Grayhounds at Katahdin 2003       Picasa Photo Album

Thru-hikers, through hiking.

It was 5 1/2 months ago when I drove the Grayhounds to Bangor to put them on a Greyhound, taking them to Georgia to begin a 2,100+ mile hike north. Lots has happened over the past days, all documented in the Trail Journals.

Saturday morning, and I was again driving south, this time with my old buddie Geezer, into Maine (Baxter State Park) to pick them up.

On the road at 6:30am, coffee in Elmsdale, breakfast at Mickie Dees in Sackville, arriving in Millinocket 6 hours later (good roads and 120kms per hour), lunch again at Mickie Dees, into the park, pick up the boys, to the grocery store for lunch stuff for tommorrow (met Lorenzo and Emma who had dropped down from Frederickton to join the boys), and back to the motel, sit around watch some college football and tell stories.

Bit of a side note, at the gate going into the park we noted to Ranger Rick we were going in to pick up a couple friends that were thru hiking. He said, oh it must be the 'two old guys' sitting at the Ranger cabin at Katahdin Stream--no respect for the 2,000 miles, eh!

I forgot what it was like to be in an enclosed room for a number of hours with Ross and Gordon--Ross always amazes me how he fills the air with his knowledge of the NFL and US college sports, Gordon just amazes me with how he fills the air---certainly clears the breathing tubes.

Chinese supper and into bed early for an early morning departure.

Eating/drinking on the fly, we were on the road at 5:15am (local time), and at the Trailhead ready to climb at 6:30am.

The topo map showed a climb and actual fact bore that out. We knew we had to go up a bit over 4,000 feet but it was over 5.1 miles--while the first 1 1/2 miles was a gradual (relatively speaking) up and there was the 1 mile of reasonably flat Tableland near the summit. This meant that most of the elevation was covered over 2 1/2 miles---this IS steep. Except that you don't get the real good views we all like, it is really neat to actually 'hike' into the clouds. Soon after getting above tree line most things dissappeared except the white blazes on the rocks and the cairn piles of rocks.

Hiking with the thru hikers is an experience, they don't seem to be moving that quick since they don't seem to breath when they walk--And they don't slow down, just steady onward--walk an hour, 5 minute rest, walk an hour, 5 minute rest, etc. It was 4 hours up--read 3 rest stops. The only times we seemed close to equal was the climbs up/over the large rocks where you are pulling yourself up as much as using your legs.

You only have to look at the pictures to realize they have not been 'building' their upper bodies---ha, ha, ha!

We spent about 30 minutes on the summit, taking in the ambience (and the wind and fog), having to finally leave as the chill started to get to us.

Going down was tougher than we expected--We took another 4 hours to the parking lot--when you factor in (again) the Tableland and the last 1 1/2 miles at the end where we really moved, you can imagine how slow we were on the large boulder fields. The hand hold and metal staunchions that were so valuable in helping us pull ourselves up over the the steep parts were absolutely essential in keeping us attached to the mountain.

There is what's known as 4 point stance (both hands and feet touching at once), a 5 point stance (also called 'bumming' it) where you 'sort of' slide along. We invented the 'all point' stance where at times it seems you whole body is touching rock.

It was in the cars, 120kms an hour to Oromocto, NB for a bite to eat and home at midnight.

It was nice to see Larry again, after spending so many hours a week running, working, and socializing for 15 years, he has been missed over the past 5 years he has spent in Minnesota and Fredericton. Nice to see Emma also, the last time I saw her was as an 11 year old (with helmit on) climbing over the othe side of Katahdin and the Knife Edge 5 years ago--she is becoming a lady.

And it is specially nice to see Gordon and Ross, and to be another 'little' part of their trip. They have certainly entertained us over the past half year, actually going well back into the winter.

It will be a pleasure to watch them fatten up again and 'kick their butts.'

After trying to come up with one word to describe the trip I give up, it has/had so many dimensions.

Cheers, welcome home, enjoy a few days off.
THE Sungod