Apparently, there’s no easy way down Katahdin. Not that I’m looking for an easy way out. But I usually look for the least steep way down, in hopes of saving my pathetic knees. So while we hiked up Abol (4000 feet in 3.8 miles) we decided descending down Hunt (4000 feet in 5.2 miles) would be the best way.
Hunt Surprised Me
I didn’t read up much about the trail as I normally do since we were told numerous times to descend Hunt and not Abol by rangers and Katahdin veterans. So when we had over a mile of flatland at around 4600 feet and another mile of flatland at around 1200 feet, what was in the middle was the surprise.
An exposed ridge with large boulders in which you found your own route down. But at least the footings were stable and rocks didn’t give way underneath us as they had on Abol, right?
Due to poor weather the day before, our group decided to change our backpacking night to another night at a campsite. But due to this last minute change, we were homeless for the night unless we could get to the ranger station before 4pm to (hopefully) find an available campsite. So two out of the six in our group ran ahead to reach the ranger’s station while the remaining four of us took the slower way down the large boulders.
Mostly on our butts.
And a few too many bathroom breaks. Oh, but we stopped for fun photo shoots, too.
We certainly enjoyed our descent.
The Challenge of a Mountain
Both the ascent up Abol and the descent down Hunt were physically grueling. But in the best ways possible. The sliding Abol slide made our steps up the mountain short and calculated. The sitting on our butts to dangle our legs over a large boulder in search for a foothold made for an interesting and slightly terrifying experience. That’s why we climb mountains, right? For the challenge.
There are days when I can’t remove myself from my couch and the ice cream carton. Then there are days when I spend 10+ hours hiking above alpine and over rock scrambles. The ones spent on the trails are the days that make me happy. These are the days I look forward to.
I look forward to the challenge, especially when the challenge confronts you on the easiest way down the mountain.
What do you think? Whether you hike, paddle, climb, or simply just explore, why do you do it? For the challenge?