August 16, 1998

8/16/98 Mount Katahdin

7.6 miles (2160.7 total)

Hard to get much sleep with the rain and the anticipation of Katahdin. About 4am, both Groovin’Moose and Kid packed up for an early summit climb. After that it was hard to go back to sleep. Most of us packed in the dark. We left the shelter about 6am in the rain. It just didn’t look like a good day.

It only took an hour to hike the several miles to the Katahdin Stream campground. Because of the rain, Groovin’ and Kid were still waiting at the ranger station when we got there. They classified today as class 2 - not recommended for hiking due to the weather. Our disappointment was high.

After an hour waiting for the weather to break, Bulldog, KFT, Groovin’Moose and Bubbles decided to try for the summit anyway. They had no choice but to try today or never finish. The rest of us milled around trying to decide if we should go into town and try tomorrow.

By 8:30, it really did look like the weather might break. Or maybe it was wishful thinking on our part. Finally, we decided to go for it. At 8:40, the rest of us, Lief, Tortoise and Hare, Kid and myself literally ran the first mile up the mountain. The sun would come out for a few minutes, then it would get cloudy again. The rain had stopped. The first several miles were like most of our ascents. But we finally reached a boulder field that stretched at least 1/4 mile "up". The wind was really starting to pick up. After putting on my jacket and putting away my poles, it was time to climb up, over and around the boulders. Some places were so difficult, rebar handles had been imbedded into the rock. Didn’t make it any easier, just less dangerous.

After climbing, the trail became an exposed ridge with more climbing. Still, the wind made staying upright difficult. Thank God, the rock was relatively dry. It would have been deadly wet.

Leif and KFT walking the 2-mile plateau in cloud-cover

Up over the top of the ridge, the trail flattened out into a plateau for the next 2 miles. Still, clouds blocked most of the views of where we were headed. I hiked with Leif, KFT, and Bulldog, with Skippy close behind. About ½ mile from the peak, the clouds started breaking up and the peak stayed visible ahead of us. You could almost make out the others already there. As I got near the Katahdin sign, I slowed down letting the others have their moment of triumph.

I'm so excited to finally get here
But I have a tear in my eye

As I reached out slowly to touch the sign at the end of my 2000+ journey. my thoughts were of my cousin Nancy, who I knew was there with me. I probably would have broken down and cried if there hadn’t been such a crowd.

Bubbles, Bulldog, Skippy, Groovin'Moose, KFT, Leif,
Tortoise & Hare, Kid, and Dragon's Breath

We all took time for congratulations and pictures. We all huddled in amongst the rocks trying to shield ourselves from the wind. The clouds would come in but would dissipate in minutes. After a couple of hours, we all started back down. As I looked behind, the clouds were completely gone.

The climb down proved much more difficult than the climb up, especially down the exposed ridge and the boulder field. I have to say, that mile was like a vertical Mahoosuc Notch. My vote for the most difficult mile on the AT. Just a beautiful day coming down the mountain. Stopped for a few minutes at Katahdin Stream Falls.

Today is Hare's birthday and that's her sister, Tortoise

Reached the campground to find it over-run with everyone’s parents, many making a surprise appearance. Besides Tortoise and Hare’s mother, Groovin’ Moose, Kid, KFT, Leif, and Bubbles and even Ghandi’s parents were there.

A little champagne with Mt Katahdin

As each hiker emerged from the trail, they got a clamor of applause and congratulations. Our journey ended and now ready to go home.