Trip to Maine…

It took me two and a half days of driving to get to Baxter State Park (BSP). Some of that was an adventure in itself. I finally arrived at BSP on Monday, August 6th. Greg, Jonathan, Ariel, and I had planned to go on this trip since December 31st, 2011. Luckily, Greg was able to reserve the bunkhouse at Roaring Brook campground. It was nice to sleep indoors during our stay there. Though, with no electricity and no man-made running water in the park, it still felt like a real camping trip. We got up early on Tuesday morning to climb Mt Katahdin to reach Baxter Peak, the highest point on Mt Katahdin at 5268 ft. It was a very fun trip, and a very exhausting climb!

On my first day of driving to Maine (Aug 4th), I got a flat tire in Dayton, Ohio. Luckily there was a Wal-Mart nearby and their tire center was still open for another 30 minutes. They got me on my way and I stayed the night in Columbus, Ohio. I got up the next morning and drove all the way to Lancaster, New Hampshire, where I spent the next night. While driving through New York, I think I saw an eagle flying north from Allegany State Park. On the morning I left Lancaster, I happened to see a large picturesque field on the east side of town. I had to stop and take some pictures. From there I conintued on to Baxter State Park in Maine. Just outside the Park is a large painted boulder that I wanted to get my picture by. I set up my tripod and had to run over to the boulder to get the shots. One shot was tough to do because I wanted to have a picture of me on top of the boulder. I was able to run behind the boulder and climb to the top just in time to get my picture taken. From there I continued on into BSP.

Shortly after arriving at BSP I went for a hike around Sandy Stream Pond. During my hike I saw several squirrels, chipmunks, and even some rabbits. I hear that Ariel and Jonathan saw a moose and calf swimming through the Pond which then get out on the other side from them. Greg was an excellent trip planner, not only did he secure the bunkhouse, but he also brought firewood so that he could cook dinner. We had kabobs on that first night, very tasty! We were all amazed at how many stars you could see at night. For a little bit we thought it was cloudy, but then we realized that we were looking at the Milky Way! Later that night, the Roaring Brook Park Ranger came over to talk with us about our hiking and climbing plans. He recommended that we take the Saddle Trail up to Baxter Peak, and then cross the Knife's Edge, and then come down the Helon Taylor trail. He recommended this because most people just focus on getting to Baxter Peak, and from there they could turn around and come back if they didn't want to do the Knife's Edge. However, we knew we wanted to do the Helon Taylor Trail and the Knife's Edge, so we decided to go up Helon Taylor first.

The Roaring Brook campground is at about 1500 ft of elevation and Baxter Peak is at 5268 ft. We knew we had a long day ahead of us so we woke up very early on Tuesday morning, at 4am. We started up the Helon Taylor Trail at 5am. Jonathan, Ariel, and Jonathan were quick climbers, so Greg and I pretty quickly lost sight of them. One reason I was slow was because I wanted to take pictures of as much as I could. Also, I wasn't in the best of shape for this particular climb. The morning was cold and the trail was quite dark when we started, but we were able to see the suns first light lighting up Mt Katahdin. By about 6:30am the whole mountain was bathed in the warm early morning sunlight. At around 8am Greg and I made it above the treeline and were still climbing on the Helon Taylor Trail. At around 9:30am Greg and I made it to the first peak on this climb, Pamola Peak. It has an elevation of 4902 ft. From here there is a large 100 ft notch, or dip, between Pamola Peak and Chimney Peak. Even though the peaks are probably 100-200 yards apart, this was a tricky up and down climb. After making it to Chimney Peak we started climbing across the Knife's Edge. This is a very rock trail along the top of the mountain with steep drop offs on either side of the trail. It was here that we met up with Ariel and Jonathan. We took a short break, and got a group photo. Then we continued on the Knife's Edge where we ran into the other Jonathan who was on his way back from Baxter's Peak! He is an amazingly good climber. He continued back to the Roaring Brook campground and the rest of us continued on to Baxter's Peak. We finally reached the top at around noon, after only 7 hours of climbing! Unfortunately, by this point I had already drank 3 and half of my 4 water bottles. We went down the Saddle Trail to get back to our campground. We were all basically out of water. On our way down we came across a stream. The guys got a little bit of water from it, and actually Ariel drank a lot. But I didn't want to have any because I was worried about what might be in it. We continued hiking back to our campground. I was exhausted and thirsty and very slow on this leg of the trip. Actually, I was so slow that I lost sight of the other guys on our hike back. I was extrememly lucky to come across two different groups of hikers who were willing to share some water with me. It took a long time, but I was finally able to get back to our campground and get some much needed water and Gatorade. Gatorade is remarkably refreshing after a long and arduous climb like this one.

I made it back to the campgrounds by around 5pm, so this was a 12 hour hike and climb for me. The Helon Taylor Trail is 3.2 miles to Pamola Peak with an elevation gain of 3413 ft. The Knife Edge Trail is 1.1 miles to Baxter Peak with an elevation gain of 365 ft. So, this was 4.3 miles of hiking and 3778 ft of climbing. The Saddle Trail is 2.2 miles to Chimney Pond with an elevation descent of 2353 ft. The Chimney Pond Trail is 3.3 miles to Roaring Brook campground with an elevation descent of 1425 ft. So, climbing down from Baxter Peak was a 5.5 mile hike with 3778 ft descent. In total we hiked 9.8 miles and climbed up, and back down, 3778 ft. Quite a day! That night Greg cooked Bratwurst that his mother had made. Thanks! It was very delicious. This was an excellent trip and a great climb. I would definitely go again if I had the chance. Be sure to check out the pictures in the gallery below.
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