“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau
Why This Mountain?
Tami has long wanted to hike on the East Coast. She has selected mountains that would represent different ranges and states in order to see as much as she can in a short time. Mount Katahdin was tops on the list as an homage to the Appalachian Trail. It marks the Northern end of the famous trail. It is also the highest point in Maine and everyone says it’s a beautiful hike.
Mountain & Route Facts
Mount Katahdin (pronounced”kə-tah-dən“) is the highest mountain in the U.S. state of Maine at 5,267 feet (1,605 m). Named Katahdin by the Penobscot Indians, which means “The Greatest Mountain”, Katahdin is the centerpiece of Baxter State Park. It is a steep, tall mountain formed from a granite intrusion weathered to the surface. The flora and fauna on the mountain are typical of those found in northern New England. The mountain is generally referred to as just Katahdin.
Katahdin was known to the Native Americans in the region, and was known to Europeans at least since 1689. It has inspired hikes, climbs, journal narratives, paintings, and a piano sonata. The area around the peak was protected by Governor Percival Baxter starting in the 1930s. Katahdin is the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, and is located near a stretch known as the Hundred-Mile Wilderness.
There are many hiking and climbing routes to the top of Katahdin. Tami (joined by Rose) hiked the Hunt Trail which is the last 5.5 miles of the Appalachian Trail. The almost 11 mile hike has 4,272′ of gain and requires bouldering and scrambling for the middle 3 miles. This is quite a long stretch of bouldering and in a few places rebar is in place to help ascend. There is a fair amount of exposure. The last mile and a half is mostly over even ground with about half a mile of additional light scrambling at the end.
The most famous hike to the summit goes along Knife Edge, which traverses the ridge between Pamola Peak and Baxter Peak. The mountain has claimed 23 lives since 1963, mostly from exposure in bad weather and falls from the Knife Edge. For about 3/10 of a mile the trail is 3 feet wide, with a drop off on either side. The Knife Edge is closed during periods of high wind.
Historical and Cultural Information
Katahdin is part of a laccolith that formed in the Acadian orogeny, when an island arc collided with eastern North America approximately 400 million years ago. On the sides of Katahdin are four glacial cirques carved into the granite by alpine glaciers and in these cirques behind moraines and eskers are several ponds. Black bears, deer and moose can be found on Katahdin.
Among some Native Americans, Katahdin was believed to be the home of the storm god Pamola, and thus an area to be avoided.
The first recorded climb of “Catahrdin” was by Massachusetts surveyors Zackery Adley and Charles Turner, Jr. in August 1804. In the 1840s Henry David Thoreau climbed Katahdin, which he spelled “Ktaadn”; his ascent is recorded in a well-known chapter of The Maine Woods. A few years later Theodore Winthrop wrote about his visit in Life in the Open Air. Painters Frederic Edwin Church and Marsden Hartley are well-known artists who created landscapes of Katahdin. On 30 November 2011, Christie’s auctioned Church’s 1860 painting Twilight (Katahdin) for $3.1 million.
Maine is the northernmost state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is also the the easternmost state in the contiguous United States. It is bordered by New Hampshire to the west, the Atlantic Ocean to the south and east, and the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec to the east and north, respectively.
For thousands of years, indigenous peoples were the only inhabitants of the territory that is now Maine. At the time of European arrival in what is now Maine, several Algonquian-speaking peoples inhabited the area. The first European settlement in the area was by the French in 1604 on Saint Croix Island, by Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons. The first English settlement was the short-lived Popham Colony, established by the Plymouth Company in 1607. A number of English settlements were established along the coast of Maine in the 1620s, although the rugged climate, deprivations, and conflict with the local peoples caused many to fail over the years.
As Maine entered the 18th century, only a half dozen European settlements had survived. Loyalist and Patriot forces contended for Maine’s territory during the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Maine was part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts until 1820, when it voted to secede from Massachusetts to become an independent state. On March 15, 1820, it was admitted to the Union as the 23rd state under the Missouri Compromise.