Well today was the day. I woke up around 5:30 and opened the curtains to see a sunny day that looked like it had begun long before. I had to re-check my watch. Maine is weird. By 7 I was at Katahdin Stream Campground and after grabbing a daypack and signing myself out, I headed out of the campground on the Hunt Trail (also the AT) up Katahdin. The sunny day brought many blessings, and one of them was actually being able to see "the Greatest Mountain" from 4200 feet below. Another blessing was not having to walk through a stream running over the trail. Praise Pamola!
The first mile was really nice with barely any elevation gain, then it started getting steeper. That trend continued until I busted through the treeline and I was greeted with a couple of rebar handholds, and so began the hand-over-hand scrambling. I loved it, but it was pretty tiring. After following the white blazes over all the boulders that looked like someone crumbled a giant block of feta cheese on the top of the mountain, I reached the much flatter table lands, where I caught up with the Sobros, the optimistic group from yesterday. I followed them up the following gentle slope to Baxter Peak, getting to know them along the way. The peak snuck up on me, and before I knew it I was posing for pictures behind the sign and relaxing with my new buds on the surprisingly comfortable top of Katahdin. The views were amazing. Ponds were scattered all over the flat land nearby and the mountains turned blue in the distance. I couldn't believe I was really there.
When we were done snacking at mile zero, we turned around and technically started our sobo hikes, walking the five miles back down to the campground. The hike downhill was pretty uneventful, just some jello legs as I got towards the end.
This first day changed a lot about how I perceived the trail. It was the hardest 10 miles I have ever walked. It erased any cockiness I ever had about this undertaking. I am excited for everything that's ahead, and I'm really tired. I anticipate these blog entries getting a lot shorter. So happy to have one day under my belt.
Commentary: Unfortunately, my mom was not able to climb all the way to the summit with me. Some of the moves were surprisingly difficult, and so she volunteered to stay in one spot and wait while I summited. With the knowledge I have now, I would have known that this hike might have brought her out of her comfort zone. I just didn't know what we were getting ourselves into, despite reading exhaustively. Sometimes you can't learn a lesson until you've lived it. I also feel horrible because my mom was relentlessly mugged by black flies as she waited for me. If you haven't experienced those buggers, consider yourself lucky. They seem small and innocuous, but their bites are extremely annoying. My mom looked like she had been beat up at the end of the day.