I had a fantastic four days in Baxter State Park - it is one of my favorite places and this trip just made me love the place that much more. This report is long, but is going to be heavy on pictures and light on words, or at least that is my plan.
Erin and I met in Millinocket after work and got to the Roaring Brook Campground at around 7 or so. It was getting dark and we wandered around aimlessly looking for our lean-to for a while. Nothing can confuse a couple of foresters more than a bunch of signs telling them where to go.
Home sweet home, Roaring Brook
Eventually we found our lean-to settled in and had some dinner. We hadn't seen each other for a long time, years actually, but it was like we had just seen each other last week. We talked late into the night and eventually our conversation drifted off to sleep.
Day 1 - hike to Russell Pond
I woke up, stepped outside the lean-to and saw this guy
I am pretty bad at getting pictures of anything that moves, sorry this is blurry.
We had breakfast, packed up, threw what we didn't need in the truck (including my keys), and started searching frantically for my keys. I eventually gave up and said I had a spare set. I figured I packed them away by accident. We headed to Russell Pond ~ 7.5 miles.
The hike was fairly flat and easy, with a few small stream crossings that had bog bridges over them.
We knew there was a bigger stream crossing over Wassataquoik Stream that we would probably have to take off our boots to cross. When we got there, we searched around for rock hopping possibilities and finally decided we had to suck it up, take off our boots (we didn't want 3 more days of wet boots), and walk across. I went barefoot, Erin was smart and brought some Crocs.
Wassataquoik Stream Crossing
From the crossing it is only about a half mile or so to Russell Pond. There is a scale there to weigh your packs, which is really cool. Erin's pack weighed 45 pounds!! Mine only weighed 40, so we decided Erin is way tougher than I am.
We found our campsite, got our tent set up, re-fueled and relaxed for a few minutes.
Home sweet home, Russell Pond
We had gotten there fairly early, and the park has an awesome program where you can rent canoes for $1/hour or $8/day, all based on the honor system. We rented a canoe and cruised around Russell Pond for a few hours. The rain had mostly held off and a thick fog surrounded the mountains, but it was still really cool.
Day 2 - hike to Davis Pond
We woke up to a clear beautiful day. We were excited to get to Davis Pond, Maine's most remote campsite (~ 6-7 mile hike from Russell).
This guy started grunting, so we started moving along
One of many small stream crossings
The hike to Davis Pond is beautiful, I would call it a moderate hike with some stream crossings and some slippery granite slick rock/slides to climb as you approach Lake Cowles and Davis Pond. This place is worth every effort, it is pretty amazing. A lot of people don't realize the awesome stuff Maine has to offer, and I think if you were to show someone who didn't know a few of the following shots (especially the stuff from Day 4), they wouldn't guess it was Maine.
Erin looking at Lake Cowles
Davis Pond (and my toes at the bottom of the pic)
Home sweet home, Davis Pond
Coming up out of Davis Pond
Hiking the ridge line on North Peaks Trail
North Peaks Trail, looking toward Davis Pond
The North Peaks Trail go over the northern peaks of Katahdin. It is an out and back trail, and on the way out, it was pretty foggy. Walking into the mist is a pretty neat feeling. Things started clearing up as we headed back along the trail toward Hamlin Ridge.
Katahdin looking toward Pamola Peak and Knifes Edge
Erin pointing at Knifes Edge
Me on top of Hamlin Ridge
Hamlin Ridge Trail
Chimney Pond from Hamlin Ridge
We talked to a few people on the way down Hamlin Ridge who told us it was going to rain and that we "better bring our raincoats" if we planned on summitting Katahdin. We are not easily dissuaded, and we talked to the ranger at Chimney who basically said the same thing and that there was a 50% chance of rain. Erin looked at me and said, "Well, then that means there is a 50% chance of sun!" I agreed.
We decided on a 3:30am wake up to try to catch the sunrise on Baxter Peak.
Home sweet home, night #4
Day 4 - Early Summit, Knifes Edge, and home
We were up before the alarms, and the wind was really howling, but it wasn't raining. We got packed up and ready to roll. The plan was to leave the heavy packs at Chimney Pond and summit light on gear, and pick the packs up on the way back.We were on the Cathedral Trail by 3:45 am.
My headlamp was giving me some trouble, it would go off after about 5 seconds. It was beyond annoying. The Cathedral Trail is the most direct route to the top, requiring some bouldering type climbing. It is a ton of fun until your headlamp craps out. Anyway, I would turn it back on to see my hand hold, get the hold, turn it back on, get the foot hold...it was interesting. Erin helped the best she could by climbing then turning and lighting things up for me with her headlamp. As we got closer to the summit, we got into a thick mist which was kind of neat. By 5:45 or so we were very close to the top and we didn't need headlamps anymore thankfully.
6am summit - in the mist
We decided to go ahead with our plans to hike Knife's Edge despite the fact that we were in a thick mist. That was the best decision we made all day.
The mist starting to clear
Erin posing with a cairn near Knifes Edge
Mist rolling off Baxter Peak
Looking down on Chimney Pond from Knifes Edge
Part of the Knifes Edge trail, climbing to Chimney Peak
Me and the Knifes Edge
Erin and I, mist rolling off Baxter Peak
Dudley Trail down to Chimney
We were back down to Chimney Pond via the Dudley Trail by around 9:30am, and we noticed that lots of people were just signing the register to start their climb. We grabbed our packs and got going, we had another 3 miles to hike to get back to the truck. It went by rather quickly. We met a lot of people on the trail, something that hadn't happened to us for most of the trip, but we were both so happy to have gotten to experience what we did.
We were back to Roaring Brook before noon. Once at the truck, I unlocked it (with the spare key - remember, I had somehow lost my keys at the beginning of the trip) and dug around for my change of clothes. In the pocket of the jeans I had packed away were my keys. Ha. I guess at least they were safe.
I took Erin back to her car, and as we were trading gear around, it started raining. We both looked up for a second, mouths open, then looked at each other and smiled.