Before the Appalachian Trail became too darned famous for its own good, in June 1978 my buddy Bob and I hatched a plan to take the overnight train from Montreal to Portland and get off in Greenville, Maine. From there we could get to Monson on the Appalachian Trail and hike north about 100 miles to Mt. Katahdin, where it was possible to return on the homeward bound train. A nice simple plan to go for a long hike in the woods, and with no need for a car or a ride to get there.
The only real difficulty here was hiking the 100 miles through the woods, carrying 10 days supplies. The food bag was so big it was astounding to see, and I think we even had extra food; however we ate it all and still lost a fair bit of weight during the trip. Later on I heard from various “authorities” that the Monson to Katahdin section is the absolute toughest part of the entire AT. When we arrived, worn out, at Baxter State Park, it was raining to beat hell, and freezing cold. This after a week of sweltering heat and horse flies as big as horses. At least there were no flies on Katahdin.
We existed on the remains of the food for two days, and when we finally got a break in the weather we had nothing left to eat but the crumbs of trail mix down at the bottom of the baggie. But off we went to bag the peak. We’d heard it was a tough climb, but it was ridiculous in the wintry conditions. We got to the upper bits, half frozen and weak from hunger, only to have a swirling fog blow in and obscure everything. Plus it was snowing lightly. Considering our weakened state, and the prospect of having to negotiate an infamous knife edge ridge to reach the peak, we regretfully called it a day. We saw no one that I can remember. It was beautiful.
Recently Katahdin has been in the news due to a minor uproar over the fact that some self righteous AT speed running “hero” got a $200 fine for creating a disturbance and drinking champagne with a party of friends to celebrate his conquest of the entire AT by the act of running it in record time. All I can say is, I’m glad I didn’t see him when we were there. Lucky for him too, or he would have got a Royal Canadian ass kicking before being tossed down a cliff.
2 responses to “Memories of Katahdin”
Such an interesting post with great pictures. One item on my bucket list is to hike part of the Appalachian Trail. The section near Shenandoah National Park is said to be do-able for novices.
Good for you – but if you are new to backpacking I’d recommend a few weekend hikes to get the hang of how it all works, what gear is absolutely essential, and what should be left at home!