The weather is warmer and it’s time for my adventure team and I to plan out our big trips of 2017. As we start to nail down locations, number of PTO days, and mileage, Ed makes a comment about my blog. “Shelby, you really need to keep up with your blog. You can’t have it on Instagram and not write it,” he lamented. And with that, I felt a renewed interest to share my adventures.
Our view as we ate dinner in Baxter State Park.
While it’ll still be a bit before one of our next big trips, I thought I’d share my experience on climbing Mount Katahdin a.k.a Baxter’s Peak. Katahdin is the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at the end of a stretch called the Hundred-Mile Wilderness. However, my story of the Hundred-Mile Wilderness is a tale for a different day.
Brad, Emma, Ed, Spencer, and I had spent a night camping in Baxter State Park. We’d been really lucky to get a site; they book out often during that time of year. We spent the day hanging out by a river, tending to blisters, and letting our shoes dry. Morale was a little low, but we were trying to save the trip. Ed had the brilliant idea to hike up the mountain during sunrise. That sounded amazing, even though it meant waking up at 3:30 am. Emma’s feet were in rough shape and she didn’t think she could summit, so she backed out and said she’d clean up camp while the four of us hiked.
When the 3:30 am alarms went off, I really doubted my ability to climb the mountain. I told Brad that I was going to stay back with Emma. Instead of even listening to me, he just kept cueing me through getting ready. “Deflate your sleeping pad. Where’s your headlamp? Where’s your breakfast? Put on clean socks.” I was really not a morning person on that day.
Ed, for whatever reason, was awake and rearing to go! He boiled water and had my breakfast cooking. For some DUMB reason, I decided to eat one of my rice & beans dinners for breakfast. That was a regrettable choice….but more on that later. Everyone was up, dressed, and eating. Daypacks were ready and camp was broken. As everyone moved in a slow motion haze (except Ed…Coach came out that morning for sure), Emma polled the group. “Do you think I can come?” She was met with an overwhelming yes. We piled into our rented SUV and headed to the trailhead.
We were the first names in the trail log that morning.
Starting the hike in the dark was exhilarating. It was chilly and we were moving quickly. However, my “breakfast” dinner was not feeling too nice in my stomach. About half a mile in, I thought I was going to be sick. My sides were cramping and I needed to stop. Pro-tip: don’t eat a spicy rice and bean dinner and then start hiking up a mountain. 0/10- would not recommend.
As the sun rose, we took a moment to appreciate the beauty of the wilderness we were surrounded by. Every moment was breath-taking; there were so many waterfalls as we hiked.
About halfway up, the hike turned in to more of a scramble. My trekking poles were more of a hindrance than a help at this point. The higher we got, the windier it became. I was glad I had my rain coat with me, to help block the wind. The higher we got, the harder it was to hear. The wind whipped across our faces, chapping our cheeks.
Following behind Brad as we make our ascent up Katahdin.
The trail was pretty well-marked; simply follow the white blazes, as you would throughout the entire Appalachian Trail. It seemed to go up and up and up, until we reached a flat boulder field. We could see the summit and were energized by the closeness.
Almost at the top!
When we finally reached the top, the views were astounding. The wind was whipping, so it was hard to hear and converse, but we all took some time to enjoy. Spencer had his Summit Snickers, Ed had like 12 protein bars, Brad gave me some fruit snacks. Being at the top of Katahdin is a feeling like no other- you feel invincible and like the whole world is at your fingertips.
The whole Adventure Fam at the top of Katahdin, taking a serious picture.
After about half an hour hanging out at the top, we began to see more people climbing up to summit and knew it was time to make our descent. Climbing down the mountain was my least part of the experience. I am very afraid of heights and looking down through all of the scramble parts of the trek was the worst. Thanks definitely go out to Emma and Brad for keeping me sane.
Descending down Katahdin; Emma behind me and Brad in front.
As we wound our way down the mountain, we shouted words of encouragement to those on their way up. We relaxed by a stream for a while and made friends with a family just beginning their hike. The sun was shinning bright and everyone was feeling happy. We did something cool – we’d made our trip to Maine worth it.
As we left Baxter State Park, we saw two moose in a pond. Another totally cool experience.
It was time for lobster.