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 Katahdin!!!! 
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 Katahdin!!!!
OK, I know it’s Hike-nh.com and almost all posts and trip reports are from NH, but this was such a great place that I had to include it here.
I’d never been to Baxter State Park but had always wanted to do Katahdin (or Baxter Peak). The problem is that the permit process is very cumbersome (I just want to go and camp and hike….none of this reservation and limitation stuff) and it’s a 6 hour drive from my house that’s just north of Boston.
However, after experiencing what this park has to offer, I can see why there are so many restrictions and the 6 hours is well worth it!
Understanding the park is a little difficult in terms of where to camp and what to hike. A friend of mine, Julie, made the reservations so we could camp in the park itself. There are several campgrounds in the park and there is one at each trailhead. Roaring Brook is the most popular as there is a large area for day hikers. You should be at the gate by 4AM or so as this lot has a very limited capacity…once full, the rangers will send you home. This is the most direct campground in order to take the Helon Taylor Trail and traverse the famous Knife’s Edge. Other campgrounds include Abol, where we stayed, and Katahdin Stream and a few others so check the BSP website for making reservations and also for their regulations. These are primitive sites so there’s no running water or electricity, just a picnic table and fire ring, but they are spacious and fairly level. There are also some sites with lean-to’s that have awnings to cover the picnic table.

We decided the best approach would be to take the Abol Slide Trail right from our campsite and car spot at the Katahdin Stream. Our initial plan was to split the group at the summit so that Julie, Dave, and Paula could do Hamlin as part of their NE100 list. Jeff and I were going to attempt the South Peak and then the Knife Edge back and forth. The first group would descend from Hamlin and Jeff and I were going to go back down via Abol. In the end we kept it as a group hike and stayed together due to the weather changes.

The Abol Slide was awesome with spectacular southern views the entire way and ominous views of the massif in front of you. The trail is about 4 miles to the summit but it involves a 3900 foot elevation gain (ok, do your rise over run calculations now but delete the first and last mile to really get a sense of the slope). We thought it would be similar to climbing Mt Adams in the Whites due to the similar elevation gain, but nothing could be further from the truth. This trail is FUN! The first mile is fairly level and very easy going until the base of the slide, and once you top out, it’s a gentle stroll to Baxter Peak. However, those miles in between while on the slide are some serious work! The is a lot of scree and loose rocks over the entire slide and there are several large boulders to be navigated….a lot of which is hand over hand. There are a few places where you can go to the right side and avoid some of the scrambling, but I think the personality of this trails just begs to be climbed the most direct route straight up the slide.

Once at the top of the slide it’s an easy 1mile stroll to the summit of Baxter Peak and we had the opportunity to congratulate an AT through hiker that had just finished and was on his way back to civilization. Unfortunately the beautiful sunny day we had started with had quickly deteriorated into the clouds and we were totally occluded with 50 foot max visibility the rest of the day. The cloud formations that came in were like nothing I had ever seen and made for a spectacular show until we were completely immersed. This rapid weather change also meant a change in plans for all of us. The Knife Edge was out because this part of the trail is dangerous in poor conditions and we couldn’t even see the South Peak to start the edge. We took our customary summit photos, ate some lunch, and then decided that Hamlin was also not going to be attempted as the chance for the weather to worsen was very high and this area is completely exposed for miles.

With the poor weather conditions we thought we made a wise decision to avoid the Abol Slide for descent and take the western route called the Hunt Trail down. This is a 5mile trail that ends at the Katahdin Stream Campground, so we also figured that it would be a little easier in terms of the grade of the slope. Wrong again. This trail was insane :shock: ! Right from the start there is nothing but huge boulders to be down-climbed and several areas where you must squeeze through huge rocks in order to proceed. In addition there are several sizeable drops where iron hand holds have been installed to assist climbers (yes, you are a climber on this hill and not a hiker!). After several grueling hours of descent over this boulder field of a trail the only reprieve is the final mile but by this time your knees are begging for some rest and relief so even the final mile is long.

We started the hike a little after 7AM and were back in camp by 5 PM so it really wasn’t too bad time wise (we made book time both ways) but it is still a very long day and our legs were very happy to be in the sleeping bag by 9.

Hopefully the link to my pictures works.
Bill

http://spaces.msn.com/members/pucknuts6 ... photoalbum

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Fri Aug 26, 2005 10:48 am
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and I was there! :D

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Fri Aug 26, 2005 11:41 am
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Baxter is one of those places I have on my to-do list. Never been there and want to try the Knife Edge. I very rarely ever here anyone have anything bad to say about it. What concerns me the most is the drive up and what happens if you can't get a spot. Is it easy to reserve space? How soon do you have to do it? Is there a minimum or maximum stay? I may need to go with someone who has been there before to learn the ropes. Great Report Brownie! You make it sound like a dreamland!


Fri Aug 26, 2005 1:42 pm
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Looks like a great trip, very good pictures also.
Picture 29 is pretty cool looking with the clouds.
Nice job.


Fri Aug 26, 2005 4:52 pm
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Ok Bill, you're totally fired. I can't believe you posted a trip report from a hike in Maine!

:)

(nice write up!)

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Fri Aug 26, 2005 9:52 pm
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OK, No words
but here are my shots of the trip!

http://spaces.msn.com/members/browniebl ... photoalbum

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Sun Aug 28, 2005 7:54 pm
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Fantastic shots Brownie! That slide reminds me of Tripyramid, only bigger. :) Keep up the good work!

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Sun Aug 28, 2005 10:46 pm
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Sorry for not giving credit Brownie (and you have some much better pictures especially of the that trail!)

I just figured that I posted a Maine trip on Hike-nh and I was going to take the full wrath for it.
As you can see, I was fired like a Donald Trump apprentice so I didn't want anyone else to go down with me.

But thanks Paula, Julie, Dave, Diane (better know as Creek Critter here on Hinke-nh), and especially Brownie!
(so I'm going down for the count and now I am taking you with me! :wink: )
Bill

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Mon Aug 29, 2005 7:44 am
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So, I guess we can forget about posting our AWESOME Sierra trip as well...??
:o

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Mon Aug 29, 2005 9:26 am
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