“Thoreau camped right here on Sept. 6, 1846”, I told Bill and General Lee, as we settled into site #19 at the Abol Bridge Campground . Unfortunately, Thoreau was unable to adapt his usual technique of taking a compass bearing on summit and and follow that bearing to the peak, which would have led him to the South Peak, as you can’t see Baxter Peak from this site. Even after two days of struggling through the underbrush, he gave up. Writing in The Maine Woods, Thoreau glimpsed an aspect of nature that changed his views on the outdoors as a pastoral , transcendent glade, ” Nature was here something savage and awful, though beautiful. There was felt the presence of a force not bound to be kind to man.” It would be 7 more years before Thoreau was to return to Maine, but never again to Katahdin. We were to learn the true meaning of those words in the next 24 hours.
To our left is Thoreau Bridge, located were Abol and Katahdin Streams flow into the West Branch of the Penobscot River. We went up and hung out on the bridge, sharing it with the numerous fully loaded logging trucks that work this area night and day.
To our right loomed the massif of Katahdin, at least that’s where I remembered it to be, but the thick cloud cover that shrouded the mountain sometime obscured it completely this evening.
The three of us had a parking spot the next day at Roaring Brook campground inside Baxter State Park. I have stayed at this campground a few times before and like its proximity to the store right by the entrance on the Golden Road.
The way the parking lot reservations work at Baxter is that you can reserve on-line or by calling in, but you have to be through the gate at 7:05 AM. If not, they cancel your reservations, and offer up your parking spot to someone else.
We had picked up BBQ chicken and some picnic items at the Hannaford’s in Millinocket on the way in and with the pile of dry firewood I brought from home, had a settled evening.
But rain started falling, lightly at first, and I was pleased that we had the Caravan to retreat to when it started to wet me up. Inside the van, we were treated to a spectacular light show, with lightening charging through the cloud layer to render the scene in a way that few people are able to experience.
We decided to get up around 5:30 AM and head out, just in case there was a line at the gate.