The Katahdin Summit

Entering Baxter State Park

The northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail is the summit of Mount Katahdin. The mountain is sacred to the indigenous people of the area, and the park rangers speak of it and treat it with the utmost respect.

There is limited camping in the park, although 12 spots are reserved for hikers coming out of the 100 Mile Wilderness at the Birches shelter. When the hiking bubble arrives, 40 people or more may be jockeying for those 12 slots. The rangers will make every effort to accommodate the hikers, but in worse case scenarios, hikers may need to leave the park and try again the following day.

For several days before arriving at Baxter, everyone is trying to gauge how many hikers will arrive on the same day. The morning of day 95 I was up at 4AM to trek into Baxter. NatGeo and I were hikers 3 and 4, locking in our spots at the Birches. We would need to hike in another 10 miles to the campsite, and summit the following morning.

This was the view of Katahdin from the park entrance. It was shrouded in clouds, which is typical.

Day 93 – Cooper Brook shelter to Wadleigh shelter (21 miles) 

Day 94 – Wadleigh shelter to Hurd Brook shelter (20 miles) 

Day 95 – Hurd Brook shelter to the Birches shelter (13 miles) 

Day 96 – Summit Mount Katahdin (5 miles) 

The Birches

There’s a lot of tradition to staying at the Birches and I was happy and honored to be there. You need to understand that Katahdin is the final climb for many of the hikers, and this will be the last night on the trail. Here’s the team…

The players are NatGeo, Skins, Marlo, Story, Third Wheel, Jason, Propensity, Radar, Grit, Bear Man and Skip. We had a fun, super casual evening and everyone was ready to go the following morning.

Mount Katahdin

The day was perfect.  It was cool and clear, and even the top of the mountain wasn’t cloud covered.  Having conquered the White Mountains, I didn’t really believe those who said this mountain may be the most challenging on the AT, but it was no joke. This mountain is not for the weekend warrior.

The views from the top were spectacular.

The Final Summit

Everyone reacts differently to this final leg. Many are brought to tears, as their months-long journey finally reaches its conclusion.

For me, this wasn’t the end. As a flip-flopper, I will be heading south to hike the lower 864 miles of the trail.

While I was looking forward to this milestone, I’ve really been counting down the days. I just want to go home to spend some quality time with my wonderful wife, Pat. We’ll be celebrating our 30th anniversary!


This father-son team is Skins and Bear Man. They have been section hiking the trail for 11 years and just concluded.  Consider the dedication they have to each other. Living in Colorado and North Carolina, each breaks away from all other commitments for 2-3 weeks every year to be together.  My hat’s off to them.

And one team pic of the the group from the Birches.

I’ll be back in a few weeks to report on the southern portion of my hike.

Thanks for listening.

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Comments 3

  • Carol : Jul 31st

    CONGRATULATIONS on your hike! Happy anniversary!

  • Bigfoot91 : Aug 5th

    I don’t even remember this Birches campground when I finished my thru-hike in ‘91. Was it there then? I stayed at Katahdin Stream campground the night before with several of my fellow thru-hikers I had come to know through the adventure and we all shared a beautiful evening at the “Library” there in front of a cozy fireplace. Duster and Pusher, ZedBud, the Yorkshireman, Dr. Strange and I finished together on my 34th birthday, September 27, 1991.

  • Phil : Aug 27th

    Tommie, congrats on Phase 1. Good Luck as you begin the southern leg


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