188geLess than a week before I head off on a little walk I’ve been planning since last year. As most of my grand adventures seem to, this started out as a crazy idea I didn’t expect to actually do, but these things take on a life of their own sometimes. After being dropped off where the trail crosses the highway near Stratton I’ll be heading north on the AT with food for 15 days and almost 200 miles to cover before my family meets me up in Baxter State Park on the other side of Katahdin.

I broke the trip up into sections to make mapping easier, but I’m not planning a tight schedule to follow. I have definite start and end dates which are the only timing concern. In between I’m hoping to relax and enjoy the hike as well as some time hopefully catching some fish. There are a few mountains along the way, but also a lot of rivers and lakes so gear for catching and cooking fish will definitely be in my pack.

188profileThis elevation profile only goes as far as the summit of Katahdin and is missing the descent to Roaring Brook. It also isn’t very accurate in terms of mileage as the official distance for this section is listed at 188, not 177. GPX files often do this as they only reflect points along the trail as opposed to the actual line walked, but on a long trip like this you can really notice the difference.

The other thing I notice when I look at this profile is that there is a big climb on both the first and last days. At the start I’ll be carrying a very heavy food bag and by the end I’ll likely be starving to death and mad with cheeseburger desire so it will be an interesting challenge on either end of the trip. In between those two days there are a few pointy bits, but it is what you can’t see on this big scale that will pose the real challenge. There is a lot of small up and down bits that don’t show up here. They make even the sections that are relatively level hard work at times due to what some call PUDs or Pointless Ups and Downs. I actually like the variety as opposed to the miles long slog up a big mountain that can get old sometimes. Still I know the toll those little climbs can take as they accumulate, especially on a scale like this.

IMG_6174aNew this year for long distance hikers entering Baxter State Park via the AT is this lovely green Hiker Permit. You can find more info on the park website (link goes to .pdf) about who needs a card and how to get one. We took a family trip up to the park a couple of weeks ago and stopped at the office in Millenocket on our way up where I signed up and received my card. It is free and the only information they required was my trail name and my real name. I’m guessing they are going to use these to track both entry and exit for distance hikers to better monitor actual numbers and their  impact on the park. Since the card is required for access to The Birches site and can be picked up right on trail at Abol Bridge from the BSP steward stationed there or even at Katahdin Stream Campground I’m thinking folks may actually comply with this small intrusion on their free spirited hike, though I’m sure the usual malcontents will cry about The Man holding them down 🙂

IMG_4852aSunrise on the Knife Edge as seen from the Lunksoos shelter on the IAT. This is a view of the side of the mountain most thru hikers never see. I’ll be heading down this side, via the Knife Edge weather permitting, to a reunion with my girls at the Roaring Brook campground. They are bringing a big cooler full of food in hopes that I won’t eat them. They are also bringing me some clean clothes and deodorant in hopes that we can sleep in the same lean to. Then the next day we’re going to go on a hike and have a picnic because I’ll probably want to stretch my legs a bit.

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