It was cold again at night, but Saturday, July 29th was another beautiful, warm day. It was my last day in the 100 Mile Wilderness. It was quite an experience. My pack was heavy through the early miles because I was carrying provisions for 8 days. But as the days passed, the pack became significantly lighter. I feel so fortunate that I had good weather during this stretch. Bad weather would have made this section absolutely miserable. Although very remote, it was amazingly beautiful.
This is a picture of one of many ponds I came across. It was particularly enjoyable because the Trail followed the shoreline.
I climbed to the top of a very small mountain called The Ledges of Mt Rainbow. It was a fantastic little mountain. First, there were tons of blueberry bushes here, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Also, there was cell reception, so I called Diane. Lastly, there was this take-your-breath-away view of Mt Katahdin.
I was also serenaded by loons throughout the day. What a treat!
It was nice speaking to Diane, and it will be even better seeing her in a few days. She is coming to Maine with Arline for my summit of Mt Katahdin on the 1st.
Leaving the 100 Mile Wilderness, I came to Abol Bridge and, from this old rickety bridge, there is a phenomenal view of Mt Katahdin. I think this is the best view of Katahdin at any location anywhere.
It was such a wonderful day. I spent the night in a cabin at Abol Bridge Campground. The following day I planned to hike the remaining 10 miles to the base of Katahdin.
During the night, I was again treated to the calls of loons.
Shortly after sunrise on the 30th, I walked back to Abol Bridge and took this video of Mt Katahdin.
Then I hiked to Katahdin Stream Camp, listening to the loons. They seem to be everywhere on this part of the Trail. Upon arrival at the Camp, I registered with the Rangers to summit on Aug 1st. I have no idea how long it will take me, but I am guessing it will be somewhere in the vicinity of 10-12 hours to both ascend and descend. The ascent and descent are each 5.2 miles. There is an extremely steep 1.5-mile boulder scramble which will consume a lot of time going up, and more time going down. This has been on my mind for over a week.
I managed to get a 26-mile ride into Millinocket with a guy who was running a hiker shuttle, and stayed at the Appalachian Trail Lodge, a well-known hiker hostel.
At the AT Lodge, I saw injured hikers who were forced to leave the Trail. In the last month I have seen at least ten injured hikers. Some just require a few days off from hiking, but others were Trail-ending injuries. A simple wrong foot placement on uneven terrain, or a fall, slip or trip on a root can put you out of the hiking business.
I met Diane and my sister Arline at our hotel in Millinocket on Monday, July 31st. It was great to see both of them. Later in the day, they drove me to the base of Katahdin. I spent the night in a lean-to at Katahdin Stream Campground in Baxter State Park, at the base of the mountain, in order to get an early start on my summit.
I got up early on Tuesday the 1st and was on the Trail at 0545. The day a hiker summits Katahdin is always a big day, and is usually planned many days in advance, sometimes even before the 100 Mile Wilderness. You always want good weather, because the views are reportedly magnificent, and no one wants to work hard without scenic benefits. Also, no one wants to make that 4,100-foot ascent and descent on wet rocks. I was fortunate to have a beautiful, clear day.
About 2 miles or so into the ascent, the trekking poles were put away because the boulders became bigger and the Trail became steeper. Shortly thereafter the ascent was nearly vertical in a boulder scramble and the climbing was hand-over-hand and very slow.
During my ascent, the WAVUS gals were descending, and when they saw me they were all excited and yelling to each other, “It’s The Old Guy!” “The Old Guy is here!” Their enthusiasm made me feel very good. I had not seen them for about 3 or 4 days. They told me they began their day at 0330. I admired this group of kids and their two adult leaders. I am sorry I never got a picture of them.
It took me 4 hours and 50 mins to reach the summit. There were about 30 or so hikers on the summit. Everyone was relaxing, taking pictures, enjoying the views and having lunch. I saw several hikers I had met days and sometimes weeks before.
Here are some of the views and a short video:
The views were spectacular, and Knife’s Edge is amazing to see. I am sure there must be very impressive videos on You Tube regarding this Trail. Knife’s Edge is a Trail some hikers use as a descent trail. It is an all-ridgeline, very rocky trail ranging from 1 to 4 feet wide, with 1,000- to 2,000-foot vertical drops on each side. It is a daunting as well as intimidating trail to look at, and it is not for the faint of heart. You can see that it is appropriately named.
The descent from Katahdin was tough and slow, taking me exactly 6 hours to complete. Here are 3 pictures taken during the descent.
Immediately after the descent, we celebrated at a restaurant on Lake Millinocket with a beautiful view of Mt Katahdin. We enjoyed a good meal and each other’s company.
Including the 110 miles of my AT test hikes last fall, I have now completed 58% (1,277 miles) of the AT. Regardless of what happens from this point forward, I believe this trek has been a success.