Mark and I made Abol Bridge with time to spare. We stood before the great mountain. The surrounding terrain is relatively flat and Katahdin rises supreme. From where we stood it dominated the horizon. Our excitement was peaking, this was one hell of a way to end this journey! We met up with Mark’s girlfriend, made arrangements to meet her inside Baxter State Park then Mark and I slackpacked the remaining 7 miles to Daicey Pond Campground. We spent our last night on the Appalachian Trail under the roof of the campground’s shelter.
Good weather on Katahdin is not common but on that final day we had perfect weather. We hurried to the base of the grand peak and excitedly began our ascent. In no time at all we had some altitude and the breathtaking views were intoxicating. The air was crystal clear with the visibility seemingly infinite. It was easy to see why the prehistoric natives of this region felt Kette-Adene, a native American word meaning “greatest mountain”, was a sacred place. There was some serious scrambling on the way up and we paid for the quick altitude gain with an exhausting climb. We neared the top, stopping at Thoreau Spring for a refreshing quaff from the pristine high altitude water source. We were within a mile of the summit, the end of the Appalachian Trail.
We hiked on up Katahdin in a high altitude daze. This mountain seemed far higher than it really was. The treeless ridgewalk to the summit looked more like a ridge in Nepal. Even though the wind had picked up a bit, it was unnaturally warm for the end of September especially at the top of the tallest mountain in Maine. We have been served a class A day on the summit and we weren’t complaining!
We reached the summit and the champagne came out of the pack. A celebration was in progress. The popped cork launched skyward and Mark and I drank deeply from the foaming magnum. A flood of emotions; happiness, sadness, emptiness and triumph. Our epic was over. No longer would the Trail determine our direction. Once we left the summit and down the mountain via the “Knife Edge”, the white blazes were no longer painted on the rocks. The path we hiked toward our rendevous with our ride home was simply a trail. The Appalachian Trail was behind us now and the real world awaited our return.
…continue the expedition, read: Back In The Real World [link]