I always get butterflies as I take the exit to Millinocket in anticipation of the hike to come. This was our first time camping at Abol campground. We reserved a lean-to, as you can never be sure of the weather near Katahdin. We set up our tent INSIDE the lean-to (you cannot have a tent outside of the lean-to). After setting up camp, we wanted to venture out and explore the area.
There is a short (.8 mile on way) hike to Little Abol falls, it’s gorgeous and well worth the hike. We explored around the falls and headed back to camp to get something to eat. We were hunger for more than just camp food so we went to River Drivers for dinner. I recommend the fish and chips, reasonably priced and a big portion. We took the scenic route (the Golden road) back to camp for a fire and a couple games of Skip-bo, which lasted longer than expected (I won).
After speaking with the ranger earlier in the day, our plan was to start our hike around 2 am to catch the sunrise. But we hit snooze and work up at 3:30am, and we were on the trail at 4:00am. We have hiked from this trailhead before the slide became unstable in 2014, the trail now bypasses the unstable slide making the trail 3.4 miles instead of the pervious 3.2 miles.
Our Headlamps lit the way as we started our hike in the dark. There is something so soothing and peaceful about hiking in the dark, it felt like it was just us and the Maine woods. It continued as ascended although we began to hear more animals as they rose with the sun, birds chirping and squirrels scurrying about. This new route of the trail brings you through switchbacks in the woods, as we peered through the trees we could see that dawn was approaching and the first light of the sun was about to reach the East coast (pictured above: sunrise on Abol trail).
The trail then rejoins the old route up the slide and over boulders, the views were incredible, we could see the shadow of Katahdin as the sun had shed its first light. As we approached Thoreau Spring we were temporarily blinded by the first light of Katahdin. 3.4 miles down and 1 to go on the Hunt trail to Baxter Peak. We took some time at Thoreau Spring to be alone on tail as we thought there might be people already on Baxter peak, but we were wrong.
As we headed on to Baxter peak we saw and heard no one, so we were able to take as many pictures and make wardrobe changes as we wanted before we headed over Knife edge 1.1 miles to Pamola Peak. I’ve had difficulties crossing over Knife Edge before I don’t want to admit this but I will… it has taken me 2 hours to cross Knife Edge in the past because of my fear of falling (I crawled). But this time we kept our pace at a mile and hour (walking instead of crawling made all the difference).
We didn’t hear or see people until we were halfway across Knife Edge. I enjoyed the views and felt at peace hiking across Knife edge, but also embarrassed that I was so scared the first time. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect, a light cool breeze, a few clouds and the sun shining! I would say the trickiest part about Knife Edge is the Chimney peak before you reach Pamola, there are iron rungs and a bit of rock climbing (but it’s fun) and well worth it.
We made it to Pamola peak snapped some photos and headed back to Knife Edge where we stopped to take a break, eat some sour gummy bears and an apple before reaching Baxter Peak. Baxter Peak was packed with people, so we didn’t stop but we did overhear some people celebrating their accomplishments of finishing the AT! We continued on the Hunt trail to Abol trail and down.
We kept a light jog most of the way down and enjoying the amazing views. It was nice to see the Abol trail with the sun up! On the way down we were able to thank the people working on the new part of Abol trail.
I couldn’t have asked for better weather or a more perfect hike! 10 miles in 9 hours (we made good time coming down). I can’t wait for more adventures at Katahdin! A campsite is booked in September!