Being fed up with work, I decided to take an extra day off, and finally go to Maine to climb Katahdin. I checked 3 different weather sites, and they all agreed that Wed. was going to be clear, and not too high of a temp either. It was the perfect weather window for one day. So my plan was to drive up to Bangor Tuesday, get up early on Wed., and go to Katahdin. I was so excited!
I left my house in NJ at 9am, and I got to Bangor around 530pm. Maine is a big State, I’ll tell you that. I called and asked what time the gate opens, and they said 5am, which wouldn’t be a problem for me, because I am used to crazy hours. I also asked if it was busy so far this year, and they said not during the week. Weekends yes, but weekdays no. I wanted to get to the gate at 430am, just in case. As it turns out, I got there at 505am, and nobody else was there. I told the guy I wanted to go to the Roaring Brook Campground, and he said I was only the 3rd person to go there that day. I asked if all the trails were open, and he said, “as of right now.”
So right off the bat, a couple of my worries about Baxter State Park proved unnecessary. I really wanted to go up the Taylor/Knife Edge trail. I was prepared to do other routes, but my heart was set on that route. Also I was concerned about waiting in line at the gate, which wasn’t an issue at all. Another thing I heard was that the Rangers sometimes give climbers a hard time before they set out. I had all the proper gear, but I just didn’t feel like answering a bunch of questions from a Ranger thinking I’m not cut out for it. This was an unwarranted worry too, because I didn’t even see a Ranger until I was signing out at the end of the day.
I set off on the trail around 610am. The Helon Taylor trail starts off fairly steep right away. There are a few level spots, but it’s mainly just going UP the entire time. It’s funny because somebody wrote “Big Hill” with an arrow along the trail, and they weren’t joking around either! The climb up Pamola was tough for me. I was feeling like mush. You got to climb around all these boulders before you even reach the “spine.” I knew I should have had a proper breakfast beforehand. I just had no energy. The “spine” was like this never ending climb to the top. You just get a glimpse of some of the Knife Edge here. I struggled along and finally made it to the top of Pamola at 9am, much longer than I expected it to take. I did something I never did before, and just threw up my arms in the air for victory. Then I looked to my left and saw some guy sitting on Chimney Peak watching me! So I sort of waved to him, and he waved back. The view you get from Pamola gave me a boost. I ate some, and just stared in awe at the Knife Edge, finally seeing it with my own eyes. It was just spectacular.
I checked out the gap between Pamola and Chimney Peak. Yeah it’s a gap, but it’s not that bad. Not that bad at all, heck it’s kind of fun! The weather was great that day, no wind. So crossing the Knife Edge was just a matter of taking my time. I loved it! It was something I’ve wanted to do for a while, so to be out there actually doing it was awesome. The views are just outstanding. I took a lot of pictures, took my time, and made it to Baxter Peak around 1030am. On South Peak, getting there, there was like a hive of bees?! Didn’t stick around too long there to analyze it.
There was like maybe 10 people on the top when I got there. After awhile it fizzled out to me and two other guys, before this troop of girls arrived. It really was a nice moment for me. Man, I really enjoyed that hike up there. It’s going to remain an absolute favorite of mine for sure.
I took the Saddle trail down, and ran into a lot of friendly people going up. The Saddle trail wasn’t that bad, nor was the Chimney Pond trail, except I was tired and hungry, so that made it drag. I got back to Roaring Brook around 245pm, so it was a long day, but totally worth it. I stayed in Portland that night, and then drove back to NJ the next day to go to my job that night. Work can really suck sometimes!