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  1. #1

    Default Stratton To Katahdin: Planning The Final Push

    After 7 seasons of hiking, I am at my last section hike of the AT. Short of an injury, the AT will become complete for me at age 33 after 46 trips in 8 years while holding a full time job. It has been an amazing journey.
    The following are my last trip plans and as I have become all to familiar with: It always looks good on paper, everyone will never agree with your plans, hindsight is 20/20 and I never regretted not quitting on a trip.
    Based around the 2 weeks after July 4th I will start at Stratton ME27 and head Nobo. My wife and our 2 children will be on a journey of their own accompanying me in Maine for the 2 week period being based out of an Airbnb probably around the Greeneville, ME area. I will be on trail, they will spend their days exploring Maine via our unlimited mileage rental car as they please.

    I have a backpacking plan which I will start the trip with, and pending circumstances I will be able to either backpack the remaining 180 miles which I have divided into 4 sections:

    Stratton to Monson: 70 Miles
    Monson to Jo-Mary RD: 59 Miles
    Jo-Mary to Baxter SP: 51 Miles
    Summit day on Katahdin: 10 Miles

    Capture2.JPG

    Or I will have a fall back plan of breaking this 180 up into slack packing day hikes as Follows and can be initiated at any road crossing on the list:

    Capture1.JPG

    Disclaimer: All Maine CDC/ Covid Guidelines will be strictly followed
    Last edited by Gambit McCrae; 01-06-2021 at 14:04.
    Trail Miles: 4,007.6 - AT Trips: 70
    AT Map 1: 2004.8
    AT Map 2: 265.0
    Sheltowee Trace Map: 84.0
    BMT Map: 57.7
    Pinhoti Trail Map: 0.0

  2. #2

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    Better check on the condition of E. Flagstaff road, it could be pretty rough.

    The Bigelow's are your next to last big mountain and is a stiff climb. Doing 16 miles over that hill on day one will not be fun. The killer is having to go up and over little Bigelow mountain at the end of the day.

    The Avery memorial lean-to is in a magical place. I would not pass up the chance to stay there. Plus this will be your last alpine section for a while, you can kill an hour just stopping and taking pictures along the ridge.

    Do this first section to Caratunk a little slow, like shelter to shelter. After Caratunk it gets much easier and you can make up for lost time.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  3. #3

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    Jo-Mary to Baxter SP: 51 Miles
    Summit day on Katahdin: 10 Miles
    Baxter boundary to Katahdin Stream Campground is abt 10 miles. Trailhead to Baxter Peak and back is abt 10.4 miles round trip.
    I suggest having your fam camp at Katahdin Stream for a few targeted dates to meet you and ensure you have a campsite for the day before your summit.
    This may help in your planning: The Nobo’s guide to Baxter and Katahdin for 2021
    Have fun!
    Teej

    "[ATers] represent three percent of our use and about twenty percent of our effort," retired Baxter Park Director Jensen Bissell.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by TJ aka Teej View Post
    Baxter boundary to Katahdin Stream Campground is abt 10 miles. Trailhead to Baxter Peak and back is abt 10.4 miles round trip.
    I suggest having your fam camp at Katahdin Stream for a few targeted dates to meet you and ensure you have a campsite for the day before your summit.
    This may help in your planning: The Nobo’s guide to Baxter and Katahdin for 2021
    Have fun!
    Teej I was initially planning on staging week 2 out of Millinocket and just getting up early on summit day looks like about an hour drive to Katahdin Stream Campground? My family will not have camping equipment or hiking with me.
    Trail Miles: 4,007.6 - AT Trips: 70
    AT Map 1: 2004.8
    AT Map 2: 265.0
    Sheltowee Trace Map: 84.0
    BMT Map: 57.7
    Pinhoti Trail Map: 0.0

  5. #5
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    Another consideration for summiting Katahdin - looks like you're planning on a Saturday. I would guess it would be less crowded on a weekday but don't know for sure. I summited on a Wednesday in late July. I started from KSC in the dark at 6:20 am and there were only a few people on the summit when I got there. But it was a spectacular day weatherwise and as I was descending, there were a ton of people climbing up. Getting an early start will really add to your experience if you can swing it.

    I agree with Teej that it helps to have some flexibility. I booked a lean-to at KSC for a couple nights so that I could wait for better weather if I needed to. As it turned out, that wasn't necessary so I just told the ranger to give my lean-to to someone else for the 2nd night.

    Hope your trip goes well. That is a spectacular stretch of trail.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gambit McCrae View Post
    Teej I was initially planning on staging week 2 out of Millinocket and just getting up early on summit day looks like about an hour drive to Katahdin Stream Campground? My family will not have camping equipment or hiking with me.
    About 45 mins to the gate, where there will be a line of cars waiting to get in, another 30 mins to the trailhead at Katahdin Stream, which you can only enter with a parking reservation.
    I seriously suggest staying in Baxter the night before your climb. A first light start gets you up above treeline before the first car of day hikers gets through the gate.
    Teej

    "[ATers] represent three percent of our use and about twenty percent of our effort," retired Baxter Park Director Jensen Bissell.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by fudgefoot View Post
    Another consideration for summiting Katahdin - looks like you're planning on a Saturday. I would guess it would be less crowded on a weekday but don't know for sure.
    You have that right.
    Teej

    "[ATers] represent three percent of our use and about twenty percent of our effort," retired Baxter Park Director Jensen Bissell.

  8. #8
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    In my experience monday and tuesday are the days to hike Katahdin. Any long weekend is really bad. The volume really cranks up in August getting busier every weekend the weeks before Labor Day. Saturdays are the worst with Fridays and Sundays about equal. Once into September the weekends ares still busy but the weekdays get lot quieter.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Better check on the condition of E. Flagstaff road, it could be pretty rough.

    The Bigelow's are your next to last big mountain and is a stiff climb. Doing 16 miles over that hill on day one will not be fun. The killer is having to go up and over little Bigelow mountain at the end of the day.

    The Avery memorial lean-to is in a magical place. I would not pass up the chance to stay there. Plus this will be your last alpine section for a while, you can kill an hour just stopping and taking pictures along the ridge.

    Do this first section to Caratunk a little slow, like shelter to shelter. After Caratunk it gets much easier and you can make up for lost time.
    east flagstaff road to the AT crossing and beyond actually is a well maintained road, no issues for any normal car.

    the entire section is pretty fairly easy once you come down off of avery peak all the way to monson. After avery there is only little bigelow, pleasant mountain and (moxie)bald mountain between you and monson.

  10. #10
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    looking at the day from east flagstaff to 201 - you need to start that day at 0 dark 30. the ferry is only running till 2pm after that you would need a private ferry or swim ...there is a private ferry fyi check guthooks to she if she is running...

    i like the pace of your backpacking schedule better than your slack pack schedule. Slacking that section means missing out on some of the best camping spots on the entire AT.

    then again all the best spots are near water in that section and the mosquitoes will be out in force every evening come early july...so

    lastly are you using a shuttle for slacking or are you thinking your wife is going to do it?

    there is a lot of driving to be done to get from stratton to e flagstaff to greenville, next day greenville to e flagstaff then around to 201 and back to greenville then back to 201 to troutdale road(which is 10-15miles of narrow dirt road). monson is easy from greenville, but ki road and jm road are both a good long drive on logging roads from greenville, be aware both of those roads are private, gated and require a fee. see north maine woods they run the gate houses for the landowners. https://www.northmainewoods.org/

    if you plan on using a shuttle service then disregard.

  11. #11

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    Congrats!!!

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by D2maine View Post
    looking at the day from east flagstaff to 201 - you need to start that day at 0 dark 30. the ferry is only running till 2pm after that you would need a private ferry or swim ...there is a private ferry fyi check guthooks to she if she is running...

    i like the pace of your backpacking schedule better than your slack pack schedule. Slacking that section means missing out on some of the best camping spots on the entire AT.

    then again all the best spots are near water in that section and the mosquitoes will be out in force every evening come early july...so

    lastly are you using a shuttle for slacking or are you thinking your wife is going to do it?

    there is a lot of driving to be done to get from stratton to e flagstaff to greenville, next day greenville to e flagstaff then around to 201 and back to greenville then back to 201 to troutdale road(which is 10-15miles of narrow dirt road). monson is easy from greenville, but ki road and jm road are both a good long drive on logging roads from greenville, be aware both of those roads are private, gated and require a fee. see north maine woods they run the gate houses for the landowners. https://www.northmainewoods.org/

    if you plan on using a shuttle service then disregard.

    Last year my wife slack packed me through 100 miles of the whites and southern Maine. I created a list in our iphones of the trailheads as drop pins and she did a flawless job for 2 weeks running the backroads of Maine dropping me off and picking me up. Our airbnb will have wifi so that the pins can be uploaded in the morning and then pulled from even without service.

    Quote Originally Posted by HankIV View Post
    Congrats!!!


    Thanks Hank! I'm not celebrating prematurely but I am definitely embracing the finish line
    Trail Miles: 4,007.6 - AT Trips: 70
    AT Map 1: 2004.8
    AT Map 2: 265.0
    Sheltowee Trace Map: 84.0
    BMT Map: 57.7
    Pinhoti Trail Map: 0.0

  13. #13
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    Gambit, I can feel your enthusiasm! Even though this trip is more than six months away, it's six months of an-ti-ci-pa-tion! Makes me feel nostalgic.

    When we did Katahdin, we reserved a lean-to for two nights. Slept, got a good hassle-free start on the climb, slept again.

    By the way, we summited on a Saturday in late August. For us, it didn't pose any problems, but maybe that's because we had the lean-to.

  14. #14
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    One hint. the drive on public roads from the Stratton side of Bigelow to the East Flagstaff road crossing is a very long drive as there is no way to cross the river unless heading way south to New Portland. I remember an hour and 1/2 drive from Carrabasset to East Flagstaff road trailhead. There is a private road called the Carriage Road that is logging road over land owned by one of Maine's tribes. it was closed for many years to through traffic but was opened when Maine Huts and Trails was open. It cuts directly east and cuts out a lot of miles. I do not know its current status but worth checking as it cuts out an hour of driving. Sadly the drive over to the east side of the Kennebec is as long of longer with no shortcut. Hard to go east west in that part of Maine.

    My standard suggestion is if you have someone meeting you at Katahdin, arrange for a pick up at Roaring Brook instead of KSC. That way you can take either the Knife Edge and Helon Taylor trail down or Hamlin Ridge trail. Either one would be worth driving all the way up there even if the AT didnt go up Mt Katahdin. Think Franconia ridge in NH type views on a much sharper ridge line that in the case of the Knifes Edge is 5 or 6 feet wide. Hard to think of better way to end a AT hike on nice day. There is cell coverage at the summit (not down low on the park roads so you can have your driver hang out in Millinockett and give them a call from above treeline to change plans if the weather closes in as Knife Edge is definitely not something to do on windy day.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    My standard suggestion is if you have someone meeting you at Katahdin, arrange for a pick up at Roaring Brook instead of KSC.
    I can not endorse this. Hoping to be picked up at Roaring Brook not knowing if parking lot there will be open isn't sound planning.
    Teej

    "[ATers] represent three percent of our use and about twenty percent of our effort," retired Baxter Park Director Jensen Bissell.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    One hint. the drive on public roads from the Stratton side of Bigelow to the East Flagstaff road crossing is a very long drive as there is no way to cross the river unless heading way south to New Portland. I remember an hour and 1/2 drive from Carrabasset to East Flagstaff road trailhead. There is a private road called the Carriage Road that is logging road over land owned by one of Maine's tribes. it was closed for many years to through traffic but was opened when Maine Huts and Trails was open. It cuts directly east and cuts out a lot of miles. I do not know its current status but worth checking as it cuts out an hour of driving. Sadly the drive over to the east side of the Kennebec is as long of longer with no shortcut. Hard to go east west in that part of Maine.

    My standard suggestion is if you have someone meeting you at Katahdin, arrange for a pick up at Roaring Brook instead of KSC. That way you can take either the Knife Edge and Helon Taylor trail down or Hamlin Ridge trail. Either one would be worth driving all the way up there even if the AT didnt go up Mt Katahdin. Think Franconia ridge in NH type views on a much sharper ridge line that in the case of the Knifes Edge is 5 or 6 feet wide. Hard to think of better way to end a AT hike on nice day. There is cell coverage at the summit (not down low on the park roads so you can have your driver hang out in Millinockett and give them a call from above treeline to change plans if the weather closes in as Knife Edge is definitely not something to do on windy day.
    Carriage road was just fine last summer and has been fine for the last few years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gambit McCrae View Post
    Last year my wife slack packed me through 100 miles of the whites and southern Maine. I created a list in our iphones of the trailheads as drop pins and she did a flawless job for 2 weeks running the backroads of Maine dropping me off and picking me up. Our airbnb will have wifi so that the pins can be uploaded in the morning and then pulled from even without service.



    Thanks Hank! I'm not celebrating prematurely but I am definitely embracing the finish line
    have fun finishing up!

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJ aka Teej View Post
    I can not endorse this. Hoping to be picked up at Roaring Brook not knowing if parking lot there will be open isn't sound planning.
    You seem to have missed a key part of my post "if you have someone meeting you at Katahdin, arrange for a pick up at Roaring Brook instead of KSC" unless there are new regulations in place I do not see a lack of sound planning. Rarely do the Day Use Parking Reservations (DUPRs) for Roaring Brook sell out during weekdays except weekends or holiday weeks. Once the morning line up is over, the park sells surplus DUPRs for the day at the gate or one can generally be picked up at the park headquarter a few days in advance or on line. Once a DUPR is in place, Gambit's ride, drives to the park gate, shows their DUPR and drives to Roaring Brook instead of Katahdin Stream. Where is the lack of sound planning in this plan? If party picking them up wants to kill time, the walk to Sandy Stream pond is short and flat and has a very high likelihood of moose being present. The trail may not be wheelchair accessible but pretty darn close.

    I do agree that heading to Roaring Brook without a pick up plan would constitute a lack of sound planning but that is not what my suggestion was. Even with lack of sound planning its highly likely that a hiker can catch a ride to the park gate and even to Miillinocket as a large majority of folks in the dead end Roaring Brook parking lot are heading to past Togue Pond gate at the end of their hike and my bet would be 95% of the people leaving Togue Pond gate are heading to Millinocket Its pretty rare to see folks hitching in the park except between Abol and KSC at the end of the day and in my experience given the predominately hiking crowd in the park many are amenable to helping out a fellow hiker. Catch it right and you may get a beer

    The only complication is the DUPR for Roaring Brook and my experience is once the morning rush is over during the week the park employees do not even check for DUPRs to go to Roaring Brook after the morning rush. A pickup at KSC also rarely requires a DUPR unless the party doing the pickup is planning to park. In my experience during the week anytime after the hiker rush the folks drive over to Roaring Brook and park to go to Sandy Stream pond even without a DUPR.

  19. #19
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    This was my last section as well, which I completed September 14th.
    I can’t add too much to what’s already been noted, but here are a few suggestions.

    Don't underestimate the 100 Mile Wilderness. It’s not ‘easy,’ even after Whitecap. I did an average 13-14 mpd but honestly would have liked to go a bit slower. The Chairbacks are a bitch.

    You might want to consider 2 food drops, or your support team re-supplying you twice in the Hundred Mile.

    Don’t pass up camping, especially at Pierce Pond, Antler’s, and Rainbow Lake (the dam, not the official campsite).

    It doesn’t sound like you’re planning to use hostels but if you are, I would not recommend Hostel of Maine. It’s a beautiful property in a ski lodge sort of way, but is not set up well for hikers. No laundry, no breakfast or dinner, and it ain’t cheap.

    I hope by the time you go the ATC will have resumed its certification program. My miles will never be counted or completion recognized.

  20. #20
    Registered User Red Sky's Avatar
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    Gambit, congrats on your achievement! I'm in the same boat, working full time and taking care of a family. Section hiking is all I can do for the moment, but I'm retiring in 2022, and I'm planning on doing longer sections. Looking forward to getting to Maine and following in your steps. God speed and good luck!

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