Maine Appalachian Trail Hike Day 22: Katahdin

For starters, it’s Katahdin. Not Mount Katahdin. Not Katahdin Mountain. Just plain Katahdin. The Native Americans used to call it “Kette-Adene,” which meant the “greatest mountain.” They were on to something.

The Appalachian Trail climbs Katahdin via the popular Hunt Trail. Unlike other 5,000+ foot mountains in New England where the trailheads start at 2000-3000 feet, the Hunt Trail starts around 1000, which means there is over 4000 feet of elevation gain in just 5.2 miles. In other words, most of the trail is steep. Very steep.

The first two miles are fairly easy going from the campground to Katahdin Stream Bridge. From the bridge there are a series of vertical stone staircases that go past the 50-foot cascades of Katahdin Stream Falls. The tree line occurs around 3300-3400 feet, which coincides with a seemingly never-ending boulder field reminiscent of Mahoosuc Notch. The wind was strong and steady as we climbed over the boulders, giving us the distinct feeling that with one slip-up it was entirely possible we could fall off the face of the Earth altogether. Coming back down over the boulders wasn’t nearly as nerve wracking since we had the benefit of seeing what was below us.

Once out of the boulders we were into the open tableland alpine zone for the last mile and a half, which also led us past Thoreau Spring. The elevation gain at this point is much more gradual and the trail is easier going, though still rocky.

We had the benefit of a good day weather wise, but there still were some clouds blowing through as we crossed the table land and reached Baxter Peak, elevation 5267. One of the more interesting sights we saw was a crow soaring sideways in the forceful wind.

There was also a bunch of thru hikers that we’d met along the trail the past few weeks summiting this morning. As cool as it was for us to reach the end of our journey after close to 300 miles, their jubilation (and champagne celebration) was deservedly earned after the 2178.3 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Katahdin. Congratulations to Birch, Garage Man, Floweasy, Picker, Redman, Snowman, Hard Rock and a few others. Belated congrats to Iron Mike and Philly Jeff.

Katahdin Stream Falls

I think this is “the Cave,” someone please correct me if I’m wrong on this.

Entering the boulders, the trail begins to resemble Mahoosuc Notch.

Early morning view from the Hunt Trail.

A good portion of the Hunt Trail is more scrambling/climbing than it is hiking.

Sure. No problem.

It was a good thing Brad had the floral Hawaiian pack on; otherwise I might have lost him in the clouds.

Yes, that Henry David Thoreau.

Two-tone hiking pants are going to be all the rage. Just wait. You’ll see.

We made it!

And then I started daydreaming of burgers at Five Guys & Fries, clean socks, rinsing my toothbrush under running water, not having to worry about what’s going to bite my bottom every time I go to the bathroom, motorized transportation, cold beverages that weren’t previously called “pond scum,” and, well, I could go on…

The view from the summit into the South Basin and Chimney Pond.

Katahdin offers another challenge, the Knife’s Edge, for the brave and foolhardy. We were neither.

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Maine, Maine Appalachian Trail
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Wow! You made it all the way to the bottom. If you enjoyed this article, please check out my book, Open Season: True Stories of the Maine Warden Service on Amazon or at www.wardenstories.com. You can also follow Northeast Hikes on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as well as contribute to our sponsored Google+ Community.

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