Mt Katahdin – getting there and getting up there
So the day of my departure had finally arrived. I was at Calgary airport with all of my possessions for the next 5-ish months in my backpack. Now it was time to catch three planes, a bus and a shuttle to the AT lodge in Millinocket, Maine.
The getting there
With all the issues people have been having recently with flights and luggage, I knew it was an outside chance that all my forms of transportation would line up. Due to delays with my baggage after my first flight, I was unable to check in for my second flight on time. This meant I ended up with an unplanned 13 hours at Toronto airport before being able to continue with my journey. Luckily, I had planned a free day in Millinocket prior to starting my hike, so I knew my start date would still be safe. With the delays, I arrived in Bangor airport 21 hours after I had left Calgary.
The next day I got some last minute supplies in Bangor (and also visited the Bangor Beer Co) before my bus and shuttle to Millinocket. I also met my first fellow through-hikers, which was pretty exciting.
It was less than 12 hours in Millinocket before I was being shuttled to Baxter State Park, the home of Mt Katahdin. There were 12 other hikers from the AT lodge summiting Mt Katahdin that day, so it was a big day for all of us.
After dropping off our backpacks and picking up our day packs for the day (excellent idea!) it was time to start this thing! My friend Tasha had driven out from Boston to hike the first day with me. and Once I had registered with the ranger, it was off to find my first white blaze of the many thousands of white blazes that mark the Appalachian Trail between Baxter Peak and Springer Mountain, Georgia. It was pretty surreal to see the blazes in person after seeing so many photos of them in my preparation.
The getting up there
Baxter Peak at the top of Mt Katahdin is the official northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. As this is the top of the mountain, the hike up does not technically count towards the total distance of the Appalachian Trail. However, there is no other way up, so there was nothing else to do but get up there! The climb up is 8km of about 1300m of elevation, with three distinct sections. The first is large rocks and tree routes. The second is large boulders (requiring some use of hands). The third is a relatively flat ridge line. I have been doing a fair amount of mountain climbing in Canmore, so the hike was fairly straightforward, although the Boulder section seemed to go on forever!
We were incredibly lucky with the weather, as it was blue skies, little cloud and no wind. I was nervous and excited in the lead up. However, once I started hiking, I felt calmer, as now it was just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. The views of the surrounding mountains and many lakes were beautiful, and there were no signs of civilisation in any direction. I got a photo at the top of the famous Katahdin sign, and then it was 8km down the mountain, for the first official 8km of the trail.
That night we camped at the base of Mt Katahdin. The next morning I said goodbye to Tasha and then it was time to start the long journey to Georgia.
(To be continued)
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