Baldacci takes a hike

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MILLINOCKET (AP) – Gov. John Baldacci says he may have gotten a little wet and the view was foggy, but his first hike up Maine’s tallest mountain was still an experience “like no other.”

Baldacci this week hiked the mile-high Mount Katahdin with his son Jack and several others. He is the first sitting Maine governor to make the climb since Gov. Kenneth Curtis did it in 1968, according to Baxter State Park officials.

Accompanied by park rangers, conservationists and a few members of his administration, the governor and his son hiked the 3.3 miles into the Chimney Pond campground Tuesday afternoon. After camping overnight, Baldacci’s hiking party got an early start the next day up and reached Baxter’s peak by the Saddle Trail. The group made it back to Chimney Pond before noon Wednesday.

Baldacci said it was special to him to make the hike with his son. Even though the fog turned to rain before the hikers reached the summit, Baldacci said he accomplished something he always wanted to do.

“It might be a little wet and a little foggy, but it is still an experience like no other,” he said.

The group spent about 20 minutes at the summit of the mountain, where temperatures were estimated to be in the 50s and wind gusted up to 40 mph.

An average of 70,000 people have visited Baxter State Park each year for the past decade, and about 26,000 people register to hike on one of the five Katahdin trailheads each year. the state park said.

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