I pop the top on a PBR can as we unpack our sleeping bags, spreading them across the rough wooden floor of this Baxter Park lean-to. A big haul off an ice cold can gives me a bit more inspiration to unload gear and setup the propane stove for dinner. Katahdin Stream rushes by, just beyond the visible tree line, providing relaxing white noise – and an easy spot to clean fry pans after dinner.
The afternoon hours we spent fly-fishing a local pond and tonight would be served to plan tomorrow’s hike of Katahdin. All intentions were to cross famed Knife’s Edge – a narrow ridge line between two of the parks highest peaks. At certain points (they say) you have a two foot path, both sides dropping a dramatic 2,000 ft. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid.
We rise with wide eyes and hit the trail at 5am. From Roaring Brook, we gain elevation over the next hour and a half before Chimney Pond enters into view. I’ve heard this ranger station is the most sought after position for a ranger on the entire East coast, if not all the country. Located in a serene basin, surrounded by granite walls, green trees and crystal clear water. Peacefulness.
Cathedral Trail, before long, has us scrambling on all fours, grasping for handholds. The instruction from our Maine Guide friend rings out from up the trail, “Three points of contact!”. That’s coaching I’d never been given before nor want to hear again. This isn’t hiking. This is climbing. The beauty of the flat Maine countryside begins to ring out atop the trees. Blue ponds and far stretching forest for as far as the eye can see. Try to spot a house. You can’t. This is nature.
It’s about 10am and we’re standing at the highest point in Maine. Mount Washington to the Southwest, Rangeley to the South; farmland, North; the Atlantic, East. However, we see none of that. We are standing IN the clouds. Thick fog rolled an hour ago. Visibility seems to be 30 feet, maybe. A quick snack and our boots aim for Knife’s Edge.