I climbed Mt. Katahdin on Sept. 11. We went directly from school onto a four and half hour drive up north to our campground. We set up and I quickly fell asleep. I really don’t remember that night.

Wakey wakey! Everybody was up the next morning at exactly 6:30 a.m. I still had no idea what I had gotten myself into.

Bruce loaded us into the back of his truck; a short drive and we came to the entrance gate. After group pictures and equipment checks we entered the trail head.

A decision was quickly made to hike the first leg of the trail to Chimney Pond via the Chimney Pond Trail. This was an easy little 3.3 mile jaunt through the boulder fields and small ravines. It was also very scenic. There were spots where you could actually see Katahdin ahead of you. This little excursion was moderately tough at 3.3 miles, but the 2.5 mile scream up sixty degree pitches of rock was the ultimate challenge.

Everybody in the end met up at Chimney Pond. I was in the middle speed group who made it up in about an hour. The fast group did it in thirty-five minutes! The pond was situated exactly in front of the basin of Katahdin. It was almost surreal how beautifully everything was situated. Imagine a big caldera left behind from a volcano, sort of like Mt. St. Helens. Now put a giant crater lake in the middle and cleared out field to look at the mountain above with wild flowers and tall green grass. Now in the lake you can see the reflection of the mountain above down to the last rock. That’s Mt. Katahdin. You have to see it to believe it. Everybody pumped fresh water into their water bottles.

The group that was turning back did so. The group that was going up, went up (that was the group I was in). I don’t remember much of the hike to the top, but when I got to the halfway point, Cathedral Rocks, I was really tired. I do remember a part where I jumped over a five foot gap and almost fell in it. Then there were these boulders the size of small houses. They were really big and hard to get over.

We summited at around 2 p.m. On top of Baxter Peak was amazing and since I was on the highest spot for quite awhile I could see for probably fifty to one hundred miles in all directions. That’s quite a distance. Everybody took a well deserved 30 minute rest to eat and well. . . rest. I even saw clouds in the distance that were below me! Now that was cool.

Everybody hoppedon the Knives Edge trail. The trail was about five feet wide at the widest and had a 1000 foot drop on the left side and a 500 foot dropoff on the right side. It was wicked sketchy, but I really liked it for some odd reason. Then just as I took a peek over the side, a strong gust of wind blew and vertigo swept through me like wildfire. It was really scary. Suddenly everything shrunk and I felt weird. Then just as it came, it left. I continued hiking on.

Then the trail stopped, I looked down to see a 40 foot cliff that I somehow had to get down. That wasn’t too much of a problem. When I got to the bottom of the cliff, the new challenge was getting up an identical face of the same height – using only the crevices! This took close to five minutes. There were some spotswhere I almost fell. I felt a bit safer at the top though. We continued down a new five mile trail called Helon Taylor near 3 p.m. This trail was a downhill boulder field. I almost couldn’t do it, but I had to continue. I just looked down and focused on home. The whole group was ahead of me but they didn’t realize Bruce (the guy who drove us the two miles to the gate) had the keys and he was sticking with me making sure I didn’t die on the way down.

It was three miles until we reached the woods. That is just an idea of how high we were. Oh man was this grueling! I had no water left and two miles to go. I was hurting really bad. I just kept asking how long till the bottom and got the same reply of “just one more mile.” When we finally did reach the bottom at 6:30 p.m. I could barely walk. I hopped into the truck bed and drove home. Wow, now that was a hike!

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