Debby “Bear Repellent” Roberts has been working on this thing for thirty years — and us helping for a while — not intentionally setting out to ever do the whole thing, however, as you’ll learn in the video. This is a longish one so make yourself comfortable, but what else could possibly come from a video featuring the Appalachian Trail (AT), right? This segment took place in Maine in both the Rangeley area and over in Baxter State Park where the team, led by Redline Guide Ken Hodges, tackled Baxter Peak on Mt Katahdin. Before getting started, though, NHPBS‘s “Windows to the Wild” beloved host Willem Lange asked for a little bit of time to chat and get to know Debby and joined us on the first leg of our backpack (with Redline Guide Nico Dubois portering). You’ll learn more about this story in the video.
Phil Vaughn, an NHPBS Producer, asked Debby this question: “How was the was hike to the summit compared to how you imagined it to be?” To which she responded with the following:
Hiking up Katahdin was an unforgettable experience. We lucked out with perfect weather for the hike — sunshine and not a cloud in the sky.
I knew it would be a difficult hike but was surprised to find it much harder than I had imagined. There were so many boulders, some the size of Volkswagens, to climb myself over and around.
At one point every step seemed like I could slip and fall into the valley below. I did have a panic attack and thought I could not make it all the way to the top. I even told Ken I was thinking of turning around and heading down.
Ken had me sit for a minute to compose myself and just said ‘let’s just do 5 minutes more.’ And so I went on! He said exactly the right words, quiet encouragement.
I cried when I reached the summit! I could not believe I had conquered both my fear and the mountain!
A group of teenage boys quickly passed me on the tricky rocks on the way up. I said to them, ‘next time you climb Katahdin bring your grandmothers with you!’ At the summit one of the young men approached and said ‘There is no way my grandmother could have climbed this mountain! You are amazing!’
Reflecting back on that day, I do feel amazing! It was a very difficult climb, physically and emotionally. I faced my fears and did it anyways. It was a humbling and joyful summit. I cherish the tears at the sign and am so happy to have had the experience to push myself farther that I thought possible. —Debby “Bear Repellent” Roberts
Amazing work, everyone! Thank you for adventuring with Redline Guiding!