Orignally Posted on allwomansalltrail.com; you can find the link here
Day 1, Katahdin to Katahdin Stream Campground, 10.4 miles
Our ride to Baxter state park, we were given our first glimpse of the Mt. Katadhin. The Appacalian Trail lodge shuttled a full van of Sobo hikers into the park. It almost appeared we were entering through a top-secret back entrance to the park, which we probably were. I had never been to Baxter before. I was sure they had worked some special deal out. I was sitting next to Badger but soon met a nice married couple from Georgia, Jayla and Coulter, who needed a spot to camp. I graciously offered them a spot on my site. I didn’t willingly offer it to anyone online in the hiking Facebook group because I couldn’t be too sure who exactly I was offering my site to. I meant a few other hikers who had attempted to summit Katadhin a few days earlier but with weather complications that were attempting it again. I felt anxious and excited to begin this journey and happy to see other people were starting out with me. Once we dropped off, registered, bags loaded, we met another Sobo hiker (Millie) also caught in the bed weather and needed a ride into town because she had ripped her ass and leggings climbing Katadhin. Geeze, what was I getting myself into?
Once we reached camp, we stopped back at the rangers station to exchange out our day packs for our bags. All three of us headed for the site to set up camp. The sun was shining and it felt pretty warm. The bugs, which were black flies were swarming above us. There was still no signs of Badger. I kept anxiously looking up the road for her. I was worried something might have happened to her.
It’s hard to even begin to describe hiking up Mount Katahdin. It’s hard – like harder than I ever remember reading or hearing about. It starts off nice and slow. You walk along the beauty of Katahdin Stream, catch a glimpse of the falls, pass over a couple of streams, and then starts your never-ending scramble and boulder hopping. For a short girl, it was tough. I’m 5’2” and have longer legs but it was hard.
I was fortunate enough to have the company of Badger to chat with along the way and to have as a photographer most of the way until reaching the tabletop. Badger was a little bit slower and I was eager/anxious to make it to the top. It seemed like the walk was taking forever.
Once I got above treeline the wind greeted you like no other. As soon as you thought you escaped, it nearly pushed you over. It was hard enough trying to balance without the wind. The scrambles were tough on my arms and quads as I had to push myself up and over several boulders using iron wrongs at times. Badger was still with me and even after bouldering up first, she needed my guidance to get herself up. I didn’t mind helping at first but it appeared she wasn’t experienced as I thought and we clearly didn’t hike at the same pace. If she was looking for a trail family/ hiking partner, I wasn’t too sure I was going to be it.
Once you thought you’d reach the top of what you could see, you get a nice 1.6 mile climb to the official summit. At this point, I told Badger I would see her at the top and took off for the legendary summit sign. The summit itself was great and the views were indescribable. It was cold and windy. We had been in and out of the clouds with an occasional visit from the sun. Many others felt it was a good day to climb up too because the summit was packed. I got my photos and once Badger joined I got a few more. I was hanging around with Jayla and Coulter. I started to get cold being in shorts and said I would meet Badger at camp. I wasn’t too far behind the couple. The climb down was just as hard. I had to jump and slide off large boulders at times. I eventually caught up to the couple and walked with them for a bit. I told myself Katadhin was scary enough climbing up and down that it was a once in a lifetime climb. I couldn’t even imgaine climbing up the knife’s edge I had heard about. Luckily, it was too windy to even try to attempt that. However, my legs were so fatigued towards the end. The way down was a little bit easier sliding on my bum down the rocks, but I was happy to reach the tree line.
Also some things to mention I was unsure of:
You can borrow a loaner pack and keep your actual pack inside of the office/cabin of the rangers. No worrying about your stuff getting stolen. You get your permit once you check in with the AT lodge, which I would recommend. Near campsite 19 are bear cables to hang your food.
I hiked with Badger, Jayla, and Coulter who I offered to share my site with and planned to hike to the next camp spot with. I also met Mille and Alex who are SOBOs as well. All in all I’m exhausted and hopeful for a great night of sleep and also not mad that I kinda feel like the cool kids out here.
Day 2, Katahdin Stream to Hurd Brook Lean-To (100 Mile Wilderness), 13.4 miles
Early morning Badger decided to head home due to IT band/knee soreness and feeling a little sick.
Alex met us at camp and we hiked out as a group of 4. Alex is a recent undergraduate from Albany, New York with a strict timeline of 4 months to hike the whole trail.
Jayla and Coulter are a married couple from Georgia/Colorado in their late twenties who are attempting to thru hike. Jayla is a nurse and Coulter is a counselor.
It was a nice company to enjoy walking with Jayla, Coulter, and Alex. We stayed together for a majority of the day hiking into Abol’s Campground for lunch break. I fueled up on some ice cream, Gatorade, and bug spray.
My legs were tired from scrambling up to Katahdin but we easily made it into the 100 mile wilderness and to the lean-to.
Immediately upon walking up the the lean-to, we met Caribou, JukeBox, Broadway. Caribou felt her time was short and was using her time to hike the trail with her son, dear friend, and her cat, Marigold.
I think if I was to do it over again I would have stayed at Abol’s to freshen up, eat more food, and do fewer miles.
Day 3, Hurd Brook Lean-To to Rainbow Stream, 11.5 miles
I woke up before Coulter and Jayla but Alex was already up. Alex headed off and that was the last we saw of him.
I hiked alone for a majority of the day. I climbed up to Rainbow Ledge and got a beautiful view of Katadhin and managed to grab a cell phone signal to talk to my parents. The flies were bad.
Shortly after, I got my first sighting of Rainbow Lake, which I knew I’d really enjoy Maine. It was beautiful and I took some time to filter my water and enjoy the view.
I hiked a majority of the day alone. I passed some Nobo section hikers who warned me of the muddy trail ahead. I also walked a little with a guy who was staying in a cabin off of Rainbow Lake that knew next to nothing about the Appalachian Trail, which appalled me.
I got to the lean-to earlier than most. I set up my tent and had hoped Jayla and Coulter would soon catch up, which they did a little later. A brother duo was already at camp and had a started a few days earlier. They were basically going shelter to shelter. We enjoyed sitting around the fire eating dinner, listening to the stream, and chatting. I soaked my feet into the cold stream. Two Nobo hikers, who were vlogging the trail that year, Garden State, walked by as we’re hanging out. My site was one of the best ones in my opinion. It had a view of a distant waterfall from the stream and was secluded from the others.
Day 4, Rainbow Stream to Nahmakanta Lean-To, 13.9 miles
I woke up around 6:30 and wasn’t sure if Jayla and Coulter had left yet. I didn’t think I saw their tent on the hill but also thought I could have missed it.
I ran into them at Wadleigh Lean-to for lunch. A little bit later we ran into some much-needed trail magic from Wanderlust who is supporting Garberry and Critter two SOBO hikers. He was set up at a random campsite with a whole smorgasbord of hiker-friendly food. I had a few snacks and a beer. We also had to paint all of one or one of our finger nails with pink paint. If we ran into him in town, he would give us another beer. I never did end up seeing him again in town but did cross his path in a few days later still in the 100-mile wilderness. It felt good to receive our first trail magic and walk away with full bellies. We hung around for a while until leaving after taking a group photo.