A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate make my 20th summit hike to Maine’s highest point via the newly rerouted Abol Trail.
I returned last week to hike in my favorite backpacking destination, Baxter State Park, joining my Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails hiking pal Guthook as we explored some of the lesser trails in the park – ones that are usually bypassed in favor of ascending Katahdin,the crown jewel of the wildest state park east of the Mississippi.It’s the third week in September and the humidity that has dogged coastal Maine for the past two months has followed me up here to Baxter State Park. The technicolor fall foliage show is just getting to the beginning Kodachrome stage, delayed this season, likely due to a drought.
Tonight, we’re settling into Lean-To #3 at Neswadnehunk Camp Ground for a fresh roasted veggie/kielbasa dinner cooked to perfection on a cheap portable gas grill.We’re here after a 10 mile afternoon walking the Park’s Kettle Pond, Cranberry Pond, and Rum Pond Trails. These low lying trails are the among the first the hiker encounters after entering Baxter through the Togue Pond Gatehouse. Even these relatively benign, unfrequented forays were satisfying sojourns from my multi-tasking life.
Our reservations for the first three days are at Lean-do #3 at the Neswadnehunk Field Campground. It’s a drive in site with a view toward the incomparable Doubletop, at 3,489′ a distinctive mountain, with a short ridge connecting the two prominent exposed granite points on top. Approach trails reach it from either the north or south. I went up for the second time two years ago, so I’ll appreciate it from afar this time.
The ranger here told us we are the only campers tonight. It’s just Betsey and us, enjoying the Milky Way star show. $12 purchased us enough dry split wood to see us through for an evening fire each night.
The weather looks to be mostly dry and warm, and we are very pleased to be here.September is a superb time to find yourself enjoying the wilderness, especially anything away from the perennially packed approach trails to Katahdin where 90 per cent of people who come this Park congregate.