Catching Up on Summer Hikes – Baxter State Park in July

Wow. I can’t believe it’s been two months since I wrote a Snails on Trails entry. The Snails have hiked a few trails in the two months, but I’ve neglected my goal to document something about each one on this blog.

Oh well, life happens.

I did write about my big solo adventure at the end of June. Those 15-miles at the Castle in the Clouds were amazing. They also wrecked my feet. The next morning I woke up with excruciating heel pain. I self-diagnosed a case of plantar fasciitis in both feet. A month later, after little relief from the pain, I went to the doctor and had my self-diagnosis confirmed. If you’ve ever experienced plantar fasciitis you know how painful it is. Yikes!

But, as Earl will attest to, I’m a stubborn old Snail. I still continued to hike, perhaps a bit slower than slow, but I still hiked.

In July, we returned to Baxter State Park, the home to Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.

Here’s a quick summary of our 5 days at Baxter State Park: The weather was amazing! We climbed two 4,000 ft mountains (North Brother and Hamlin Peak). We hiked approximately 30-35 miles total.

After hiking North Brother, we discovered a cool place called The Ledge. We swam/floated in a mountain river (oh the joy of removing some hiker stank!). The water was icy cold and felt wonderful!

Two days later we hiked Hamlin Peak. Oh my goodness that trail was a tough one! Not that any of the trails on Katahdin are easy. It was a hot day and we were working hard to scramble up and over those rocks to reach the summit. Earl actually ran out of water!

Luckily there was a wonderful spring at the top so we were able to refill our water bottles. Pure, cold, yummy mountain water. Few things taste better (except maybe pizza or ice cream!)

As for wildlife…

We saw 3 deer, 1 fawn, 1 moose, half a dozen rabbits, 3 or 4 toads, a dozen squirrels, and a variety of birds.

One of the deer was a few feet off the trail. I saw it, stopped and pointed. Earl looked at ground level thinking I was pointing out another squirrel. He just is NOT impressed with squirrels. HA HA  When he finally saw the doe, he was pretty surprised that it seemed not to care that we were right next to it. I think he was even more surprised that I actually saw it. HA HA

Another deer walked thru our campsite on our final morning in the Park. It stopped to lick chicken bits off the grill as it walked by the fire pit.

The wildlife highlight was definitely seeing a moose! When we arrived at the Roaring Brook campsite, we checked in with the park ranger. Earl asked him, “Where are all the moose?” The man laughed and said, “People think this place is a zoo with moose around every corner.” Earl said, “But seriously, where are the moose.” HA HA

The ranger told us that moose are frequently spotted in one of the ponds not far from the campsite. He said it might be moose dinner time in about an hour.

We set up our lean-to and headed over to the pond. Sure enough, we saw a moose! We stood and watched her for 30-45 minutes. She walked out into the pond and started tearing up plants for dinner. Nom nom nom. What a beautiful sight!

We talked with some interesting people during our five-day stay: a couple of Appalachian Trail section hikers; one man who finished a thru hike a year or two ago; and other people just enjoying the gift of the park.

It was an amazing vacation, but like all vacations, it had to come to an end… which was probably a good thing because the hiker funk was starting to grow between my toes. HA HA ¬†Showers never feel quite so good as when you’ve gone without one for five days!

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