[at-l] 20 years ago today...

Mark Hudson mvhudson at gmail.com
Sun Aug 19 18:08:21 CDT 2012

I climbed Katahdin...

8/19: Millnocket – KATAHDIN!!!!!
    Have to start with last night first... a bull moose put in an
appearance in the field near the shelters at dusk, moose #5 and the last.
Went up to the pond shortly after that to check out Katahdin and the the
sky, found Harley sitting by the pond. Sat and just enjoyed life for a bit.
A loon called and seemed to say that today would be all right. Harley and I
discussed the “sunrise” climb and realized that we would have to start at
11:30pm, so we changed our plans to getting up about 4am for an early
start. Well, I don't know what time it started raining but it was still
going when the alarm went off, so it was the old roll over and go back to
sleep routine. When I finally rolled out of the shelter at 6am it was blue
sky and a half moon overhead. I made a quick jog up to the pond to check
the “Katahdin visibility”, it was hanging there over the pond in all it's
glory. I ran back to the shelter, it was “Harley get your gear, we're
going!” Pushed off at 6:30, must have been a half awake adrenalin rush,
Harley said later that we covered the 2.4 miles to the Katahdin Stream
Campground in 39 minutes, and it didn't seem as if we were hiking that fast
at all. It was definitely an adrenalin rush all the way up the mountain; we
only stopped long enough to shove food in and drink some water. Very
interesting rock climbing up to Hunt Spur, a mini-Mahoosic Notch rock-hop.
Broke through that and some more rock hopping up to the Gateway, then a
nice cruise down the Tableland. All this hiking under warm sun with
fantastic views, especially of Katahdin in front of us as we came down the
Tableland. We were running this climb through a predicted weather window, a
“rabbit hole”, and we could see the clouds of the next front moving in as
we went along. The last climb on the approach to Baxter Peak, I couldn't
stop myself anymore and broke into a run the last 150 feet to the Katahdin
sign, whooping and hollering and planting a big kiss on the sign. Then it
was popping champagne and picture taking, orange juice and bagels and cream
cheese and hanging out in the sun, dayhikers and questions and sitting in
the sun giggling with Harley. Still the approaching weather front moved in,
but it was as if we had an unspoken agreement with Pamola that no rain
would fall until we were off the rocks and below treeline. Heidi went off
exploring the Knife's Edge while I sat in the sun on the summit, and the
first clouds of the weather front blew in over the ridge, did it bring
“good medicine” or a sign from Pamola? In the mist of the front soared a
raven, riding the currents of the ridge, surely it was a sign. When Harley
returned we began our long descent, stopping one last time at the Gateway
to try to suck in some more of Katahdin. Long jungle-gym rock drop down
Hunt Spur, and sure enough on breaking into treeline it started to rain. No
complaint, Pamola kept to the bargain. Easier going below treeline, made
good time back to Katahdin Stream Campground and then on to Daicey Pond.
The loons greeted our return as they had signaled our departure, with their
eerie calls echoing over the pond. Arrived at the shelter, wet but happy,
we found Mailman and Military Mike just in from their wilderness trip.
Harley and I planned to spend the night at the shelter, but word soon
arrived that the Mailman's wife was on the way and we could get a ride into
Millnocket, and a sure ride is something that you don't pass up. Quickly
packed gear and headed up to the library/pond/parking lot to await the
ride, a long wait as she took a wrong turn. While we waited though Pamola
had one last gift for us, for the sun broke through the clouds and left
what could be seen of Katahdin under a rainbow; I can't think of a better
way to leave the trail.
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