| Mt. Katahdin x3
My wife's dad is from Maine, so a visit to them every summer happens annually. I had not climbed any of the peaks of the Eastern US, so I was getting the itch to do some hiking during our next visit. I decided against Mt. Washington because of the road-to-the-top factor. It seemed it would be like visiting Colorado, having only one peak to climb, and hiking up Pikes Peak to find a snack shop and a parking lot at the top, and wondering why there were so many people on top. I could not honestly recommend Mt. Washington to someone, so on to other possibilities.
I was talking to my father in law at Christmas-time about fun peaks to climb, when he mentioned he climbed the knife edge on Mt. Katahdin in the 60's. He said it was a fabulous climb, and that I should go do it this summer. Sounds good to me. I did some research on permits and camping in the area. The Baxter State Park website does a good job of explaining the rules. There are some new regulations about day use, mainly that you can now reserve a day use parking spot for a specific parking area through the internet for a specific day for $5. If you are a Maine resident, you have first pick. Non-residents can reuqest a parking permit 3 weeks out. If one "camps" out at the entrance gate in the AM of the day you want to hike, you could theoretically not get a parking permit for a specific parking area even if you are first in line, especially on a weekend in August.
I applied for a camping permit for Chimney pond for 3 days and 2 nights to decrease the chance of being turned back by bad weather. You can apply for a permit 4 months in advance, so I put in several midweek dates in hopes of getting one of the highly sought out permits for a lean-to at Chimney pond. A couple of weeks later, I had the elusive permit in hand. The lean-to sleeps 4 people, so who should I invite? The obvious choice was my father in law. Ugh, ya. I was nevous and apprehensive about it. He was 75 years old, not in bad shape, but I felt like was totally responsible for his safety. My wife reminded me to not worry too much about it and decide about the actual climb once we were at Chimney pond. She also reminded me that if I worried about climbing a peak in CO that far in advance, the weather, route, partners, gear, etc., I would not have summited very many peaks. It would be a great male bonding experience. So the climbing party consisted of my father in law Bob, his friend Brad, and me.
We made the drive up to Baxter State Park, drove to Roaring Brook campground, and started the 3.3 mile hike up to Chimney pond with 1500' of elevation gain. The trail was rough by CO standards.
Moose just off the trail
The trail had lots of large sized boulders to negotiate. The trails were built in the 1930's. Over time the trail has been washed away down to the boulders below. Check out the backpacks in use
We got to Chimney pond around 4:30 in the afternoon.
My father in law was concerned that he would hold me back from summiting Mt. Katahdin. I reiterated that I would stay with him during our summit attempt whether we got to the top or not, and assured him that we had 3 days to climb the peak, and that I would manage it sometime. He was not convinced, so I decided to take a quick "hike" up the 2350' to scout out the saddle trail to the summit that evening to ease his nervousness. 51 minutes later the deed was done. Now we could all relax. The temp was in the 50's, but the humidity made it feel like 80 degrees!
We woke up to rain during the night. Morning came without rain, but the top half of the peak was in the clouds. No forecast for thunderstorms, and clearing late in the afternoon was the report from the daily weather report from the resident ranger. We decided to hike up to the saddle and see how we felt and what conditions are like. We signed in at the ranger station and started hiking.
The going was tough climbing up the saddle trail, requiring the use of hands every once in a while.
Half way there and into the clouds. Soon it started raining steady, whith a 10 mph wind. Everyone was a trooper, so we decided to push on.
The trail was easy to follow in the clouds.
We were all happy to reach the summit. It was great to be up here with Bob.
Looking down the saddle trail from the col. Note the clothes being worn by the hiker. It was amazing the lack of rain gear worn by people we passed on the way down that were hiking up. Maybe 2 out of 10 had any raingear at all, and no one had rain pants. Most people were soaked and shivering that we saw, but they all continued on. Were we just wimps?
The weather cleared up that afternoon for a picture after the climb with Chimney pond and Mt. Katahdin in the background. Summit is right of center.
Typical lean-to at the campground. Everything stayed dry during the rains. I'm glad we only had 3 people, 4 would have been a tight fit.
Another view with Pamola peak on the left. There were very few bugs, only a couple of mosquitoes. Sleeping was no problem with the bugs. No one got bit during the night sleeping in the open. Night time lows were only in the high 50s. The 20 degree bag was overkill. I slept with it as a quilt, and was quite warm.
If you did not tip the ranger, you got the hook. Not really, but a serious bear line. Food bags were put up with an ominous looking device at the end of a long pole. The ranger was awesome. He gave you information on the routes, without bias, and encouraged you to climb the route you wanted.
The sign says it all. We did not see or hear any bears. There was a resident moose though.
The next day, Brad and I decided to tackle the knife edge, seen here from Chimney pond.
We ascended the Dudley trail to Pamola peak. the first half of the "trail" went up several refrigerator sized boulders, requiring several class 3 moves.
We got to the top of Pamola peak without too much difficulty. The knife edge starts on the top of Pamola, traverses through a notch to Chimney peak, on to South peak, then to Mt. Katahdin.
The Dudley trail ascends the ridge to Pamola from Chimney pond. You can see the notch between Pamola and Chimney peak, which is the crux of the route.
View of the downclimb of Pamola taken from Chimney peak. Class 4.
Brad climbing up more 4th class to Chimney peak.
New England route finding? The route was marked with blue dots spray painted on the rocks every 30-50 feet marking the entire route. This is the first route I have done with painted route markings. Kind of weird. I guess we have the bullseyes on Longs though.
Looking back at Chimney Peak and Pamola.
One of the more exposed sections.
Typical rock during the traverse. After climbing through the crux notch, most of the route was class 2 with an occasional class 3 move. The rock was super solid. There were lots of fins orientated vertically, but they were all solid. Not one of the blocks even shifted during the 27" rock hop to Katahdins summit.
View of the knige edge from the summit. I walked back to meet Brad, then we worked our way back to Katahdin. Except for the climing in the notch, the knife edge traverse was very reasonable, solid rock, not very steep, and relatively not too much exposure.
Another summit shot.
View of the surrounding lakes and ponds. I tried to find out the difference between a lake and pond by Maine standards. The consensus from people on the summit was that it had nothing to do with the actual size of the body of water, rather it was just a matter of what the person who named it decided to call it, a pond or a lake. The views were spectacular. The weather was one of the best 5 days of the year, according to locals, and the number of people on the summit. We met a couple of people that were finishing through hiking the Appalachian trail that finishes on the summit of Katahdin.
We stayed on top for 2 hours, enjoyed lunch, then descended the Cathedral trail. More class 2-3 downclimbing with spectacular views.
We got back to camp, relaxed for a while, packed up and hiked out. There were several bridges that went over the numerous creek crossings. We got to watch a bull moose swim across one of the basin ponds. Impressive.
Climbing Mt. Katahdin was a great experience, I highly recommend it. Any questions or beta on the climbing are more than welcome.
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