Up at 5 am! I left all my gear and tent behind, and strolled over to the kiosk to sign up for my spot at the special, reservation-only shelter for just 12 hikers in Baxter S.P., to find Baltimore Bob and G-man had already been through – we would be summitting the same day! Very cool!
Alas, the rules were that I could not sign up unless I was ready, at that very moment, to hike into the park. Rebelliously, I signed up anyway, but less than a half mile down the trail, my conscience was bothering me enough that I went back to scratch my name out again. Then I went back to Abol Campground, packed up my gear, ate breakfast at 7, then returned to the kiosk, all ready to hike.
No one else had signed on since, so I reused the #3 slot for my info, and walked on – into Baxter. Finally!!!
An easy 10 mile amble. I took my time to enjoy the park and the Maine woods. Some of the early trees are starting to change color. There were two fords on the way, crossing the same river twice; there was also a high water bypass trail that didn’t cross the river at all. I took the latter, and it proved to be one of the fairyland trails, all green-lit by moss and by sunlight through the leaves. It was so beautiful.
Arriving at Katahdin Stream Campground, I first went to check in with the ranger and pay the fee, but he was out, so I walked down to the Birches and set up camp – there were two small shelters, a tent platform that G-man and BB were using, and a handful of tent sites. I opted to shelter, and for a long while, was looking to be the only one in that shelter. (Peter Pan arrived after dark.) Some tented, there was one hammock. There were also bear cables to hang bear bags from, first I had seen since NJ or NY.
When I did go back to register, it was getting close to the time the shuttle from the Millinocket hostel was due, and hikers who had summited Katahdin that day were gathering. I knew many of them, including Spidey, Mercury, and Minion – many others who’s faces I recognized but names I forgot. Congratulations were given, and in some cases, contact info exchanged.
When I went back to the campsite, I had a double serving of carbs in the form of Alfredo pasta sides for dinner – tomorrow was going to be a big day after all! Most of us planned to head out very early – me, I planned to wake up at 4:45 and be on the trail as soon as it was light enough to see the path, but before sunrise. BB and G-man were heading out even earlier. I heard later that some hikers had started at 2 am, so they could see the sunrise up top. I believe it!
We all turned in early, as hiker midnight fell. Big, big day tomorrow!
I hike on!