Katahdin 2000

The following is an overview of the weekend trip to Baxter. I have asked others to send more persoanl inputs which I will forward to the list and Dipper will have webbed on the home page.

Sometimes superlatives are over used, but to say that a trip to the Mount Katahdin Mountain Range, with it's uncomparable 'Knife Edge', in Baxter State Park is coming the one favourite destination of the more adventrous Gonzos. That is not to belittle the Gaspesie, Gros Morn, or the many trails in the Whites where my still favourite, a bit less intense, 'DAY' hike is Falling Waters/Franconia Ridge/Old Bridle Path.

After rendevousing at the Warnica Marina at 4:00am Thursday morning, VIKING, the Gabmeister, Payneless, Sungod, Dipper, Dudley do Right(fka Stalker, fka Dunker), the Scrounger and his bevy of beauties Kirsten and Shelly, departed for a Timmies in Elmsdale and a further rendevous in Truro where we met Popeye and rookies Gordon and Carol Young.

Off to Northern Maine for my 5th trip to the 'EDGE' with the normal stops for breakfast at Sussex then on, on via Old Town, Saucony's, Bangor Post Office where VIKING picked up high tech paddles for next year. Are the Levy's in fear of winning the 2nd place trophy at Kenduskaeg?

Sungod, Dipper, Dudley, Popeye, Gordon Y., and Carol arrived at the Chimney Pond Camp ground at the base of the Great Basin after a 2 hour/2.5 hour hike with 30+lb packs around 5:00. After 30 minutes VIKING, Gabmeister, and Payneless showed after their trip to Bangor and meals were started to be simmering. A few minutes later the Scrounger arrives with a concerned look on his face. His bevy of beauties, whom started up the trail some minutes before him while he checked out the facilities at Roaring Brook, were no where to be seen. He never caught them on the trail and the assumption is they are off somewhere in the Park on another trail. Showing our great concern we sat passively and finished our supper wondering what sort of adventure we may be getting into. After verifying with the Ranger that no contact was made by the girls at Roaring Brook, VIKING and Scrounger got their gear together, packed water and lights and started off down the mountain trail to see if they could find them. 15 minutes later they arrived back with the 'lost' Gonzos who had started off towards Russel Pond Camp, 7 miles in the wrong direction. After 1/2 hour they figured out dear old daddie would have caught them by now and waited a bit, figured out where they were, where they should be, and returned the extra 4 miles to the right trail head.

There is an old saying, "when you come to a fork in the road, take one." The old saying should have said , "Take the right one"

After great meals, and some not so great pastey pasta meals, we had tea on the beach, and off to bed.

Friday morning, after tea and porridge on the beach at 5:30 am, it was time to look up, look way up, the Dudley Trail, a 1.3 mile 60% hike that would take some of us 2 hours to get up, to the start of the Knife Edge. The weather was nice and sunny at the base with some wind but up top there was a complete fog/cloud cover and the wind was obviously blowing at well over 30 mph. Not the perfect weather for crossing over the Edge, a 1.1 mile trail from Pamola Peak to Baxter Peak described in the book as "a trail needing no blaze marking as there are only 3 ways to go, ahead, back, or straight down the 2,000 feet on each side." This trail, if that is the right word, is no wider than a meter or two at times. Wind and fog were not the weather you would hope for.

As we crawled hand over foot over hand up Dudley, the wind increased, or at least we climbed up to where the wind was blowing very hard. The clouds/fog was swirling above us and Dipper and I wondered about the top and the safety of going across, at least for people that had not done before and we had no knowledge of their fears and abilities. If we had concerns we certainly did not want to put others unknowingly into a position they may not want to be in.

As we reached the top the sky opened up, and we could now see across the edge, the wind was not too bad and the decision to go across was not really a decision any more. That was why we were here.

Going at different speed we immediatly were spread out over the Edge, hand over foot, over hand, at times all four touching at the same time, sometimes even 5 human parts in touch with the trail , 2 hands, 2 feet, and 1 bum. While we were doing this journey, VIKING, Payneless, and the Gabmeister had gone up th Cathedral Trail, a shorter, but more vertical climb on the opposite side of the Basin, and went over the Knife Edge in a counter clockwise direction to Pamola Peak, only to then turn around and go back over the edge, over Baxter, down "past" the Saddle returning to Chimney Pond via the Hamlin Ridge. A total hike of over 9 miles with 4 major elevation climbs, not to mention the descents. The rest of us rendevoused on the summit of Baxter for lunch and talks. We then continued, descending off Baxter, down the Saddle, and on to camp, arriving at 3:00 for a swim and a little lay down. The Viking crew hauled in around 4:00 off Hamlin, justifiably tired after a great day.

Ah yes, the swim. Chimney Pond is turning out to be "the Place" to become a member of the Splinter group. What used to have the requirement of swimming in water that almost no one would swim in, ie: a polar bear swim, the entry rules were updated by Dipper, the 'keeper' of the book, to require the swim to take place at altitude or at a very cold temperature. Obviously a polar bear swim has no altitude requirement since it usually takes place at sea level.

After having IMAX, Mountain Dancer, Sungod, Lorenzo and Emma (Dipper Doodle: Emma did not get the chance to join, as some of the attendees were without suitable bathing attire. Knowing Emma, she would easily be a member , given the opportunity) join 2 years ago, the gates of membership were opened this year to Scrounger, Kirsten, Shelly, Gabmeister,Gordon Young, Carol Young,and Payneless. (Dipper Doodle: Gordon Young and Carol swam out of site of any official judges and further questioning leads us to believe that one person did not meet the full immersion requirement. The entire affair is now under review) The Sungod renewed his membership, Popeye (who has a multiple year membership after swimming on Mount Albert last year in a major sleet storm) swam anyway and the VIKING who has been living on a polar swim from a number of years ago, felt the static he was receiving about the statute of limitations was enough and he renewed. Dudley washed his face with a cloth, a far cry from emmersion, and he is still memberless.

That evening our international friends Robert and Sue arrived from that foreign country, Quebec, to partake in the weekends festivities. Since my partners (Viking and Paynless)in my hut, after their day of extra milage had gone to bye bye land at 8:00pm, I wondered the Camp looking for conversation, spending time discussing the world problems at site 9, and then site 8, and then site 1, until it was time so they all said, to go to bed.

Saturday morning Gonzos were going everywhere, Viking, Payneless, and the Gabmeister hiked out to Roaring Brook at 7:00am, drove to the other side of the park, up and down the Hunt trail (last 5 miles of the Appalacian Trail and then of to Nova Scotia, getting home at 2:00am Sunday morning.

Scrounger and his bevy of beauties were off to hike up Hamlin Peak to the summit, back down to pick up their gear and out to Roaring Brook and onto Fredericton.

The rest of us were at the base of Cathedral to begin the vertical climb up the Cathedral to the base of Baxter. Popeye and Dudley cruised up to the top where they waited for the rest of us. They waited and had a 2 hour nap, not remembering that we were going to take the cutoff over towards Hamlin. Dipper and Sungod climbed for 30 minutes and then waited for 10 minutes for Gordon Y. and Carol, Robert, and Sue. This system woks well so as not to put pressure on newer hikers on this type of terrain, while the more confident climber does not move at too slow a pace. I know this works because in most cases I am the slower hiker. A third of the way up it was decided that Robert and Sue would not be going as far as Hamlin but would be going down Saddle. It was at this point that Sue figured out she was on the Cathedral and not going up the Saddle. Ha, ha. Once at the cut off, we were off along the table land and up Hamlin Ridge via Caribou Springs, water was never more welcome. This is one of the only 2 water resupply spots on Katahdin and a major requirement. The hike over the ridge, after 'climbing' up the Cathedral makes for a nice tough day. The trek down the ridge took about 1.5 hours of totally stupendous views into both the Great and North Basins---Magical.

Back to basecamp for a swim, a nap, some food, tea on the beach, bed, up in the morning. on the trail at 7:00, in our cars at 8:45, breakfast in Millinocket, lunch in Sackville, NB, and home, wash and put away gear, have a bite, shower, read the 4 newspapers piled in my chair and to bed.

Cheers to all

Love and kisses from Sungod, BIRDER, and C.S. Lewis

PS: You will notice I am sending this email to Mr. Wright whom we met at Chimney Pond. His 61st birthday was June 25th and this was his 52nd consecutive summiting of Baxter Peak. We had a number of conversations during the weekend with this very entertaining gentleman. He was instrumental in Normie's new trail name, Dudley do Right, just plain Dudley for short.

-- The Sun god