Living in New Hampshire gives me great opportunities as a 12-year-old who wants to explore the world, but it has nothing quite like Maine’s Baxter Peak. The mountain makes you want to try your best.
Baxter Peak is not visible from the road, so at first you don’t know what you’re dealing with. As my dad and I drove along the dirt road, a feeling of anxiety rushed through me.
After checking in with the rangers, we parked at Roaring Brook Campground and unloaded our backpacks from the trunk. Since we were staying at a pond called Chimney Pond for two nights, our packs were pretty heavy. As soon as I put mine on, I could tell it was going to be a long hike.
After hiking 3.3 miles in two hours to Chimney Pond, we went to the bunkhouse and started setting up our bunks. My dad and I both got top bunks, because everyone else had already chosen the lower ones.
One of the nice things about staying in a bunkhouse is that you get to meet new people. All the folks were nice and welcoming. We met three fathers and their teenage sons from Massachusetts. The boys taught me how to play a card game.
After a good night’s sleep, we awoke at 6 a.m. for the big day, ate a quick breakfast of bagels and cream cheese and headed out for the long climb. The sun had barely risen, but it was already warm.
I was nervous about going up the hardest trail in New England, but I knew deep down that my dad would never take me up something that I couldn’t do. So at that moment, I gathered up enough energy and courage to start the Cathedral Trail. I knew I wouldn’t give up.
The Cathedral Trail is a third-class, rock-scrambling, exposed mountaineering route. At some points, it’s a long drop on either side, making me nervous, although I knew my dad had his hand on my pack during the steep parts.
When we arrived at the summit, 5,267 feet above sea level, it was foggy and about 50 degrees, and the brisk wind scared me a little. It was about 10 a.m. We sat down and talked for a short time before heading down.
It is exhilarating to feel like you’re on top of the world.
Andrew Irwin is a sixth-grader who aspires to be an author. He enjoys writing, photography, hiking and almost any sport.