Caratunk to Katahdin
Day 121 (August 7th)
Did a 18.8 mile day out of Caratunk. Another hard place to leave. The breakfast buffet with unlimited coffee started this day off right. We all soaked up as much wifi and electricity as we could before our 10AM shuttle. We saw Salmon, Squabbler, Shit To Do and Smoke Screen as we were exiting the bus. They were coming over on the morning canoe shuttle.
It was a really hard day for what I thought was an easy looking elevation profile. Some real big climbs followed by copious amounts of blueberries at the summits. Lighting has pioneered the maneuver of bringing the whole bush to his mouth. We figured that we would summit Katahdin in a week. Thought we could see it from the top of Moxie Bald mountain but can’t be sure.
Day 122 (August 8th)
Did an 18 mile day into Monson. We decided that before the 100 mile wilderness, everything needed to be right. Clothes clean as they could be, devices all juiced up and bodies should be well rested. Miles and I are staying at Shaws. By far one of the best hostels on the trail. Beer when we arrived and very very clear. Just a short walk from the best BBQ on the entire trail. I tried to kill myself with calories again.
Ready to get this thing done.
Day 123 (August 9th)
Did a 19.1 mile day to the cloud pond lean-to.
First of all, stay at Shaws. Poet and Hippie Chick really know how to run a hostel. Everything was very clean, the gear/food shop rivaled any hostel I have been in and the breakfast was phenomenal. The industrial kitchen enables Poet to cook up some mean home fries. Three of the largest Lodge cast iron skillets going at once. Pancakes that were blue with the amount of blueberries stuffed in them. They deserve all the through and section hikers they can accommodate.
It is sad news hearing that a guy I hiked with for so long had to get off trail. We had been separated since Hanover and learning that Poboy had to get off in Gorham is sad. Taking care of family comes first though. Got some fantastic trail magic at mile 16 of our hike today. This man has a cabin just .125 miles off trail and he was cooking burgers and giving out beer and soda. All I needed to get me up Barren Mountain. We talked for an hour about Maine, the paper industry and forestry. Fishing and the lobster business is what I loved talking about. He spends all summer and up to November 1 up here before he winterizes everything and heads further south in Maine. Another really hard day tomorrow with 24 miles to do. Last difficult day until Katahdin.
Day 124 (August 10th)
Did a banner day of 24 miles to the Logan Brook lean-to. Today was our last hard day until Katahdin. Went over White Cap and that 4 mountain range at the end of the day. Second day in a row where a massive climb has been at the end. It was all worth it though when I got to the north face of white cap. Got to see my first view of Katahdin. That is a damn imposing mountain with nothing surrounding it. Only 71.4 miles left until I summit.
Day 125 (August 11th)
Another big day of 23.1 miles to the Potaywadjo lean-to. This was the flattest trail I have walked so far. I did 11.5 miles before 11:30. A southbounder called this section the “red carpet to Katahdin.” The talks of rain turned up a my hustle after lunch.
Got here around 3:30 and a section hiker already had a fire going and there are some fantastic campsites. This shelter has the most pristine water source I have seen on this trail. It is a bubbling spring surrounded by white sand, and there are no particulates in the pool. Also the coldest water I have tasted.
Been raining since 2:30 or so today but I was lucky enough to set up my tent during a slight lull and my site has a nice pine canopy.
Day 126 (August 12th)
Did a 29.7 mile day to the Hurd brook lean-to.
Why such a massive day? Because it could be done due to the terrain but also Miles and I wanted a kind of rest day before Katahdin. We got a better look at the mountain today. From rainbow ledges, the clouds cleared and revealed Maine’s greatest mountain. So excited to summit that beast in 2 days.
Last night on the trail. Miles and I hit the trail early for an easy 3.7 to the Abol Bridge Camp Store. Solid spot for your snacking needs and for your beverages to pack out for Katahdin… Scott Jurek style.
The best view of the great mountain was crossing over the bridge to the campground. Clouds finally cleared and the whole climb came into view. Registering at the birches campsite needs to be done early. Miles and I were the first ones, but since it is open to people doing the 100 miles, then everybody gets a shot at the 12 spots. Weather is supposed to be great tomorrow. Let’s do this.
Made the final climb today. Did a 10.4 round trip up and down Katahdin. No amount of photos or words can describe that climb. Woke up around 5 to get an early start in front of the day hikers. The park gates open at 6AM and I was starting the climb at 6:20. It is a straight 4000+ elevation gain in just over 5 miles. Not the steepest climb, but one of the longest. But none of us cared. We were all in such good headspace, that none of these Boulder scrambles and rebar climbs frustrated us. The entire morning, Katahdin was shrouded by clouds and fog. Getting above treeline about halfway through is where the real challenge/fun began. The temperature dropped drastically and the wind was whipping from all directions. It reminded me a bit of Lehigh gap back in PA. Water was an interesting find on this mountain. A mile before the summit, there is Thorough springs which literally runs down the trail and comes out slightly off trail. Lightning, Pork Chop, Miles and I were hell bent on drinking straight out of the spring. No filter for these hikers. Except for Tick Tock, who can’t get enough of that sawyer water. Once you pass Thorough springs, the hard part is over. Still a mile of uphill, but the trail is rock hopping and so much fun till the summit. The clouds parted as we arrived at the top and I could see the sign. That famed sign where thousands of people have gotten their picture taken and celebrated their monumental journey. My time had come.
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