Mt. Katahdin (Baxter Peak), ME (08/08/08)

August 14, 2008 at 2:51 pm 1 comment

Following a couple of big wet hikes in New Hampshire, I ventured off to Maine for the rest of my week off to play with some of my toys… mountain bike, motor bike, camping gear, and my almost-dried-off hiking boots. I dragged another friend out for this part of my trip, since my earlier hiking buddies were now wise to my ways and weren’t likely to follow me up anymore hills anytime soon.

The destination this time was Mount Katahdin, the highest point in Maine and the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.

By researching this hike in advance I learned that you have to get to the park early. They only allow a certain number of cars into the park each day and people are lined up and waiting to get in when the gates open at 5am. I called the park early in the week to see what I should expect on a Friday and was told “well, Friday is forecast to be the worst weather this week, so you should be able to get in okay … yesterday (Monday) was a bit rainy and we didn’t fill up until 7:30am.” Great.

I’d love to say that the forecast early in the week was a bad guess, that the weather improved as the week went on, and that I had some great views to photograph from the summit. But I can’t.

We woke up at 5am to the sound of a hard rain hitting our tent. We quickly agreed that the park was not going to fill up in a hurry on this morning and we stole another hour of sleep. A short drive to Baxter State Park and we were checked in at the Ranger Station, geared up and on the trail by 7:30am. The route took us 3.3 miles along the Chimney Pond Trail to Chimney Pond Campground to check in with the next Park Ranger. This was our view from that point…

We had a light rain at this point and the Ranger advised us that the temperature on the summit was around 40 with wind chills in the 30’s. He asked us our planned route… I told him our plan, he suggested and alternate decent, then said that we looked better prepared than most people he had let go up that morning and wished us luck… I realized what he meant about our preparation when we passed people hiking up in jeans and cotton t-shirts.

For the next phase of the hike, we ascended the Saddle Trail, a fairly steep hike that involves some scrambling over boulders for 1.2 miles until you reach the ridge line to the summit, then a more gradual incline for 1.0 miles to the Baxter Peak summit (5267′)… the high point of Mount Katahdin and the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. It was here that I enjoyed my summit cheeseburger, but due to the inhospitable weather (rain, wind, cold, cloud) I didn’t even wait for the AT thru-hiker to get away from the sign after having his picture taken before I snapped my photographic evidence and quickly scarfed down my cheeseburger from the House of Pizza in Millinocket. (My hiking buddy, Trevor, declined my offer to carry a cheeseburger for him.)

Descent from the summit took us past the South Peak (0.3 miles) and along the Knife Edge Trail past Chimney Peak to Pamola Peak (0.8 miles) where we picked up the Helen Taylor Trail to return to the parking lot (3.3 miles). This was the view from the Knife Edge Trail…

The Knife Edge is an awesome trail… in the sense that you’ll be awed by it, which doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll like it. The ridge drops off at a sharp angle in both directions. The trail is nothing but jagged boulders that we were scrambling over on all fours at times due to the high wind and wet rocks. At the far end of the trail from the Baxter Peak is a sign that warns hikers not to cross the trail in bad weather… I would have taken a picture of that sign except for the bad weather which prevented me taking my camera out of my bag or even stopping so I wouldn’t get too cold.

The total hike was 9.9 miles with a total ascent of about 4000′. According to several sources, the average person takes 9-10 hours for this hike… we did it in 7 hours… just didn’t find myself stopping for photos too often due to the weather I guess! Judging by some other photos I’ve seen, it’s a beautiful park, and as I look over my trail map, I can see at least 5 other summit cheeseburger opportunities on the mountain, so maybe someday, when the weather is a bit better, a return trip will be planned.

Although we passed several summits, only one summit cheeseburger was consumed.


(note regarding the Maine summits page: there are two separate listings for the same peak… Mt. Katahdin and Baxter Peak are the same summit, despite the different elevations listed, which are both different than the trail map, which shows the summit at 5267′, 1605m)


Entry filed under: Maine Summits.

Cannon Mountain, NH (8/4/2008) Mt. Agamenticus, ME (8/10/2008)

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. sirloinofbeef  |  August 23, 2008 at 6:37 am

    Nice post KB. I’ve always wanted to get up to Katahdin – but haven’t. And while I’m impressed with your feat, what’s up with Trevor? Doesn’t everybody want a cold cheeseburger in the morning?

    Just got back from NY where I made it up Mt. Marcy. Similar views of fog. Post coming soon, I hope.



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The Mission

To encourage, enable, and document the consumption of a Cheeseburger on every summit on earth.
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