Mount Katahdin is on the mind of most NOBO thru-hikers when they take their first step off Springer Mountain, GA. The finish line is part of the motivation from the start. Katahdin is probably the topic of conversation around campfires in the Great Smoky Mountains, in the shelters of the Shenandoah Valley, during snack breaks on the rocks of Pennsylvania, and amid the squeezes of Mahoosuc Notch. The beautiful mountain and the big brown sign at its summit are etched on the thru-hikers mind even if the pilgrim has only seen pictures of the finale.
Mt. Katahdin is Maine’s highest peak at 5,267 feet above sea level. It is surrounded by 200,000 acre Baxter State Park and miles of forests beyond that. There are several trails that lead to the top of Katahdin but the official A.T. path is the Hunt Trail. It begins close to the Birches Lean-tos and Campsite at about 1,000 ft above sea level. During the five mile trail to the summit the hiker will gain more than 4,000 ft in elevation. That sounds steep….very steep. When the thru-hiker reaches the top, embraces the wooded sign marking the northern terminus of the AT, celebrates the victory with weeping or laughter or joyful shouts or thankful prayers, spends some time reflecting on the reality of completion, there is only one thing left to do…. turn around and hike down.
The Penobscot Indians named this rugged yet beautiful mountain, Katahdin, which means “The Greatest Mountain.” Katahdin seems like a fitting end to the great adventure… a final challenge to cap off the very long trail… the true trophy of the thru-hiker.
Once I stand on the top I will feel ready to describe the view. Until then, I remain quiet in humility and retrospective in my dreams. My hope is to post my own pictures of the peak of the Greatest Mountain but until then, let me post the view of others.
Photo 4 http://at.advsysweb.com/