Pre-Katahdin

Trip Start Jun 25, 2012
1
5
Trip End Nov 25, 2012


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What I did
100-Mile Wilderness Maine
Read my review - 5/5 stars
Baxter State Park Millinocket
Read my review - 5/5 stars
Mount Katahdin Millinocket
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of United States  , Maine
Monday, June 25, 2012

After landing in Maine on Monday June 25th, I was picked up by a guide named Phil Pepin. He drove an Asheville thru hiking couple and I a couple hours into rural Maine, where we stayed at his cabin for the night. The large 2-story cabin was built with Phil's bare hands; he was an interesting guy to say the least. A 3-time thru hiker since 1977, he was dubbed Quadzilla for his enormous legs since he was a bodybuilder prior to his first thru hike. Phil wakes up at 2 AM every morning to do yoga, Pilates, tai chi, and finally an 8-mile run: an impressive feat for a man in his 60s. We kicked back in his cabin for the night, as we drank 6-packs and he gave us the rundown on the trail. He often said "Katahdin ain't what you see on the whiteblaze forum or on the National Geographic channel. I don't care who you are, that mountain will chew you up and spit you the f*** out." Phil swears that he tells it like it is, and spent the night filling our heads with trail wisdom. He told us of the several aspiring southbound thru hikers this season who used his services, spent thousands of dollars on gear and planning, and then gave up right after the difficult Katahdin on day 1. I encourage any aspiring thru hikers to use his services, he couldn't have been more hospitable, wise, and interesting. We got up at 4:30 the next morning, and drove a couple hours to Baxter State Park.

As we entered the park, we approached a weather board. Forecast was rain and wind, and had been in days prior and for days to come. Although not ideal, the bright side of things is that the rain kept Maine's legendary bug swarms at bay, I actually didn't see a bug my entire hike of Katahdin. We pulled into a ranger's station where we went in and signed in. The ranger looked at us with a serious look in her eyes, encouraging us to wait off the weather, but Phil seemed to think I'd be safe, and I trusted him. She said to definitely not take the Abol trail up; an extremely steep trail of primarily boulders. Phil however suggested the Abol, saying that they're all steep anyway until you make it to the ridge, and that Abol was the quickest route. The rangers disagreed, driving my asheville companions to take the safer route and it was here we parted ways.

Phil and I then drove to the Abol trailhead, where i signed in again for safety reasons at a ranger's station there. After walking down the steps, another ranger comes running out and encourages me not to go up. He says "I can't make you stay down, but i can heavily recommend that you do. The conditions are too bad, take a zero day or two here in Baxter until the weather clears up." He told me of the 40 man rescue team they had sent up a couple days prior, and told me to not hesitate turning back if the conditions were unsafe past the tree line. I looked over to Phil, who seemed to give me a reassuring you'll be fine look. He asked if I was sure I wanted to do this, we shook hands, said our goodbyes, and I began hiking day 1.

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