With all the excitement, we had a hard time sleeping and decided to get up at 4 am in order to be on the trail as the sun was rising. We made a stop at the ranger station where we emptied our packs aside from snacks, cameras and jackets. We passed through Katahdin Stream Campground and over Katahdin Stream Falls. Right as we climbed above tree line and we began our technical climbing, the wind picked up and started to pull us around. We found Hot Sauce, who had started his summit hike at 2 am in an attempt to catch sunrise, and hid in a protected area to wait for the wind to settle. When Snarf hiked by we all decided to begin climbing again. We had a section of technical climbing with rebars and rock climbing then a large flat section called The Tableland before beginning our final ascent to the summit. We were in the clouds with no view when we entered The Tablelands but the skies opened up when we approached our final climb and we had beautiful views of the summit! We reached the summit with Hot Sauce and Snarf and celebrated with cheers, photos and champagne. We sat on the summit for hours while we waited for the rest of our group to summit. There were 11 of us that summited together. We experienced so many emotions, many of which we can’t put into words properly. Elated, proud, sad, thankful, excited. Utterly bittersweet.
We woke up early and headed to Abol Bridge Campstore to buy treats for our last night and summit day. Nearly everyone in the group of hikers headed to our shelter bought hot dogs or bratwurst and Hot Sauce bought bacon to wrap his bratwurst in. After the store we crossed into Baxter State Park and signed in for a spot at The Birches, a shelter and tenting area reserved for long distance hikers (those who have hiked at least through the 100 mile wilderness). We forded the Nesowadnehunk Stream, passed Big Niagara Falls and signed in at the ranger station in Katahdin Stream Campground at the base of Katahdin and home to The Birches. Kathleen signed in as #84 thru hiker for 2012 and Joe signed in as #85. A huge group of thru hikers showed up by the end of the night, nearly everyone we’d hiked with for an extended amount of time. We spent the night around a fire, eating and sharing stories. We hiked 13.4 miles today.
We had our last big climb of our thru hike today up Nesuntabunt Mountain. From the summit we had a 16 mile line-of-sight view of Katahdin (36 hiking miles away). We hiked past Cresent Pond, Pollywog Gorge, Rainbow Stream, Rainbow Lake and hiked up to Rainbow Ledges for a great view of Katahdin. We hiked 20 miles today and stayed the night at Hurd Brook shelter. We all got to the shelter early and got into our tents early because of the swarms of mosquitoes.
Today was filled with flat, fast hiking. We stopped at Potaywadjo Spring Shelter for lunch and a break. We hiked along a river for miles in the afternoon and saw two moose! They were eating and swimming in the middle of a wide, quiet section of the river and swam off after they heard us on the other side of the bank. We hiked 21.4 miles today and found a primitive camping site on a hidden beach on the Nahmakanta Lake. We stayed with three other hikers and spent the night making a bonfire on the beach.
The trail in New Hampshire was more than just the trail in The White Mountains even though this section was one of our most highly anticipated. The Whites offered some of the most dramatic and breathtaking views on the trail with some of the steepest inclines and declines hiked on the entire trail. New
We started our morning with a climb up Gulf Hagas Mountain. We then hiked up West Peak, Hay Mountain and Whitecap Mountain. On the northern side of Whitecap Mountain we got our first view of Katahdin! Our final peak was still 70+ miles away but just seeing it was exhilarating. We arrived at the Cooper Brook Falls Lean-to early and took a swim at the falls before dinner. We hiked 18.9 miles total for the day.
Miles hiked in state: 149.8 miles