We moved on down the road to Millenocket...well not exactly moving "on down"....but moving on down and around. There is no easy way to get to Millinocket from Greenville. As the crow flies its only about 60 miles of North Main Woods private dirt roads and gates. It takes about 120 miles the RV friendly way and still the road was bumpy in places.
So whats in Millinocket? Nothing. But....it is the closest town near Baxter State Park where Baxter Peak is located on Katahdin. Baxter Peak is also the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. Baxter State Park does not allow any motor vehicle more than 22 feet long, 9ft wide and 7 feet high. BSP is mostly a hiking destination. Not exactly RV friendly. There are lots of places to pull off the Golden Road which is a private logging road or off the Baxter State Park road, but we elected to stay in town at the American Legion...a very friendly post according to Joel.
The main reason for coming to Baxter State Park was to hike to the top of Baxter Peak the high point of Maine, almost a mile high. Also, my medicare card would be occupying my wallet in a few days so what better way to celebrate! We had been watching the weather and it looked that there was a two day window of good weather so Tuesday, Joel dropped Nancy and I off at the trail head for an early start, I mean really early..6:00. We took our first steps on the Appalachian Trail about 6:30. The hike is about 10.5 miles round trip with an elevation gain of over 4000 ft., so its not your average hike and rated as "difficult". We'd been told to allow at least 10 hours so we figured it would take at least 12 hours for us seniors.
The first few miles of the trail were very easy with a very gradual climb. I'm thinking to myself "this is not all that difficult...so far". The brook that flowed along the trail was pleasant.
The trail continued until we started above the tree line, and then we came across "the boulders" and the "monkey bars" below. Can you see the metal bar and little hook below it? That is what we used to get up over the rock.
So we have to get to the top, and that's not the peak. It seemed to take forever.
Can you see the white blazes on the boulders marking the "trail"?
Nancy makes it look easy:
Nancy took a few action shots of me negotiating some of the boulders. My little short legs sure got a workout!
Whew! I made that one!
But that's not the end.
Wow, it feels good to be on some ground!!
But there is much more to go!
Yea!! We made it to the top. The wind was ferocious and it was very cold so we didn't spend much time at the top savoring our accomplishment.
This is the official peak.
The rocks are supposedly piled high enough that the top rock is exactly one mile high.
The views were spectacular.
So, what goes up must come down. We started down on the Saddle Trail which was suppose to be easier. The trail looks easy, but we were walking on tennis ball size rocks...all loose. At this point the trail is marked with blue blazes...on rocks... and there are also large cairns piled along side of the "trail". You see one of the giant sized cairns below near Nancy.
Then we came to the junction of the Saddle Trail and the Chimney Pounds Trail. Nancy is just starting to head down in the above picture. The picture below is what I saw as I started down. You call this a trail? I call this a land slide. There were loose boulder size rocks with blue blazes indicating a route down down the land slide. I think it took us almost two hours to get down out of the loose rock but then the next 4 miles were spent rock hopping through a dry stream bed. I'd call this mountain climbing, not hiking!
and miles, and miles.....
It took us a little over 6 hours to get to the top of Baxter Peak about 5 miles. We figured it would take less time to go down the mountain but it took almost 7 hours to get back down to the Roaring Brook parking lot about 5.5 miles. The "easier" way over the mountain took us a lot longer, but both Nancy and I agreed we didn't want to go back over the Hunt trail and have to go down all those big boulders.
So, another "epic" hike under my belt. Thanks to Nancy, for taking pictures of my adventure and sharing them with me. Now, both Nancy and I can say we have climbed the highest peak on both the West and East (we don't count Denali in Alaska).
Needless to say, the next day was a day of rest which included a few pain killers. On Thursday ,we headed over to the coast of Maine, at least for a few days, but hurricane Irene may dictate how long or where we will stay. We have found a great little dry camping spot near West Pembroke to watch the Reversing Falls. There is no cell coverage but Joel's internet is functioning.
More on the Reversing Falls and the area later.