It was a wedding gift. Tickets to ride. A honeymoon of an atypical sort. We like atypical things so we were stoked for it. Ordered up was a backpacking trip into Baxter State Park in Maine, home to the famed Mt Katahdin (5268′ Baxter Peak and 4756′ Hamlin Peak). On lead for this adventure was Redline Guide Arlette Laan. What follows is her telling of the tale along with some photos so kick back and enjoy.
An unexpected kind of honeymoon… (and better than many)
Most couples will go on a leisure beach vacation for their honeymoon but not my most recent two guests. They wanted mountain peaks and adventure!With one hard hike down I offered a mellow hike for day 2. At least I thought it would be a mellow hike. A 13-mile loop starting at Daicey Pond following the Blueberry Ledges Trail south to connect with the AT north-bound and passing by Baxter’s Little and Big Niagara Falls. All was well on the Blueberry Ledges Trail. A mossy trail, with beautiful bog boards, and wonderful cascades at the ledges. But as soon as we turned on to the Appalachian Trail (AT) northbound we encountered flooded sections. First we were able to walk around some and we figured it surely wouldn’t stay that way. I happened to hike in my sandals that day and walked straight on through even when it got deeper. To my surprise I found myself waist deep in the water with fish swimming around me!
And that they got!
They booked a guide for three days in Baxter State Park in Maine. Mount Katahdin was to be the feature of the trip. Baxter Peak, Hamlin Peak, and maybe the Knife Edge?
We met at Abol Campground where their honeymoon suite was to be a rustic wooden three sided lean-to. Fine dining was done on the picnic table in front where they cooked up some sausages and dehydrated meals. The romantic fire place had moist wood from the wood shed and took forever to light. But the rushing stream nearby created just the right ambiance while at the same time being the only water source since there are no faucets in the park. Needless to say, the privy didn’t not have a luxurious bubble bath next to it.
But they loved it, and they came to hike!
First off we did a bonus jaunt to the nearby Little Abol Falls. With the recent rains it was rushing beautifully.
Then on hiking day 1, we hiked up the Hunt Trail to Baxter Peak and down the Abol Trail. I figured they would like to see the metal rungs and semi bouldering on the Hunt Trail and it was part of the Appalachian Trail for added fun factor. Down Abol is a bit quicker with less scrambling but by no means easy. We lucked out with amazing weather and great views. Seeing what the Knife Edge looked like up close made the crew a bit hesitant on actually wanting to hike it later but we didn’t have to make that decision just yet.
Surely it would get better up ahead. Reality set in when we met south-bound AT hikers who told us there was more deep water coming up. At this point we didn’t feel like turning back and the thru-hikers had made it so we should be able to as well. Luckily my guests were up for the adventure and little did they know their trip would include a free river fording class. Fording chest deep pushing floating logs to the side we waded on. How was there no warning on any of the information boards about this? I had double checked all the info on closed trails ahead of time. This is crazy! (If you’re uncertain about this, check out this video.
Where the river flows into a side stream there is a pretty strong current and I test several spots for depth and flow. I decide on less deep with a bit more flow as the safest spot to cross. I show proper fording technique using trekking poles and we make it safely across. Back on dry land we once again enjoy the beautiful soft trails and mossy rocks. The short side trips to the Niagara Falls are well worth it. The power and beauty of the water is amazing. We’re smiling ear to ear! This is the life!
Back at the car we forego the planned canoe trip on the pond, we’ve seen enough water for one day.
We relocate to the Roaring Brook Campground and brave the black flies for another picnic table dinner. I introduce my guests to the luxury accessory of the bug net. Perfect honeymoon apparel.
The next morning we head out at 4AM so they could be back in time for some Maine souvenir shopping and a possible ‘lobsta’ dinner. It’s a stiff climb up to Hamlin Peak and with some minor bouldering thrown in for that last mile it’s quite the challenge. The sun is beating down on us on the ridge and we are rewarded with amazing views and sweaty brows. That Knife Edge looks cool but we’ll save that for some other time. For now Hamlin will do. The summit experience is very different from the one on Baxter Peak. We’ve got this one all to ourselves and the more dome shaped summit offers more leisurely seating. We can’t believe our luck with the amazing weather! On the way down we are relieved to get back to treeline where there is easier trail and shade! We cruise the last few miles back to the car where we congratulate ourselves on a successful adventure! A spa visit would be a welcome luxury after all of this but that’s not how this crew rolls! —Arlette “Apple Pie” Laan
Great lead, Arlette! And to the honeymooners, congratulations. We hope you loved your adventure honeymoon!