Katahdin and The 100-Mile Wilderness

Katahdin Was…

Exciting, invigorating, scary, fun, and tiring. It is a 10.4 mile round trip from Katahdin Stream Campground (KSC) to Baxter Peak with a 4179 feet elevation change. There are intimidating near-vertical climbs up boulders and rock faces. Not to mention dramatic and rapid weather changes.

New Friends and Acquaintances

On the way up Katahdin, I met several folks who shared the ascent with me.  The first person I met was Rapunzel (trail name). She passed me while I was finishing a snack about half way up. She stayed ahead of me most of the way up until we caught up to Steve and his through-hiker fiancee, Dragon. When we got to the more difficult part of the climb, I helped Rapunzel and Dragon helped Steve. Shortly after that most difficult section,  Old Timer caught up with us and the five of us reached the summit at about the same time.

Hailstorm

As we approached the summit, clouds were rapidly building. It was interesting to see the vapor from the lowland sweep up the mountain and coalesce into thunder clouds. We took obligatory photos,  had a quick lunch, put on our rain gear, and headed back down the mountain.

The thunder was rumbling (no lightening was hitting the ground) and it started raining,  then 1/4-inch hail started pelting us. I could feel the pellets stinging my cheeks through my rain hood. There was so much hail that it accumulated on the ground and made the gray rock look white.

We all made it down safely, and back at KSC, the weather was calm and clear.

 The 100-Mile Wilderness

On Day 2, I hiked south from KSC. The boundary of Baxter State Park is 9.3 miles from KSC. I hiked 13.4 miles to the 1st AT lean-to at mile 18.6 measured from Baxter Peak.

Memorable Moments

Day 2

I met Skippy Jon Jones. He is a yo-yo, hiking the AT in both directions continuously.  He passed me on day 2, headed north. Then on my day 10, he passed me again on his southbound hike.

Day 5

Old Timer and I are about the same age and on about the same schedule, so we have struck a friendship. He has a good sense of humor.  On this day, we ended up at the lean-to at the same time as Early Riser, a northbounder. After exchanging trail names,  Early Riser said, “Are you two married?” Old Timer quickly replied, “No, we just met on Katahdin June first.” At which point, I cracked up laughing. Early Riser said, “I didn’t mean to each other.” We then explained that his wife and my wife are in Mississippi and Florida, respectively.

Day 6

Old Timer and I got to the lean-to and started a fire to ward off swarming insects, mosquitoes and dreaded black flies. Ethan arrived later and sat near the smoky fire. He was covered with bug bites. His ankles did not have room for another bite. His face, neck, and arms were covered with bites.  Ethan said he didn’t have a trail name.

A while later two more guys showed up saying, “Hey Bug Bait, glad to see you made it.” My comment to Ethan: “So you do have a trail name and just did not want to ‘fess up.

Guide Miles vs Country Miles

Look up country mile, and there is not a specific distance, just that it is a long distance. All of the mileages that I have mentioned are trail miles based on Awol’s AT Guide. I think the guide’s miles must be city miles, like 5280 feet. On the trail, I’m not hiking city miles, I’m hiking country miles, so I came up with a conversion factor.

Based on the guide, I hiked 119.7 miles over a 12-day period, about 10 miles per day. According to my Fit Bit, I took more than 406,000 steps or about 192 miles.

Why the difference? When hiking, I’m stepping over roots, walking around boulders and fallen trees, and avoiding all manners of obstacles, stepping up, stepping down, and in some instances taking baby steps.

For me, 1 country mile equals 1.6 city miles. Skippy Jon Jones has a lower ratio.

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Comments 7

  • Katherine Abel : Jun 15th

    Loved reading this, Dad.

    Reply
    • Thomas Caracciola : Jun 18th

      Thank you for the article it was interesting. I feel like am in the shape to hike a few miles a day with no pack, but being able to hike that much a day with minimal blisters and aches is very impressive. Thank you for the article.

      Reply
  • Sara : Jun 15th

    Wow! Great post, love your descriptive words and look forward to seeing some photos of the amazing sights you’ve seen!

    Reply
  • Terry Brigman : Jun 15th

    Thanks for letting us travel with you Tom.
    Stay healthy and have fun.
    T.

    Reply
  • 3rd Wheel : Jun 18th

    We met Skippy Jon Jones while staying at Mountain Home Cabin in Front Royal. My money has been on him to do an early turn-around. I hope to see him again. He is a beast!

    Reply
  • Brian : Jun 18th

    Thanks for sharing. I’m setting off July 7 so I doubt I will catch you, but I’ll look for you in the log books!

    Reply
  • Mike Underwood : Jun 20th

    I envy your adventure, Tom, from back home in Tallahassee and join the other commenters in thanking you for your evocative trail notes. I hope you’ll keep it up, the writing that is, stay healthy and finish your project seasonably. Do you have plans for the solar eclipse on August 21?

    Reply

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