I spent some time yesterday and today in an unsuccessful bid to find a spot with some cell service around Abol Bridge. I’m assuming my wife and my sister made it to Millinocket, ME, yesterday, but I have not been able to confirm their arrival. Our plan, discussed several days ago, was to meet this afternoon at the Katahdin Stream Campground. It will be totally amazing if, without communication, we all travel over 2,000-miles and meet up at a specific time at a place in northern Maine where none of us have been before. I also wanted to invite my sister to join me for today’s hike. It is only 10-miles to Katahdin Stream Campground over entirely flat terrain and I thought my sister might enjoy the walk (I know I would enjoy her company).
The Abol Bridge Campground is laid out along the banks of the West Branch Penobscot River and Mount Katahdin looked magnificent standing on the opposite shore in the morning light. The $25 campground fee includes an AYCE breakfast, so I took a shower, put on my semi-dry clothes, and returned the Northern Restaurant to fill up. After fortifying myself with plenty of pancakes, yogurt, and pastries, I returned to camp, packed my gear, waved goodbye to Brew, and headed down Golden Road.
After a short road walk, the A.T. turns left, enters Baxter State Park, and continues to follow the banks of the West Branch Penobscot River for the next three miles. Baxter State Park was a gift from Governor Percival P. Baxter who expressed the desire to keep the park “forever wild.” The park covers an area of almost 210,000 acres and inside the park, there is no electricity, running water, or paved roads. Although it is called a state park, it is administered by the Baxter State Park Authority and is not a part of Maine’s State Park System that is operated by the Maine Department of Conservation. In any event, it is a beautiful, wild, and very special place.
At a place called Pine Point, the A.T. turns north and continues for several miles along the banks of the Nesowadnehunk Stream. The A.T. Guide indicates that there are a couple of tributaries to this stream that need to be forded, but I could rock hop over each of them (although one of them was pretty scary). At one point, there was a big rock jutting out into the stream that provided an ideal vantage point for taking a picture of some violent rapids. Further up the trail, I passed side trails to views of Big Niagara Falls and Little Niagara Falls before the trail turned away from the banks of the river and returned to the woods.
There are many photo ops along this section of trail, but I had prearranged to meet my wife and sister at 2:00 pm so I kept moving along at a fairly rapid pace. Still, though, I couldn’t help but slow down occasionally to enjoy some of the beautiful scenery. On this section, the trail follows the shorelines of Daicey Pond and Grassy Pond with the massive Mount Katahdin occasionally dominating the background.
Just before 2:00 pm I arrived at the Katahdin Stream Campgrounds. After passing a camping area with cute miniature lean-tos for rent, I arrived at the campground parking lot which appeared to be filled to capacity. The was no sign of my wife or sister, so I followed the signs directing me to the ranger station. You are required to register in order to climb Mount Katahdin and I thought I would inquire about registering a day early. Inside the ranger station, there was a crowd of people standing in line to register so I stood on the sidelines observing the process. Most backpackers leave their backpacks at the station and climb with one of the many daypacks that are available at the station to borrow. Just as I was about to talk to the ranger, he received a call on the radio and told everyone that he had to leave to deal with an emergency.
While I was standing in the foyer outside of the ranger’s office, I looked out the window and to see my wife and sister! I rushed out of the ranger station and was standing on a berm when my wife saw me and started running towards me with her eyes twinkling and a big smile on her face. I swear that I could hear the ending of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo & Juliet Overture playing in the background when we finally locked in the embrace that I had been missing for six months. It felt so good to once again feel her arms around me. After giving my sister a big hug too, we climbed into the rental car and headed down the long dirt road to Millinocket, Maine.
In Millinocket, we are spending the next two nights in private rooms at the Appalachian Trail Lodge. After I enjoyed a wonderful hot shower at the lodge, we went out in search of food. Since it is Sunday, most of the places in this small town are closed so we drove around looking for an interesting place eat and finally settled on, of all places, a small Chinese restaurant. We had the restaurant to ourselves and the food was surprisingly delicious. Back at the lodge, I arranged for a shuttle to return me to the Katahdin Stream Campground in the morning. There is just one more challenge to overcome before my thru-hike is complete. Tomorrow I will climb Mount Katahdin.
Date: September 10, 2017
Starting Location: Abol Bridge Campground
Ending Location: Katahdin Stream Campground
AT Miles Today: 9.9
AT Miles To Date: 2,184.6