Thursday, August 8, 2019

Mt. Katahdin, Maine (5,267)

29th High Point Visited 
22nd Highest State Highpoint 
15th Most Difficult

2019 was finally the year I had the opportunity to travel to Maine to climb Mt. Katahdin.   Why did it take so long?  Well for starters, I put in the coordinates into Google Maps and it shows 3,286 miles from home so literally there is hardly another mountain in the USA any further away from my home in Southern California.

Four years ago in 2015 I did actually did travel to Maine where I knocked out two marathons in a single weekend.  There have been many state high points I've visited on the same trip as a destination marathon tho not even considering logistics, physically not even I couldn't have fit in a traverse up this mountain into a double marathon weekend.

A trip back to Maine has been on my radar for sometime.  After retirement my friend Greg wanted to visit the North East including Canada.  He would be a little flexible with his schedule so we could work in Mt. Katahdin as a small segment of his grand trip.   Originally it looked as if summer 2018 would be the year but he postponed retirement a year and therefor the trip was delayed.  I received a message from a friend and a photo of her on top of Katahdin in August 2018 on what looked like a beautiful day which was even further motivation to continue planning a trip.

It wasn't until June 14th that our plan started to materialize and the tentative dates were established of August 3-10.  Next came figuring out exactly how to get to Maine from California and how to maximize the time to fit in as much as possible into the short window of only a week.   There were many options for flights but what has seemed to work the past few trips to the North East was to fly into Boston.   You would think Boston is not that close to Mt. Katahdin but it's main advantage is there are direct flights and it's the least expensive for airfare vs. flying into either Portland or Bangor.  The cost of the flight + car rental flying into Boston was less expensive than just the airfare along if I were to fly into to either of the closer cities.  

My friends Greg and George, both from Ohio, would drive in George's Subaru Outback for a month long journey and I recruited my friend Josie to accompany me for my week long overlap of their vacation.  I'd already been to Mt. Washington the high point of New Hampshire a couple times but it's a pretty spectacular mountain it worked out that the four of us would meet there.   

Josie and I flew red-eye so landing on the east coast we were already sleep deprived when we hit the ground early in the morning.   There are many hikes up to Mt. Washington, but require 4,000 vertical feet of climbing and and early start, so unfortunately we couldn't join Greg and George Saturday morning for their hike.   Instead I made a reservation on Mt. Washington's COG railroad.  It makes for a 3 hour trip, about an hour up, an hour on the summit, and an hour back down. 

Often the railroad is sold out so it was recommended to buy tickets in advance and in doing so you have to commit to a time.  I chose a 1:30 departure with a 4:30 return in June and hadn't given it much for a couple months.   I figured that would give us plenty of time to make it New Hampshire from Boston.  When we landed in Boston I glanced at the tickets I looked at the time and it black and white showed 4:30 in big letters.   I guess I forgot what time I had made the reservation so a 4:30 ticket afforded us some extra time so perhaps we could head to downtown Boston, visit Quincy Center and walk some of the Freedom Trail.  

I'm meticulous with travel plans and keep all receipts printed in a manila envelope.   When we landed I searched for an auto reservation and was dumbfounded that I had completely forgot to make a reservation.   No worries, I broke out the mobile phone and tried to find the best rate for a last minute week long car rental.  A little bit rushed, I made a reservation on the shuttle bus from the airport to the rental car center.   Upon check-in at the counter I find out I made the reservation at a location off the airport.  Apparently 1 reason my rate was so good.  No worries, the airport location took the reservation but had to add the airport taxes.  Oh, well.  Happy just to have a car we were off to begin our east coast adventure.

Every single time I've been to Boston I've got lost in the tunnels missing my desired exit and ended up driving out of my way.   Of course this time was no exception.  Eventually we found parking downtown and headed out on foot to see the city.   We stumbled upon the Freedom Trail almost by accident and followed it to the Quincy Market and had breakfast at Cheers.  We hit a few shops and decided to drive over to Bunker Hill Monument and hiked up the 294 stairs to the top of the monument.

We hopped back in the car and made our way towards Mt. Washington to meet up with Greg & George.    

After the train ride to the top of Mt. Washington we headed to Acadia National Park for three days.

Now satisfied from our three days of adventures in Acadia National Park it was time to get back on the road and head for Millinocket, Maine where we would begin our preparations for climbing Mt. Katahdin.    

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