Friday, May 12, 2017

Treeline to the top of Mt.Katahdin

Treeline to the top of Mt. Katahdin
(Part 3)

The Appalachian Trail going to the top of Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park is called Hunt Trail.  The weather on the trail to the top of Mt. Katahdin may quickly change from a warm sunny,  to a cool, cloudy, and windy day.  The day we hiked up the mountain it was cool with winds up to forty miles per hour.  The day before it had been raining with zero visibility.  This day it was clear with a low lying haze that reached across the low lands.  At times we could see many small lakes scattered across the plain.  As I hiked I tired, and  I wished I could be fishing in one of those lakes instead of climbing over boulders.  

As you watch the video notice the smaller evergreen trees as they give rise to their smaller shrub like-cousins.  The boulders are coated with algae and some lichen making it harder to use as hand holds.  We used the trekking poles as an extra boost to pull each other up the rocks.  Listen to the wind as it blows across the camera microphone.  A low flying airplane passed across our field of view.  In some spots we allowed several hikers to squeeze by us on the thin ledges, trying not to loose our grip.  Many of the granite boulders are very loose, and we had to take special care not to fall off the ledges.   At times the white trail blaze markers seem to go straight up the fifteen-foot boulders.  Along one section of the trail there are monkey bars anchored into the boulders.


The famous trail challenge is to ascend the boulders by way of the monkey bars.  The monkey bars are two one inch diameter bars mounted in granite boulders.  The idea is to climb the boulders stepping on the two monkey bars, one of which was broken and only a stub,  like a ladder up the ninety-degree slope.  This is an impossible feat, except if you are like me and have bad knees that will not bend to allow climbing the ladder.  A woman hiker volunteered to pull me up by my pack from above, while another hiker pushed me up from below.  I managed to clear the monkey bars for the next part of the trail.


A good pair of hiking boots was a necessity to climb the boulders.  Our cheap box store trekking poles managed to last the entire climb without breaking.  Leather gloves are a necessity climbing over the rough surfaces of the weathered boulders.  Without gloves your hands become worn raw from the small-pocketed depressions in the boulders.  The Appalachian Trail white blazes mark almost impossible routes up the ten to twelve foot boulders.  It was great to have someone to help me up the fractured rocks.  One slip, and over the side of the mountain you could go.


The winds blowing up to forty miles an hour made the climb more of a challenge.  The trail was very narrow, and passing hikers made the trail even more difficult to navigate.  Closer to the top I could see for miles on a clear day.


Algae and other microscopic life live in the pocked spaces of the rocks, make climbing a little more difficult for gaining hand holds.  People of all lands come to Maine to hike Mt. Katahdin and we met many who could not speak English.  The winds got stronger the higher we hiked, and often at times the only way was straight up the boulder shelf.


Very close to the top of the mountain is a flat area called the Table Lands.  This is the point to which Henry David Thoreau climbed the mountain.  The trail is roped off in an effort to protect the fragile, flattened ecosystem of the table lands.  After about a half mile the trail ascends the mountain to the top.  A sign at the top announces that you have achieved the goal.  A drink of Gatorade was a refreshing gift after the long climb.

I felt like one tired, older guy making it to the top with not much energy to spare.  We took a different trail down the mountain.  That trail called the Abol Trail had just been rerouted and was much steeper and harder to climb due to the many rock slides that had occurred previously.  We were so glad that we had been required by park rangers to take head lamps on the trail because we returned back to camp well after night fall.  

It was a hard climb, but I was so glad to finish the hike.  Not many people my age hike, and even fewer ever get a chance to go to the top of Maine's highest mountain, Mt. Katahdin.  I would not have been able to make it without the help of my son-in-law pulling me up the boulders.  I am thankful  that the Lord gave me the strength to be able to complete the hike with the help of my caring son-in-law.

I considered the hike a challenge because of my desire to hike the ending point of the Appalachian Trail, despite the tough terrain.

James 1:2-3 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance."

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