Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Happy Fourth of July

It looked like rain when we got to Baxter State Park. The ranger station at Katahdin Springs Campground has a selection of old day packs one can use to climb Katahdin. We registered with the ranger, loaded day packs with rain gear, fleece, lunch, and a couple of liters of water, and headed for the trail head.

The Hunt trail is one of several trails that lead up Katahdin. It's also white blazed as part of the AT. The Abol trail is shorter, but much tougher. We all were going up Hunt. Poppy, a young woman who came in with another service, took the Abol.

It started sprinkling early in the ascent, and turned into a steady drizzle, and the wind was blowing as Jason and I got to a long section of bouldering about three miles from the summit. Several hikers turned back, and urged us to do so, I figured I'd continue as long as I felt secure.

I soon left Jason behind and made it to the Tableland. It was protected from the wind, and was a surreal landscape of stones, alpine vegetation, and cairns leading the way to the summit through the fog and rain.
I met Poppy on her way down. She claimed to be the only hiker on Abol trail who didn't turn back. The back-country ranger, was coming down with one of the other hikers.

When I reached the summit, visibility was near zero, it was raining, and the wind was probably 30 knots. I snapped the obligatory picture, and picked up a small pebble to take to Springer Mountain.

As I made my way back down, I realized I was the last hiker on the Mountain. Which caused me to pick my way down that boulder field with more care...

I caught up with Poppy, the Ranger and Jason, who had smacked his head on a rock hard enough to make his fingers tingle suggesting maybe a neck compression and possible concussion. Later that evening, his symptoms worsened, and he took Ann ambulance ride to the hospital.
The rest of us settled in to our huts for the night.

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