Ascent of Katahdin on 2013-09-30

Climber: Tye Scott

Date:Monday, September 30, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
    Elevation:5268 ft / 1605 m

Ascent Trip Report

This one was a doozy and really fun...for reason explained below.

Followed directions to Millinocket, ME and found signs to Baxter State Park which I thought I followed. About 24 miles up a dirt road that started from the River's Restaurant I decided I was on the wrong road. I drove back 8 miles to a middle of nowhere coffee/bait store and they informed me that the road I was on basically paralleled the road I needed to be on. So I ended up driving 4.5 miles further and took an unmarked dirt road that connected me to the Baxter State Park road. Finally arrived at the gate house as 3:30 pm.

The gate house person was very nice but once they found out my intentions of climbing Katahdin before day's end they became quite concerned and were trying to deter me from doing so. In fact, they said they didn't know if they could allow me to attempt it. After some discussion I'd convinced them that I could always camp and/or return to the Roaring Creek TH if it got too dark/dangerous as I had a headlamp. Good. All settled. That'll be $14 for entry.

They only take cash. Doooh! I have none. They inform me there's an ATM back in town...not a chance I'll get cash and the mountain. I plead. They apologize for the inconvenience. I continue to plead. They tell me the gate opens at 6am and I can climb then. I have a plane to catch and have today to climb...aka I continue pleading. They hesitate. I strike up a deal. They accept...and write on my entry pass that it was highly recommended I DO NOT ATTEMPT summiting tonight. Then they call ahead to warn the Roaring Creek Ranger that I was on my way.

From the Gate House to the Roaring Creek TH is a 20 minute drive. I made it in 12...and managed to shovel 2 Cliff Bars down my throat and chase it with some water. At the Roaring Creek TH I sign in:

Name - my name
Date - 9/30
Time - 4:05pm
Destination - The top
Route - Fastest

....and note the sign that reads Katahdin Peak is a strenuous 8-10 hour hike and should not be attempted from Roaring Creek after 10am. Nonsense. The ranger there echos the gate house ranger's advice and recommends I camp and/or try another hike. He radios ahead to the Chimney Pond ranger and forewarns them of my late start.

I started my jog up the trail and am mentally calculating times/distances/darkness. I pass by numerous people on their way down who scoff at my goal of reaching the top before dark, telling me I'll never make it but wishing me good luck anyhow. The trail steepens and my legs begin to feel the previous day's 20 miles. I briskly hike the rocky areas and keep a pretty good running pace otherwise. I pass more naysayers which only encourages me to keep going....and I am reminded of the saying:

"Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it".

I hit the Chimney Pond house and summon the ranger inside asking him which peak is the top and what route is the quickest. He comes out to point and chat and suddenly realizes I'm the guy who the other ranger called ahead about. He can't believe I arrived in 45 minutes (actually it was 48) and his attitude changes.

He tells me it's another 1.7 miles to the summit up Cathedral Ridge and sunset is at 6:13pm. He goes on and says I think you'll make it by sunset and suggests I take the Saddle back down as it's quicker and safer. Obviously you'll be hiking back in the dark but you know that. He sends me off after a quick chat with, "my fastest time up to the summit is 55 minutes. See if you can beat it." I nod and smile.

Within a 1/4 mile from the Chimney Pond house you start class 2/3 bouldering. I'm feeling warmed up from the run up but also feel the achy legs. I push on. Some of the rocks are beginning to gather moisture from the cooling air so I take my time and remind myself I'd like to summit safely. The blue blazes are pretty easy to follow though I did wander off the path once for about 50' before returning. The last .2 miles are up a very gradual incline so I run and reach the summit just before 6pm....59 minutes from Chimney Pond.

I soak up the glory of another successful HP season done, thankful for my health/safety, I watch the incredible sunset from atop Katahdin.

As the sunlight disappears I quickly pack up and start running back to Chimney Pond via the Saddle. It's bouldery, wet, and longer but much quicker and safer than the Cathedral Ridge. Stopping back by to see the ranger and let him know I made it safely down we start chatting. I let him know he still holds the record to the summit. He's very complimentary and fun to talk to. Actually wished I had more time to chat but I needed to run back down and start the drive back to Manchester. It was dark at this point so I donned the headlight and set off down the trail eventually making it back to the Roaring Creek house where I signed out and thanked the staff for keeping track of my whereabouts.

Overall it was the perfect way to cap my HP season...maybe not recommended (even by me that late in the day) but successful nonetheless. It was a beautiful trail that challenged me under the circumstances and I loved every bit of it. Time to summit was 1:55 including sign-in/chatting. 25 minutes on top to watch the sun set. 1:30 from summit to car.
Summary Total Data
    Round-Trip Distance:11 mi / 17.7 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Awesome Fall Sunset
Ascent Statistics
    Distance:5.5 mi / 8.9 km
    Route:Cathedral Ridge
    Start Trailhead:Roaring Creek  
    Time:1 Hours 55 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Distance:5.5 mi / 8.9 km
    Route:The Saddle
    End Trailhead:Roaring Creek  
    Time:1 Hours 30 Minutes

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