I knew I wanted an early start today, the ranger had warned a sunny Saturday could mean upwards of 200 people on the summit and that crowd didn't sound appealing. Plus let's face it, it's pretty darn exciting to be here.
I heard Mcdubbles rustling around and packing a short time before sunrise and figured if one person was making noise I was free to go ahead. I was out with a quickness and starting up the trail by headlamp. There was a sign in sheet as I started out of the campground and there were already two people ahead of me. So no solo summit but company sounds more fun for this anyhow.
The first 2 miles were easy by headlamp, it was getting light as I passed Katahdin Stream Falls and I got a few rare glimpses through trees of sunrise and mountains. It was pretty cold but clear where I was hiking. To my west a large cloud bank loomed but I crossed my fingers and climbed.
I think this was one of my very favorite climbs of the whole trail. I'm sure my excitement didn't hurt but it was honestly fun. As it got rockier and I needed my hands more I stowed my trekking poles and really headed up. At first it was narrow and rocky with only a few weird scrambles but as I hit treeline it was full on both arms required to pull you around kind of fun. It was getting colder and I had to pull out my jacket and my poor hands didn't love me because I needed them as I climbed.
It was straight up scrambling, rebar ladders and foot holds and all around fun. I was having a blast scraping up my hands and hailing myself around.
After a few very steep spots and a false summit the trail opened up to the beautiful tabletop. I felt like I was in a totally different place, above treeline is always another world.
Lots of trail protection work in action.
I made it to the summit and excited started talking to myself only to discover a couple hundred up for warmth napping. After startling them I made some small talk and enjoyed the view. They had wine and cookies and had caught sunrise. I had a little time by myself before people started trickling up.
McDubbles was the first and we took a ton of goofy pictures. I ended up spending 3 hours up on top.
I walked the mile that was the knifes edge and back because I didn't feel like trying to hitch out of a parking lot at the end of the road.
Looking back at the Katahdin summit and ahead to the top of the knifes edge.
By the time we left we had quite the group of thruhikers and curious day hikers. But it was getting mighty crowded and we passed a ton of people heading up as we headed down.
A few of us decided to take the Abol trail down, after all we were done with the AT and it would put us about 2 miles closer to the park entrance. Near Thoreau Spring we veered a bit to the left and headed down. We were just on a different spine of the mountain and looking to our right you could see where the AT had climbed up.
It was still plenty steep and ridiculous but towards the bottom it was a little more dirt and smoother sailing but I was beat.
We had chatted with a couple on our way down and as 3 of us sat collapsed in the campground parking lot exhausted and dazed they offered us a ride to the park entrance. They were on call search and rescue so couldn't take us farther but wished us luck and off we went.
The second car that passed took us the rest of the way into the closest town in Millinocket and dropped us off right in front of the hiker hostel there. It sound like everyone else who left the summit later had about an hour longer wait than us but we all hitched into town and ended up at the hostel together.
Food and beds, laundry and plane tickets meant a busy evening but a fun one. It was a relief to take of my shoes and now I had to hike no further and my feet agree. Tired and sore but excited and happy I get to spend one more night with a bunch of hikers. What a great journey.
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