Guest Author - Phyllis Doyle Burns
The Appalachian Trail begins at Springer Mountain in Georgia and journeys for 2,179 miles through fourteen states in the U.S. The trail follows the ridge-line of the Appalachians of Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, where the trail ends on Mount Katahdin.
Experienced hikers who have travelled the entire trail from end to end are called "thru-hikers" and are very familiar with the small towns the trail passes through, the rivers to be crossed, some of the highest peaks of the Appalachian range, the wilderness, remote shelters, the wild life, and the astonishing beauty of the land.
Rising to 5,268 feet, Mount Katahdin is the highest mountain in Maine. It is located in Baxter State Park in east central Piscataquis County. Sugarloaf Mountain at 4,250 feet is the second highest point in Maine and is over one hundred miles to the southwest of Katahdin.
Katahdin is a Penobscot term meaning "The Greatest Mountain". The Penobscot people are indigenous to Maritime Canada and the northeastern United States, particularly Maine. Along with the Abenaki, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, and Mi'kmaq nations, the Penobscot are an important part of the historical Wabanaki Confederacy. In early days of the European settlers, the land of the Wabanaki (Dawnland) was called Acadia, which is now most of Maine, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
The Wabanaki peoples called this land Dawnland, because it was believed that Katahdin was the first place where the morning sun struck, due to it's great height.
Katahdin is in the center of Baxter State Park. The park is open year round, with strict regulations in the winter months. Overnight camping is from May 15 to October 15 each year. Day use parking at the trail-heads are strictly limited to avoid overuse or the trails.
The park has no electricity, running water, or paved roads. The environment is kept as wild as possible and consideration of wildlife is of great importance, thus, audio and visual devices are prohibited in ways that would disturb or harass the wildlife
For the serious hiker and mountain climber, the hike most looked forward to is the "Knife Edge". This is a narrow ridge between Pamola Peak and Baxter Peak. It is not an easy trail to traverse and certainly not for a beginner. During high winds, the Knife Edge is closed to any hikers.
Baxter State Park and the Katahdin trail is for those who love to "rough it" with outdoor activities.
For informative trip planning and a safe time at Mount Katahdin, check out their web sites first.