Katahdin - Medical Report 2000

Last winter, Richard Cameron joined our masters swim team in Pictou. He began talking about his friends, the Gonzos, and their fitness adventures. We were soon added to the mailing list and I began to develop an interest in the various activities and characters. Since Carol and I had done considerable camping prior to family and since our family is now gone, we expressed an interest in joining the Gonzos for a trip and when an opening became available to Baxter State, we signed up.

I think "signed up" is the correct operative phrase. As in I "signed up with the marines".

We were up packing until eleven, then, had to rise at three thirty. Rich was at the door fifteen minutes early, necessitating shortening morning absolutions. The drive to Maine was uneventful.

On arrival at the park, we hiked into chimney pond. For Carol and I, hiking had always been an excuse to work up a great appetite, followed by a great meal. How different things are with the Gonzos. It seems pride is taken in how many noodles can be consumed daily to sustain the hiking.

Like Richard, I am very nervous at heights. The first day of hiking, up Dudley, across the chimney and along the "edge", provided a great test of my fears. I learned that height is not so bad if you don't look down.

The second day of hiking was a real physical challenge. After a gently walk through the woods, the trail heads straight up for two thousand feet. The route follows the edge of a precipice, which becomes ever steeper and higher during the ascent. I kept away from the edge, and was thus able to avoid looking down until I took one wrong turn around a rock and realized I was looking straight down about five thousand (at least five hundred) feet. After that, my nerve deserted me, and I clung to the rock face with increased fear. All the while, I had to show a brave front to Carol to keep her going. Unfortunately, at some point on the trip, I had a return of an old problem; back spasms. Without warning, my back goes into uncontrollable spasms, making any movement impossible. It added drama to the climb, wondering if the next spasm was going to come as I was hovering over a chasm. I speculated whether, if the spasm hurled me over the edge, I would welcome the bottom as a relief from the pain.

After a three-hour ascent, we reached the crossover where we reunited with the two Bruces and we continued onto the descent at Hanlon. Unfortunately Rich and Normie were exhausted from the climb and slept through the rendevous.

After the climb on Cathedral, the remainder of the hike was anticlimactic, except I found my lost credit card so my fears of huge losses came to naught.

Will we go on future hikes? Of course. What will we do differently? Pack early and go to bed early before departure. Check the topos before committing to a "hike". Allow more time for cooking so we don't have to carry out uneaten food. O yes, wooden floors have become much harder. I will buy an inflatable mattress.