There was a time earlier today when I just wanted to quit hiking uphill and retreat the 7 miles downhill to Wassataquoik lean-to number two where where we’re scheduled to hole up for the night. Just a half hour into today’s hike, I was cold, wet and had no desire to ascend the 2000 feet from Davis Pond all the way up to Katahdin’s Hamlin Peak (4756’) in thick clouds with the air temperatures in the high 30s and strong clearing winds blowing out of the West.
There would be nothing to see but the inside of a freezing cloud.
My boots were still cold and totally soaked from walking. Lingering 40° wet coated the foliage that protruded into the trail. When I brushed against the leaves, cold water eventually saturated my shorts and ran down my legs into my boots and socks. My feet are wimpy when it comes to dealing with cold. My hands also suffer when the temps drop.
Just before I was going to split off from Guthook and Hans to retreat, cumulus clouds started forming, blue patches opened up in the sky, and was clear that the rain and dark clouds going to be history.
Hamlin is one of the three 4,000 foot Baxter State Park mountains that are on the New England 4,000 foot peaks list.
The other two are Katahdin, at five thousand two hundred and sixty eight feet and North Brother, at 4151 feet. While on top, we encountered only one other peak bagger trudging toward Hamlin Peak.
Today turned out to be a very good time to be on top of this mountain. Despite my hands being too cold to function, I was able to get my body heat up by jogging the flat expanse to and from Hamlin Peak.
Patches of ice were fund on top of rocks that dominated this landscape.
The views today were expansive, with views stretching to Canada on one side, and nothing but trees and lakes stretching 40 to 50 miles in all directions.
At the end of this twelve mile backpacking day, I was most pleased to have made the choice to keep going when it became painful to do so. The shelter of this lean-to along the Wassataquoik Stream nearby was a sort of homecoming. Approaching this lean-to, I begin to embrace the sense of completing a day well spent in the wilderness.