That statement needs to stand alone. As my husband kept saying, “a few years ago you would NEVER have done this”. He was right. This achievement was definitely the proof of how far I’ve come. Mentally, physically, emotionally I could not have done this just a couple years ago. Maybe not even last year.
This year? I did it. Yes, it was a struggle. But it was far more of a mental struggle than a physical one. I never felt like my body couldn’t do it. (although there were a few spots of “dammit I’m too short for this!”)
Friday night the three of us (plus Spenser) drove up to our friends Kathy and Jamie’s house. We stayed the night there then headed to my parents house in the morning. We left Girlie and Kathy and Jamie’s youngest kiddo (and the pup) with my parents for the weekend since this trip was too much for the littler ones. Then we headed north toward Baxter State Park to meet up with the rest of the crew.
When we got to the park we set up camp and went for a short hike to a nearby waterfall. We enjoyed some fabulous Dutch oven lasagna and chocolate peanut butter no-bakes (yay Kathy) and turned in early to be ready for our big adventure.
Sunday morning we had a quick breakfast (thanks Beth for bagels and eggs), checked our packs, and hit the trail.
Our plan was to climb up Abol Trail then take the Knife’s Edge to the summit. From the summit we would take Saddle Trail down to Chimney Pond then Chimney Pond Trail the rest of the way down. I think. Feel free to correct me guys!
Abol started out fine. The day was bright and sunny and the trail was steep but clear. Then it got real. Scrambling up boulders and over ledges. Did I mention that I’ve got this silly fear of heights? Abol was intense. Then it started to rain. Scrambling over wet, slippery boulders with long drops below. Egads. I was really struggling at one point, then I realized that I had two options. I could either freeze up and start crying and be stuck in that spot ’til they had to call rangers for help or haul ass up that mountain. There was no middle option. So I glued myself to Beth’s shadow (that woman is half mountain goat-she totally led me up that trail!) and hauled ass.
Getting to the Tabletop was such an accomplishment! We rested for a bit and regrouped before having a serious discussion and making a decision. Due to the thick fog and heavy rain and the fact that we had minors with us we all agreed to skip the summit. It just wouldn’t have been safe or responsible to go for it. Especially not the Knife’s Edge. So we worked our way around and down.
Partway down Saddle our group split up into thirds, with Handsome Husband, 2 of the teenage boys, and myself in the lead group. We kept a pretty serious pace down to Chimney Pond. At several points we “boot scooted” down wet boulders rather than try to stay on foot. This trail was a lot less steep/scary but a lot more technical as far as footing and I was really able to keep my mind in a good place.
Once at Chimney Pond we sat back, covered ourselves in another coat of DEET, and ate lunch. At this point I also had to acknowledge a big mistake I’d made: I didn’t bring enough water. I had brought a 50oz camelbak and a 25oz bottle and I was down to just under half the bottle. With a couple more hours to go. Yikes! Fortunately Ray had brought a filtration system and was able to refill my camelbak from the pond. (Thanks Ray!)
At this point 2/3 of our group had arrived, including all of the teens. We agreed that the adults who were cooking dinner would head back with the teens and get dinner started while HH and I waited for our final third.
Before too long the last group caught up and we headed down the Chimney Pond trail. This is seriously The. Longest. Three. Miles. Ever. I have run a 10k in far less time than it took us to get down the rest of this mountain. The good news is, the trail was pretty stable and flat (for Katahdin), far fewer boulders and steep declines than the other trails we had been on. But there were still enough challenges to make for slow going.
When we finally reached the ranger station we were all exhausted but proud of our accomplishments. We hopped in the truck and headed back to our campsite. Where we got sit by the fire with a beer and eat the Most Delicious Jambalaya. (Thanks Pam!) We shared our stories about the mountain, highs and lows. I’m pretty sure that each one of us faced a special personal challenge on that mountain and that each of us kicked that challenge firmly in the ass.
I am so thankful to have been included in this challenge by this group of inspiring people. I learned something valuable from each and every of them as well as the lessons learned about myself on the mountain. I am thankful for my husband and his support on this journey, both up the mountain and the changes I’ve made over the past few years.
Have you ever climbed Mt. Katahdin or any other mountains?
Have you climbed any personal mountains lately? Accomplishments you’ve worked hard for, know you couldn’t have managed in the past?
PS- On re-reading this I feel like I owe a shout out to Heather @ Evolution Fitness. My body never let me down on this adventure. I was strong enough physically to do everything I needed to. Thanks for teaching me how to get that way.