View Full Version : Monson to Katahdin Trip Report

Tim Rich
07-25-2005, 12:50

I'm happy to report I've completed my last section hike of the AT, Monson to Katahdin, to achieve 2,000 miler status. We headed up to Monson by plane, bus and shuttle on Thursday the 14th and stayed at Shaw's that evening. Several cloudbursts Thursday evening produced a couple of inches of rain, raising the level of the first several fords on Friday when we began. The first three days were tough, with a food heavy pack and an out of shape body that never dropped the ten or so pounds I wanted it to before we started. We started out from Monson with Whiteblaze's Robo, who's doing a HF-ME trip, and Seven Sisters, who was looking to complete the trail in six years worth of sections. Two days in, my MSR Waterworks filter developed a crack in its main case, rendering it useless, and we had insufficient purification tablets for the high volume of water we were drinking. From that point on, we tried to be selective in where we took water - time will tell if we were successful.

By Day four the trail leveled out, and the ten pounds I'd hoped to lose pre-trip were now a memory, along with a substantial portion of the my food bag. Daytime temps in the mid to high eighties, along with a healthy supply of mosquitos and deer flies, added to the hike's difficulty. At White House Landing on Monday, we met up with Jill (flipflopping after a Springer-Erwin segment), SOBO Belcher, and Adirondack (Paul), who was working northward in his first section hike of the AT, tackling all of Maine at once. Everything about White House Landing was a joy - the facilities, the food and the proprietors.

Other than a strong thunderstorm on Tuesday evening, the remaining part of the 100 mile was fairly uneventful. We met No Onions, a nice guy sectioning the 100 mile and eating well in the peak of mushroom season. After being teased with alleged Katahdin viewing opportunities, we got our first view from the ledges on Wednesday. We walked out at Abol Bridge about 9am on Thursday, took postcard quality shots from the bridge, made a few calls, ate snacks and chatted with Adirondack and Seven Sisters before going to register for the Birches and hike the nine miles through Baxter to the camp. Along the river, I had a fairly close bull moose encounter. He was moving right at the water in a thin strip of greenery between the trail and the river. I walked by, hearing him as I passed. He came up into the trail perhaps 12 paces from me, looked my way and heading south. A quick photo turned out pretty good.

The MATC crews were out in force, doing their good work. The stone stair work that has been done in this section is incredible. I also met the BSP naturalist and the new ridgerunner. Ranger Toby at Katahdin Stream was very helpful, and I just missed meeting Ranger Bruce there. The Birches site is a quarter mile from Katahdin Stream, which was a little inconvenient, but it's a very nice setup. It was a fine place to spend my last evening on the trail. With us at The Birches to summit on Friday were Adirondack and Slackpacker (completing 10 years of sections). Also at Birches but planning to summit on Saturday were Seven Sisters, Robo and No Onions.

On Friday, we rolled out of camp at 4:10am, took on water at Katahdin Stream and signed out at the Hunt trailhead at 4:30. We stopped for breakfast at a viewpoint and then a snack at the Gateway. The differing perspective of the surrounding mountains as we climbed was really neat. What we considered big mountains as we reached the viewpoint became insignificant as we reached tree line. As we continued to work through some of the trickier sections of the climb, fatigue wasn't really an issue due to our excitement. Once to the Table Land, our climb seemed to slow since our destination was spread out before us. At the summit, there were tears, cigars and many, many pictures. Adirondack had stayed behind to eat breakfast at the shelter and hadn't started until 5:10, but he came within five minutes of our 8:35 summit, really smoking along. It was a beautiful day, slightly hazy, but nothing was obscured by clouds or fog.

After hanging around the summit for an hour and a half, we headed back down, with the pounding and four point climbs now beginning to wear on us. After a few false starts, we found a couple happy to give us a ride to Millinocket, where we picked up packages with only a couple of minutes to spare before the mail window's 4pm close. We had mailed our duffels to hold our packs from Monson. My wife Brenda (and David's wife Tammy) had mailed us clean clothes and toiletries as well. Brenda, my three sons, my parents, relatives, friends and Sunday school class members had each written individual cards and letters of congratulations that Brenda had bundled and sent to me. They were overwhelming. Just writing about them now brings tears to my eyes.

Minuteman Taxi took us to Bangor Holiday Inn that evening, and a shower, food and drink were the order of the evening. The van driver from the Holiday Inn took us to the Concord Trailways bus station the next morning, but not before he took us on the Bangor native Stephen King side tour. The bus to Portland and the flight to Atlanta were as scheduled. As a welcome home gift, Brenda had gotten us tickets to the John Fogerty and John Mellencamp concert at the amphitheater last night and it was a heck of a show.

I'm a thankful husband, father, and 2,000 miler.

Take Care,


TJ aka Teej
07-25-2005, 13:12
I'm happy to report I've completed my last section hike of the AT, Monson to Katahdin, to achieve 2,000 miler status.
And we're all happy to read it! Congrats, Tim! :D