 1.5 miles. Anyways after all was said and done we made worse time on way down than up and my feet were beat. However I mustered the strength to light a victory cigar and drive all the way back to my parent’s house in RI. I was awake for over 20 hours that day but well worth it to get in one last highpoint before my winter hibernation.