This weekend Lynn, Jeff, David, and I had lofty goals to do a Baxter + Hamlin peaks loop that included going over the famed “knife edge” of Katahdin. Of course all those plans went out the window when the weather betrayed us and winter came early.
First I need to start out this post by asking if y’all like my NEW blog theme!?!? It’s almost exactly the same as the old one but with BIGGER PICTURES! Unfortunately, my first post with the new theme consists mostly of crappy iphone pictures because I was too cold to get out my real camera. YOU’RE WELCOME!
Our original plan had been to make a grand loop by going up Helon Taylor trail, across the knife edge, summiting Baxter, crossing the plateau to Hamlin, and descending via Hamlin ridge and Chimney pond trails (map).
Then the weekend weather forecast said there would be 25-35 mph winds and summit temps around 10 degrees. “Well, okay, it’ll be breezy!” – said me, being overly optimistic. We decided to be cautious and ascend via Chimney pond, since if we took Helon-Taylor and it was too windy to continue there’d be no way to get to the summit of Baxter.
At the cutoff to Hamlin, David and I said bye-bye to Lynn and Jeff, since I had to bag Hamlin for the New England 4000 footers and Lynn and Jeff didn’t. As we ascended it started getting breezier… and breezier. We also saw the massive cloud looming over the summit that didn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. As we made it up onto the Hamlin ridge trail, we noticed that above us, the trees, rocks, and trail were covered in a thick coat of wind-blown rime. Oh, goody!
We started slippin’ and slidin’ as we slowly navigated the pesky rime-coated boulders. The boulders on Hamlin ridge are about as big as the boulders in the higher elevations of the presidential range… i.e…. pretty big boulders. That pesky wind also made itself hard to ignore and I started getting blown around like a …person being blown around by strong winds 🙂
We somehow finally made it up to the Hamlin summit, which seemed to take forever since we had absolutely no idea where we were on the trail thanks to the dense cloud layer, preventing us from seeing much of anything at all except for the immediate trail in front of us.
We were the only ones on Hamlin, and also the only ones on the plateau as we made our way towards Baxter peak in the barren, windy, wintery landscape (read: everyone else was smarter and went down). When we got to the Saddle we had to decide: keep going or head back down? David was in the “keep going” team because he’s dumb, and I was in the “going down” team because I was losing feeling in my fingers. Guess who won 🙂
The top of the saddle seemed to be funneling ALL THE WIND IN THE WORLD from lower elevations onto the ridge, and I felt very much like a rag doll in a wind tunnel as we slowly descended the steep, icey, rimey, trail. Luckily the wind was in our faces blowing us towards the ground behind us instead of peeling us off the trail, and we escaped to lower, warmer temps, quickly forgetting our temporary misery 😀
We happened upon Lynn and Jeff at the Chimney pond campground, who had said “f that” halfway up the Saddle and had instead decided to enjoy some snacks and lounge at Chimney pond instead. They are smarter. We had a casual stroll back to Roaring Brook and enjoyed some fall colors and some Millinocket “fine dining” (hehehe…sorry Millinocket). Oh and of course by the time we were 90% back to the car, the clouds blew off the summit and the view was probably great from up there. OF COURSE.
And that’s how I bagged Hamlin peak in some sketchy weather! THE END.