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Rhon Bell

Rhon Bell, an outdoor enthusiast, spends his time exploring the Maine Woods and documenting his journeys. Growing up in Aroostook County, he embraced the outdoor lifestyle at a young age. Living today near Portland, he spends weekends and week-long adventures hiking New England summits, canoeing the historic Maine waterways, and ice fishing for lake trout. Follow the journey as Window to the Woods discovers new destinations, and check out his other blog, Backwoods Plaid.

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Window to the Woods with Rhon Bell
Posted: August 28, 2013

Mt. Katahdin | Knife's Edge Hike Pt. II


The Knife’s Edge trail starts out wide. I wonder out loud, and to myself, why others make such a fuss over a 15 foot wide trail of granite boulders. This is easy. Raindrops begin falling from the gray mass of clouds and fog that surrounds us. A clap of thunder rings out in the distance towards Millinocket. It’s at this point in the hike the hood of my jacket begins flapping in the wind. 45MPH winds pick up and an uncomfortable feeling kicks in. It’s now the trail thins out and I begin to realize the reason for its name. I swallow hard as I drop to all fours (for the second time today) with the full intention of not being blown off this mountain top.

The trail is the one rock’s width wide, sharply dropping off on each side, and as we proceed, that one-rock path rises sharply to a new elevation before dropping dramatically, to only rise again. Fog blocks further vision. I holler ahead, asking if we should turn around. The answer isn’t one I wanted. Apparently we’ve come too far to turn around.
Rain is pouring. We’re soaked. It gets worse. Driving sleet and hail start flying into our faces. My heart sinks. The fog lifts slightly showing us the last portion of the trail – reminiscent of a movie where the actor flees out a hotel window and crosses a 6-inch ledge to the next window down. Our path is one half-foot, bodes pressed forward tightly, yet insecurely, against a wet granite wall. Howling wind and rain slapping our fogged sunglasses. A murderous 2,000 foot drop waits should our wringing wet hiking shoes slip on the slick rock. This is no longer fun.
Should conditions be different, perhaps sunny, this might be enjoyable, but right now my chest is thumping in my soaked-through rain jacket. Three points of contact… three points of contact… three points of contact is the phrase in my head. If even I could see how far I was going to drop (should I fall), it might make me feel better. The more I think that thought, I’m grateful for the fog. One hand in front of the other, one foot then another. It’s 1PM, but feels like I’m already late for dinner.
Pushing your boundaries, making yourself feel just a bit uncomfortable, trying something new and doing something that scares you can help you become a different person and have a better understanding for what “hard” means. I was never so happy to set foot on the next peak, Pamola and start hopping the down the Helon Taylor Trail. Before I knew it I was back amongst the trees, dropping elevation. Knife’s Edge is nothing but a memory… and a damn good story to tell. I’ll probably never hike it again, but I can always snootily look down on those who’ve hiked it in optimal summer conditions with a one-up.


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