The Maine Event
Loon Lake, Maine … and surrounding area
With that disclaimer taken care of, it’s time to get caught up.
The return trip from Nairobi was successful – as evidenced by the fact that you’re reading this update and not my obituary or other equally (or less equally) morbid tale of my demise. That said, I won’t go into specific details regarding the flights – of which there were two. Suffice it to say, they departed when they were supposed to. And landed when and where they were supposed to. Oh, and once again it was beautifully warm (some might say hot) in Doha, Qatar. By “beautifully warm” I mean it was 35C at midnight.Arriving back in Philadelphia didn’t translate into actually STAYING in Philadelphia for long. Instead, I found myself (very willingly) in a car bound for Maine. Actually, it was a mini convoy of two cars as there was Gage, Jack, their kids, and friends of Gage and Jack’s. I should point out that while this was not my first time in Maine, in many ways it seemed like it was. My only other Maine visit was during my east coast tour in 2014 when I took the ferry from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia to Portland, Maine and proceeded to pedal down the east coast. That stay in Maine was very short and I was certainly oblivious to most of the scenic qualities that Maine has to offer. Seriously, there are mountains in Maine. The highest of which is Mt. Katahdin (5,267 feet) and it is located at the north end of the Appalachian Trail. The goal, if we chose to accept it, was to climb Mt. Katahdin. We accepted. The hike up and down Mt. Katahdin is a one day, 16 km hike estimated to take about 9-12 hours. Side note: my spellchecker is annoyingly determined to rename Mt. Katahdin to Mt. Katharine. End of side note. Our group consisted of me (obviously) plus the aforementioned friends and family of Gage and Jack. In total there were 15 of us and featured the young group which consisted of eight people ranging in age from 13-23 and seven others in the , uh … not-quite-as-young group which ranged from … well, ages aren’t really important. Suffice it to say I was in the not-quite-as-young group.
You may be asking, “If it was a one day hike, why haven’t there been any updates for over two weeks?” Well, that would be a fair question. All I can say is that now would be a good time to re-read the disclaimer paragraph that began this update. Additionally, we didn’t spend the entire time at Mt. Katahdin. The majority of the time was spent at cabins on Loon Lake near Rangeley. It too was very scenic. Of course, the remote location also meant less than consistent internet access. In fact, for some reason my phone didn’t function at all in Maine (I’ll spare you the rant about my phone in general … suffice it to say it’s a Samsung Galaxy S4 and I can’t imagine a worse phone – and I can imagine quite a bit). Oh, and there was also an overnight stop in Tamworth, New Hampshire to visit other friends of Gage. Once again, that’s just a roundabout way of explaining (or excusing) the lack of updates recently.
Okay, back to more relevant items. Even though most of the ten days spent in Maine wasn’t spent on the mountain, the highlight was definitely the hike up Mt. Katahdin. Yes, canoeing and/or pedal boating around a beautiful lake featuring mountain vistas was very enjoyable. However, I’m still partial to mountains and very much enjoy the views from the top. Mt Katahdin didn’t disappoint.
We were on the trail for about 45 minutes before I deemed the pace to be a bit slow for my liking so I proceeded ahead. Solo. In the grand scheme of things, that’s probably not entirely surprising.
After about 90 minutes of solo hiking, I got my first glimpse of the other group making their way up to the first peak. About 30 minutes after that I met up with them and I continued with them for the remainder of the trek.
Perhaps the most notable part of the hike is a section called Knife Edge. Knife Edge connects the various peaks and is a somewhat narrow stretch along the top of the mountain and definitely involves more bouldering than trail hiking. It’s also not recommended to be traversed during bad weather. Fortunately, we were hiking under a beautiful (and mostly) blue sky.
Fast forward several hours (which included a somewhat steep and not-so-somewhat rocky descent down “The Saddle”) and we (the young group and me) made it back to the campground, nine hours and 16 minutes after our trek began. Much of the final hour was spent walking in various degrees of rain and occasional thunder accompaniment so we were all pretty happy to be off of the mountain.
That said, the remaining hikers in the group got a BIT delayed when they got caught in a thunderstorm as they crossed Knife Edge (yes, that’s the section you DON’T want to be climbing in bad weather). As I wasn’t with them at the time I can’t really say what it was like but I’ve heard it was less than pleasant. That said, everyone made it off the mountain eventually and those who had an extended stay on the mountain have a interesting tale. And yes, part of me wishes I was with them.