Sunday, October 8, 2017

It's All Katahdin - Oct 2

Our daughter Mackenzie (NOBO 2012) pulled into Millinocket, Maine Sunday evening right on schedule. So did the awesome weather. Best Wife and Pappy 12 are so glad that we did not push our schedule to summit Katahdin on Friday, Sept 29. After talking with hikers who did (and a few who tried but turned back) we want no part of 55mph winds. Saturday and Sunday were better weather days but we knew the summit would be full of day hikers, plus Mackenzie wouldn't be there anyway to summit with us anyway, not to mention three days rest at Appalachian Trail Lodge (hostel) was much needed. 

We got up early on Monday, Oct 2. Packed breakfast sandwiches, ham and cheese sandwiches, a ton of snacks, Poweraid, and chocolate milk. The three of us drove 40 minutes to the Appalachian Trail at Katahdin Stream Campground at the base of Mt Katahdin in Baxter State Park. 

The Penobscot Indians named this mountain Katahdin, which means "The Grestest Mountain". Best Wife, Progress and Pappy 12 were in great spirits and full of excitement to finally be climbing The Greatest Mountain. 

The first mile was relatively easy hiking through beautiful firs, but the wind was much more stiff than was forecasted. Being protected by the woods, we don't feel much wind. But it's roaring sound at the tree tops is a constant reminder of what may be in store for us above treeline. The second mile got good and steep to get us warmed up for the fun part. But as windy as it was I was worried we were headed for trouble ahead. Once out of the forest, above treeline, we climbed boulder after boulder, some included steel rods drilled into rock to make climbing without ropes possible. My concern for Best Wife having to endure strong winds above treeline ended abruptly as the wind simply vanished. Winds the rest of the day were as calm as they could be. 

The reward for climbing the steepest of the boulders was a rock path along a stunning ridge (see the last picture). The ridge led to another steep, mildly technical rock scramble that ended at a tableland about a mile from the summit. 

At this point we could just make out images of the folks at the summit. I had a tough time with the tears as the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail was within sight, physically and emotionally. Even though we still have 200 miles to trek in VA to complete our thru hike, reaching the summit of Katahdin will be the end of our six month, day in and day out, 2000 mile adventure. I'll explain the last 200 miles later. 

As we hiked that last mile I was back and forth minute by minute shouting with excitement, followed by a flood of tears as the summit drew close. 

When we were within 20 feet of the Katahdin sign at the summit, a guy my age, with a beard as full (and desirable) as mine, was standing on the sign for his photo shoot. There were 15 or 20 other hikers around, some quietly celebrating their accomplishment, others out for the day watching this parade of thru hikers. While this old guy was on the sign, he bellowed out for all to hear, "I've got a tent and sleeping bag for sale. I'll even throw in a slightly used Jet Boil."  Very good timing for a good laugh. 

He climbed down so it was our turn. As I grasped the sign, like a preacher grasps his pulpit, I read the words: KATAHDIN  Northern Terminus Of The Appalachian Trail. My fingers felt compelled to trace the white letters routed into wood. With my arm around the best wife I can imagine, together we tried to soaked it all in. It felt very good. 

As the three of us made our way down The Greatest Mountain we knew we had accomplished what we set out to do. Even though we are hiking to a car and headed home it still doesn't compute. I'm sure in a few days it will. 

The three of us will drive to Boston tomorrow where Mackenzie will fly home and Best Wife and Pappy 12 will spend a few days with two grandsons. We will be home in Virginia for only a few days before we fly out to Utah to spend time with those grand babies. 

We will have a great time hiking the last 200 miles in VA in November, no crowds, great temps, only fair weather days for us. Maybe even trade the tent for a motel on occasion if we feel like it. Then finally head down near the Chattahoochee River in GA to see more grand babies.  

Life is good. I am blessed way more than I deserve.  

Sent from my iPhone

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic! Great blog. Well done. Felt like I was there with you.