Whoever said the "first steps are the hardest ones to take" was a liar... It's the steps on the last mile of the hunt trail into Katahdin Stream Campground that are the hardest. More on that later...
After a great nights sleep at The Appalachian Trail Lodge in Millinocket and a hearty Millinocket special at the AT cafe. we set out for Katahdin. We had abnormally good weather for the climb, 72 degrees and sunny with a slight cooling breeze at our backs and no chance of rain. for Maine on June first it does not get any better.
The decision was made to take the shorter Abol Slide Trail up Katadin and then come down the actual Appalachian Trail which is the Hunt Trail.
Look at me in that picture, 40lbs overweight and full of optimism, wearing a backpack borrowed from the rangers station that had a floral print and the name Mikela stitched into the top of it. I don't know who Mikela is but boy did her pack perform.
The guide book says this is a nice gentle hike to a stream where you should fill up with water before you reach the main climbing portions. The person who wrote that has a different definition of easy than I do..
I want you to imagine if you will a staircase made for human beings, by a giant with a depth perception problem. This easy trail through the woods was filled with knee high boulders placed haphazardly and laced with tree roots placed strategically behind the boulders to make you fall on your face all going uphill and many times through water. It was at this point 5 min into the hike that I realized being able to walk 14 miles with a 30lb pack on flat land means absolutely nothing when trying to walk 3 1/2 miles with a 10 lbs in little school girls backpack up a steep boulder field.
It probably took me an hour and a half to catch my wind going up this hill, stepping around up and over these rocks sucked the life out of me and tried to break my spirit. My hiking partner and best friend Brian Hackman was a great sport walking far enough ahead to motivate me to catch up but slow enough that I could. Also at every rest break he would take something out of my pack and put it in his. I cannot thank him enough..
We finally hit the fabled water source which came in the form of a gentle mountain spring. I had purchased a SteriPen a few days before my hike and was so glad I did. I could purify a liter of water in 90 seconds where my Aqua mira drops would take upwards of 25 min to sterilize it. Both of us downed a liter of water on the spot and we refilled with the fresh cool mountain water. That is an amazing feeling, ice cold water running off a mountain and then running down into a parched throat. There is nothing I have had that even comes close to being so refreshing. And boy did I need refreshing...
I thought that first part was exhausting, my lower back hurt my legs had strange cramps, but when I turned around to look where I had come from I saw an amazing sight through a break in the tree line. A wide expanse of mountains surrounded me on all sides, a wondrous wilderness that reminded me that this is why I was here. I had to keep going to the top to see even more..