It wasn’t the tallest mountain I’ve climbed, nor the the largest elevation gain, nor the most difficult. But it was by far the most rewarding.

It was Katahdin,¬†“The Greatest Mountain.”

Katahdin is the northern terminus of the Appalachians and the oh-so-famous 100-mile wilderness in Maine. The mountain boasts plenty of peaks, the most popular, Baxter and Pamola, connected by Knife Edge. Knife Edge is a trail, if you will, in which hikers need to traipse over large boulders with massive drop-offs on both sides. FUN (if you ask some people).

My Katahdin trip with some fellow Maine AmeriCorps members was planned 4 months in advance and essentially, marked the end of my Maine (Bucket) List. It was my biggest trip of the year and included plenty of hiking, camping, camp food, bug bites, and sore legs.

We camped and hiked up Abol. 4000 feet of elevation gain in less than 4 miles. Most of it, like this:

Hiking on Abol Trail Mt. Katahdin Baxter State ParkIf you said, “holy crap”. My sentiment exactly. The best part? The Abol Slide was sliding. The loose gravel had us all screaming “ROCK” to those below us just in case. Lots of heavy rain in the days before loosened much of it up, making us ascend even slower. There was so much hand and foot action. Lots of hoisting myself onto large boulders. And lots of rests. But those rests weren’t all that bad. Since the grade was so steep, you had to carefully choose which boulder to chill on, but once you found the perfect one, it was time to take this in.

View from the Trail to Baxter Peak Mt. KatahdinAfter the sliding Abol slide, we were rewarded with a final, quite flat, mile on the Hunt trail to Baxter Peak–the tallest of all the peaks on Katahdin. We hiked for a mile on flat lands, a time to rest our legs, before re-enacting many photos at the top of Katahdin and tackling a part of Knife Edge. The peak and Knife Edge was filled with incredible photo opportunities. The summit was packed, as any beautiful summer day would be, but we took the time anyway to take in the scenery and rest our legs before our 5-mile descent on Hunt trail.

This hike took most of the day. Both the ascent and descent were some of the most difficult, beautiful, and enjoyable trails I’ve hiked so far. They absolutely tested me mentally and physically and I am oh-so-proud of myself and everyone in our group. Katahdin may not be the biggest or most difficult peak around, but just wait for the next post when you see what happened on the way down Hunt trail. Perhaps then you’ll understand.

Have you hiked Katahdin yet? What’d you like most about it?