This past weekend I was able to join the MWSC junior programs on their summer migration to Katahdin. As we did last year, as camped out at the New England Outdoor Center the night before, enjoying the magical sounds of early morning loons and (not enjoying) the lack of quality sleep. The NEOC is a pretty neat spot and if you ever have an opportunity to hit it up, I'd recommend it. The location can't be beat for anything you're planning in the Baxter area. I woke up once during the night for a nature call and when I stepped out of my tent I was shocked to see what the sky looks like in an area with absolutely no light polution. There are so many stars on a clear night...if I hadn't been resting up for a big adventure I probably would have gotten out my camera and played with night shots in an effort to capture what I saw. Now I have to go back! I woke up again shortly before 5 to the sounds of loons going crazy on the lake...there must have been some territorial war going on. The whole MWSC crew got up at 5a.m. for a 5:30 departure from camp and a 6 o'clock start to our hikes.
This is a topographical map of Katahdin...probably best to enlarge it for viewing (click on it).
Casey (our newest ODT biathlete at MWSC) and I took a group of two PGs (Mikaela and Maddie) and two juniors (Brendan and Ryan) on an extended hike on Sunday. We started out from Abol Campground and hiked up Abol trail to the Baxter Peak (Katahdin's highest point), hiked out the Knife's edge (a narrow ridge covered in rocks that extends east from Baxter Peak), down the Dudley Trail to Chimney Pond, where we stopped for lunch, up the Cathedral Trail, across the Cathedral Cut-Off trail to the top of Abol Trail and then down off the mountain on the Hunt Trail. Our route, which took us 9 hours (8 hours of actually moving time) to complete was 14.9 miles long. Katahdin is a very rocky mountain so once you're above tree line the going gets really slow because you have to pick and choose your route as you work your way over rocks of ALL sizes....
The ladies are all smiles after claiming the mansion-tent as their own!
Taking instructions from Amber and Seth before heading out for some swimming and a jog.
Max-I sat on the bread-Bartley. Oops!
Pre-jog and Swim...
The lake that the NEOC sits on. That's Katahdin in the background.
The boys jumping around on the dock...
Riley and Caleb take a break on their way up Abol Trail to enjoy the view...
We climbed the last little bit of the Abol slide with this guy and Maddie was all about his
Ryan brought a morph suit with him...
Looking in our intended direction of travel: clouds hide the Knife's Edge.
And then the clouds lifted a bit...
This was taken partway across the Knife's Edge. There is a steep decent followed immediately by a steep accent known as "The Chimney". We got stuck in The Chimney for a bit waiting for a group of French-Canadians to come down in the opposite direction.
Looking back after completing the Knife's Edge.
Looking back across the mountain from our decent down the Dudley Trail...
We came across this rock on our way down Dudley Trail...here's Mikaela absolutely in her element.
Our lunch spot at the bottom of the Katahdin bowl on the edge of Chimney Pond. I
I have no more pictures from the remainder of our hike. At lunch we were about 5 hours into our adventure and we had another accent immediately ahead of us on Cathedral trail, followed by the decent down the Hunt Trail. After descending the Dudley Trail most of us had pretty sore knees and were getting pretty tired. Cathedral was a test of concentration while we waited for lunch to kick in and make us feel better. Brendan and Ryan, our two junior team hikers were in for a bigger workout/OD than I think they had anticipated. Both had been psyched at the opportunity to join us ODT/PG teamers on a longer/faster hike, but none of us quite planned on nine hours of trail time (and we weren't exactly hiking slowly).
From Chimney Pond (our lunch spot) it took us another four hours to reach the car. It was interesting to watch both Ryan and Brendan pass through different mental phases of dealing with a much longer workout. At one point I was composing this blog post out loud and Brendan said that I would probably mention him being "a whiny little b%$#h". Honestly Brendan, you weren't too bad and I did truly enjoy watching you work through your frustrations and make a success of the day! Their phases went something like: "Why did I join the long group...so very, very stupid of me," to "This is NOT what they said it was going to be like," to "I just don't care anymore," to "I just got water! I LOVE water," to "Will is going to use this against me....every time I say I'm tired he'll say "but you hiked Katahdin TWICE"". And when minds wandered truly too far and started to get depressed at the 5+ miles still ahead of us seven hours into our hike, we reminded each other to toughen up occasionally by saying WWWSS? (What would Will Sweetser Say?....he'd say HTFU: Harden The F*%K Up.) We definitely had some interesting conversations in that last three hours and I believe that someone's phone holds a video of our delirium someplace on the side of Cathedral Trail....hopefully that video stayed locked in the confines that phone. Forever.
Until next time Katahdin...maybe three times up in one day will be the charm!