We woke up at 4 am on Thursday in our cozy cabin in Baxter State Park. We were planning an early hike to tackle Mount Katahdin and were holding out hope to also conquer the Knife's Edge Pass to Pamola Peak.
When I opened the van door to start packing up, I found that our loaf of bread (which had been wrapped in two layers of plastic) had been pulverized by a mouse! Our previously perfect loaf of bread had been torn into crumbled bits that looked like crumbled insulation. So we had to scratch it and adjust our lunch plans from sandwiches to leftovers. We never did find the culprit… we're hoping he both came in and left through some wiring hole in the bottom of the van somewhere.
The day went a little more smoothly after that.
There's a few things to know about Baxter State Park before you go:
1. It's a wilderness area. This means there are no paved roads, running water, cell phone service, or internet.
2. There is no shuttle service. So if you don’t want to do an out and back hike, you will need two vehicles and/or someone in your party that isn't hiking.
3. It can be cold and really windy even in the summer, so bring a winter jacket and gloves.
4. The park is huge and the roads are rough (Max speed limit of 20 mph), so it can take a long time to get anywhere. Think like an hour for 15 miles.
We had about a 30 minute drive on a rough gravel road from our campsite to the Katahdin Stream campground where we started our hike. We got there around 5 and even though the sun wasn't up yet, the moon was bright and we were able to see fairly well. There are multiple different paths up to Mount Katahdin, but we wanted to hike the AT and only had one vehicle, so we decided on an out and back on the Hunt Trail.
![blogPics](/static/img/178/sunrise.jpg "Sunrise on the trail")
The first mile up to Katahdin Falls was nice, easy walking.
![blogPics](/static/img/178/falls.jpg "Katahdin Falls")The next 1.5 miles started to get steep with a few sections of pure rock steps and some larger boulders to get around. But after that is when it started to get really… interesting.
We popped out of the woods and out on to some open boulder areas. The wind was roaring and we found ourselves on a completely exposed mountainside with some areas of vertical climbing/almost bouldering.
![blogPics](/static/img/178/hiding.jpg "Hiding behind rocks")
At one point the wind was so strong and the noise was so loud in my ears that the main thing it reminded me of was the noise of free falling when you're skydiving.
![blogPics](/static/img/178/climbing.jpg "Scrambling up rocks")
There was a short area where the mountain flattened out and we walked on a ridge before the second set of rock scrambling. The second set felt a little longer, but was more doable, albeit still extremely windy. I was really wishing I had a pair of gloves. Thankfully I had an extra shirt in my pocket that I was using as a hand muffler. It was around this point where we made the final decision that the Knife's Edge trail just wasn't in our future for the day. Here's what it looks like from the summit though:
![blogPics](/static/img/178/knifesedge.jpg "Knifes Edge trail") It was way too windy to attempt to make the narrow crossing.
After the second big climb we found ourselves on another, much larger ridge. ![blogPics](/static/img/178/mist.jpg "Walking along the ridge")
There was about a 1.5 miles to go up to the top of Baxter. As we walked the wind kept getting stronger and colder. My face was about frozen at this point.
We were passed by quite a few people that were finshing the AT that morning, which was super neat!
![blogPics](/static/img/178/summit.jpg "Almost there!")
The last portion up to the summit was another set of stairs, but no bouldering moves thankfully because my fingers were frozen by then. I was elated when we finally reached the summit, and found myself giving a yell off of the side of the mountain.
But it turned out that was not the most exciting part of the hike! As I crouched down to find shelter from the wind behind a big boulder, Kenny came over and asked me to stand up, and then he dropped to his knee and proposed! Just like that we got engaged on the top of the tallest peak in Maine and we are off on the biggest adventure together yet!
![blogPics](/static/img/178/top.jpg "On top of the world!")
Despite the excitement, we didn't hang out too long because it was freezing. We made our way back down the mountain as safely and quickly as we could to get out of the wind. We were stopped frequently by hopeful hikers still on their way up checking to ensure that the path was still safe and doable despite the wind.
We ended up making it back down around 1, in time to eat our lunch at the van, but with really sore legs. Kenny thinks this is the hardest hike we've ever done together (I would still say half dome was worse).
Afterward we left Baxter State Park and offically started our trip back south toward home. Our next step was Portland where we looked around the city, cleaned up the van, and grabbed some nice Ramen dinner to celebrate our engagement (which we ate in the back of the van on coolers because of COVID).
It was definitely one of the most memorable days of the trip so far.