I Hiked from Bama to Baxter!
Bama➡️Baxter Day 169
Day 169: 10 miles
Last night I got some of the best sleep that I’ve gotten in months! It felt incredible. The guys and I woke up around 6am and got our things packed up. Then we set out to begin the 5 mile climb up to Katahdin! The feeling was so surreal.
The first 2 miles leaving the birches were super easy. The ascent was gradual and the terrain wasn’t technical at all. I kept thinking about the fact that all of the elevation gain for the climb was now being consolidated into a 3 mile stretch. It was going to be a good climb for sure. Once we were a little over 2 miles in the real fun began. I began having to navigate around large boulders. Pulling myself up and around them. It was technical but not anything too crazy. I would compare that next mile to the climb up maybe Mt Moosaulake.
After a while though the climb really began. The terrain changed drastically and became almost entirely rock climbing. Once you got above tree line it was all rock the whole rest of the way it seemed. At one point there was an entirely flat rock face with just one rebar handle to grab onto. You had to pull yourself up about 3-4 feet using the bar. Then rest your foot on a small rebar ring which was smaller then my hand. I think that portion freaked me out the most. The fall out there if you had lost your footing was deadly. But I pulled myself up and kept on going.
When I navigated a few more sketchy rocks and things and turned the corner I ran into a couple hikers. The young woman was bawling her eyes out. She must have been afraid of heights. I tried to let them pass but then they let me know that they were also going up. My thoughts were with her for sure. Hopefully the sketchiest areas were behind us.
The next mile or so was non stop rock climbing using your hands. We were pretty much scaling up the rocky spine of this mountain heading up towards Katahdin. For some reason I was still holding my trekking poles in my hands! Eventually I found a good place to stop where I could safely take my pack off. And I finally put the poles away.
I really enjoyed the rocky scramble up to the top. It was fun having to use your hands to grab rock and literally pull yourself up. There were times when I had to lift one of my feet up past my chest and then push off that foot to lift my whole body up. It felt like I was literally rock climbing, but with my whole pack on. Because we also didn’t slack pack up! We couldn’t resist being bold and carrying our whole packs up.
After a long while of rock climbing I got to the gateway to Katahdin. And from there the terrain actually calmed down a lot. There was over a mile of just walking past that point. It was a great break from the technical terrain for sure. The views were beautiful and the trail followed along Thoreau Spring for a bit.
Towards the end as I was in the last half mile before Katahdin there was a bit more elevation gain. But nothing too major. I kept thinking about how I was feeling. Honestly I just sort of felt like we were climbing Mount Washington again at first. I was shocked that I didn’t feel anything at all about this final climb of the AT. But then the clouds rolled out and I saw it. I could see the wooden Katahdin sign in the distance and all the hikers gathered around it. Then it really set in. I’m here, I made it
I moved quickly up to the sign were Sweet Pea, Boosted, and Roxy were already sitting. There were a few other hikers there that we had met recently too. Everyone was so happy! Laughing, taking pictures, and enjoying the absolutely amazing views that we had. It was truly a perfect day to summit.
The guys took my pictures with the sign and then Boosted hollered, “Bama to Baxter!” and it filled me with such an exhilarating feeling. I did it. Back on February 25th I set out to walk from Alabama to Baxter state park. And here I am on August 12th! 5 months and 2 weeks later.
We all sat up there for a while and took more photos. And while we were sitting to my surprise we saw more familiar faces! It was Chowder and Bambi! Originally I had thought that they were going to summit the 13th but they must have changed their plans because of weather. It was nice to see them one last time.
Around 10:30am we began our descent off the mountain. I couldn’t believe that it was over. We only had 5 miles to go down and then we were finished with the AT entirely. On the hike down we passed by Cookie Monster and Lawsuit. It was great to see them too! And when we came to the junction for the Abol trail we opted to take that rather than the Hunt trail. We took the hunt up, but I really didn’t want to take it back down. The Abol is supposed to be a bit steeper but apparently easier.
The trail was super steep but there was much less fall out for sure. You weren’t as exposed as on the hunt. We took our time and slowly descended. It took much longer than I had expected but that was ok.
By 1pm we were down at the Abol campground and waiting for our ride out of Baxter. Boosted’s parents flew up and got a rental car so they were going to pick us all up and bring us into Millinocket. They arrived and Roxy was so happy to see them! It’s like part of her knew that they were coming to take her home. Her mission had been accomplished. That dog is an absolute legend. She hiked the entire goddamn trail!
On our way into town we stopped off at a pub and Boosted’s parents treated us to lunch. I had one of the best burgers of the whole trail! Then we sat down by the lake which had amazing views of Katahdin in the distance. It was wild to look up at that mountain, which we were just on top of 4 hours ago.
After we ate Boosted’s parents drove us into Millinocket. Then we said our sad goodbyes to Boosted and Roxy. I can’t believe that this is it. We won’t be seeing each other for a long while probably. It was such a sad scene. Then it was just 2 left. Sweet Pea would be heading out tomorrow with his dad and then I would be on my own.
His dad put us up in a motel in town called the Paloma. We checked in and I wound up hand washing a lot of my clothing. I can’t do laundry here and I don’t know when I’ll get to do it next. Then I dried my tent out and sorted through my things. Later on I showered and then called my mom. It was a funny scene because Sweet Pea is totally done now with hiking, but I still have to resupply once again. That was so damn weird.
We went to the grocery store and I resupplied enough for the next 40-50 miles. Then we ordered Chinese food from the place next door to the motel. When his dad arrived we all had a drink or two at the bar. Then we came back to the room and called it a night. Tomorrow I have another full day of hiking ahead of me. And everyone else gets to begin their rest period.
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