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Steve Jermanok’s Active Travels: Mt. Katahdin, Maine


Mount Katahdin

Mt. Katahdin, Maine

Katahdin is a fitting end to the Appalachian
Trail in the north. Reaching the mass of rock atop the 5,267 foot
summit is a challenge to the most experienced climber, even the AT
thru-hiker who spent the last six months racking up more than 2,100
miles. Yet, it’s somewhat of a disappointment that the AT ascends
Katahdin from the Hunt Trail, the easiest (if there’s such a thing) and
least spectacular path to the peak. For an unparalleled mountainous
ascent in the northeast, you should opt for the Knife Edge. Like the
name implies, this three to foot wide granite sidewalk sharply drops
off more than 1,500 feet on either side.



The best way to reach the Knife Edge is the Helen Taylor Trail from the
Roaring Brook Campground.  All the ascents are a struggle. You start at
about 1,500 feet and don’t stop climbing until you run out of mountain.
When the Helen Taylor trail hits Pamola Peak, a little over three miles
into the climb, bear left to find the Knife Edge.  First you’ll ascend
South Peak, then Baxter Peak, the summit of Katahdin. Rest those
spaghetti legs and take in the exquisite vistas of northern
Maine—Chesuncook Lake, the West Branch of the Penobscot River, Big and
Little Spencer Mountains, and all the peaks that form massive Katahdin.


As you gloat, proud of your grand accomplishment, just remember that
Henry David Thoreau climbed Katahdin without a trail. “It was vast,
Titanic, such as man never inhabits. Some part of the beholder, even
some vital part, seems to escape through the loose grating of his ribs
as he ascends,” Thoreau noted in The Maine Woods.  No doubt, you’ll
agree.

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