My quads still hurt. I groan every time I stand up or sit down. Don’t even ask about getting in and out of bed!
The adventure that led to these aches and pains two days ago was a “hike” up Maine’s Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park. And it was worth every step. Every groan. Every ache.
I’ve lived in Maine for nearly 30 years but somehow had never made it to Baxter State Park, one of Maine’s gems. Katahdin is the highest mountain in Maine and the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail and a very popular site for hikers and campers who want to get away from it all in the northern Maine woods.
Climbing Katahdin is not your garden variety hike. I am not an experienced hiker though I am relatively fit, but the exertion level was surprising to me. We took the route from Roaring Brook Campground to Chimney Pond and then up the Saddle Trail, approximately 5.5 miles each way with an elevation gain of 3778 to the top of Baxter Peak. Park information lists the Chimney Pond Trail as moderate hiking and the Saddle Trail as strenuous; altogether we hiked 11 miles up and down in 10 hours and we were all tired by the end of the day. Nearly every step of the way had to be carefully chosen through rock-covered trails, boulder fields, loose stones and gravel, and several difficult faces that were not for the faint of heart. Simple walking trails these are not!
This trip started with my wife’s 67th birthday. Connie loves to do something unusual each year on her birthday and we like to include as many of our family as are available. in whatever adventure we undertake. Two years ago we ran a half-marathon; last year all 10 of us were in Africa on safari; in past years we’ve done long bike rides or swims. But this year it was a hike up Mt. Katahdin with two of our adult children and their spouses and one granddaughter. Cami and Sam and baby Castine hiked with us to Chimney Pond and then headed back down. A huge feat in my book with a seven month-old baby. Kris and Kat and Connie and I pushed on to complete the climb, spending only 25 minutes at the cold and very windy summit.
As always, the best part of the day was spending time with our family. Who wouldn’t want to have that extended time up and down the trail to talk about their lives and ambitions, their friends, and life in general? Sharing such an experience is more and more important to our family. With everyone scattered across the country these moments together are precious and treasured.
Want to see more of this part of Maine? In addition to the hiking in Baxter State Park there are many opportunities for fun and adventure—whitewater rafting, looking for moose and other wildlife, poking through Maine history, and so much more.
Baxter State Park and Mt. Katahdin…another spectacular Maine attraction.
(Thanks to Kris Carter for the” heading down the mountain” photo.)