Start Milepost: 2184.6 Time: 07:21
End Milepost: 2189.8 Time: 10:38
Miles hiked: 5.2
Miles to go: 00:0
Temps: low 40s to high 70s, windy
Blue Side trails: Abol Trail (4.2 miles)
Map: Click on map pin
The nighttime temperature was warmer than either Jack or I expected so we both had to strip to our base layers in order to get a good night’s sleep. Scamper slept just fine in her heavy winter sleeping bag. At BMNT all three of us woke and began efforts to break camp. With sleeping gear stowed and day packs retrieved from the Ford Edge, each of us ate our breakfast of choice. Mine was a pair of breakfast Quaker Squares and a Cliff protein bar.
Shortly after seven o’clock we asked a hiker in an adjacent lean-to to take our family photo. With it taken, we were ready for our hikes. As we left the campsite, a group of nearby hikers, to include Baggins, Imagine, Hyde and Lazy Boy, were in the final stages of hike preparation. We walked a hundred yards past them to a kiosk where we entered our names, departure time and hiking trails. With registration complete we started up Hunt Trail. In a matter of minutes Jack and I had left Scamper well behind so we waited for her only to be told to “Hike your own hike”. So we did.
The first mile and a half proved to be standard Maine trail surface: rocks and roots. Thereafter rocks became the dominant obstacle. Baggins, Imagine and Hyde caught up to us quickly and effortlessly passed us. In turn Jack and I caught up to Camel and several other “aged” hikers and left them behind. About a half hour later we passed above the tree line where rocks were the exclusive surface. Unlike the early part of the day’s trail that left us breathing heavily, rock climbing did not. We were essentially taking a break every ten feet as we assessed the best path up jumbled of rocks; white blazes only offered a general direction along which we should proceed.
Jack occasionally took a look over his shoulder and expressed amazement and delight at the marvelous views. Above us we occasionally caught glimpses of hikers on the Trail and frequently heard Baggins let out an exclamation as she passed challenging rock formation after rock formation. Regretfully the picturesque views above and below ceased as did the sight of other hikers – clouds had moved in and visibility was reduced to less than 100 yards.
Climbing in the clouds was a new experience for Jack. And so was the wind! At times our clothing was making enough noise flapping in the wind that we had a hard time hearing each other’s voice. The wind (which at times left me fighting for balance), clouds, rocks and Jack’s company made my final climb unique. Great stuff!
At about 4500 feet of elevation the terrain leveled off somewhat and the trail became bordered by string to keep hikers from damaging plant-life. After a mile of that type surface the slope once more increased and the exact selection of the trail upwards was left to each hiker. And then, with little notice due to visibility limits, the climb was over. There before me was the sign affixed to an A-frame beside which every thru, section or day hiker wants to be photographed – Baxter Peak – elevation 5,267′.
I immediately sat down and waited for Jack who was behind me – well hidden by the clouds. When he was barely visible, I began to video his final few yards and caught his expression as he too glimpsed the sign. Together we walked up to the sign – smiling broadly. Jack and I held to the tradition while holding containers of a tasty, amber liquid that authorities had cautioned us not to carry (Bourbon for those wondering). I then stood alone beside the sign with my current favorite drink (Gatorade) in a favorite container (a Propel bottle). I’d completed my hike of 2,189.8 miles. Mercifully I had survived those miles without a major injury.
Jack and I then descended from the peak along Abol trail where Scamper met us about a mile north of the Abol campground. Including the descent miles (4.2) and the approach miles (8.8) from Amicalola Falls in Georgia I had hiked 2,202.8 miles with countless blue blaze miles as bonus.