A view into the Great Basin on my way up the Chimney Pond Trail.
Photo by Ryan Linn
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Baxter Backpacking, Day 1: Drive and Run

I returned yesterday from seven nights of backpacking in Baxter State Park with my friend, Tom. The trip had been more than six months in the planning, with campsite reservations made carefully in April and travel arrangements scheduled as tightly as possible.

Ryan Linn       Trip Report       08/26/2014
Ryan Linn
Trip Report
08/26/2014

I returned yesterday from seven nights of backpacking in Baxter State Park with my friend, Tom. The trip had been more than six months in the planning, with campsite reservations made carefully in April and travel arrangements scheduled as tightly as possible.

When the day arrived, last Monday, I was jittery with excitement. I’d been to the park three times before, but never hiked anywhere but on the Appalachian Trail. This week-long trip would be all new terrain for me.

Tom arrived at my place at 6 AM, and we set out from there. Breakfast at Dysart’s was our only stop, but even so, we didn’t arrive at the northern gate of the park until around 11:30.

After leaving Tom’s car at the northern end of the park, we drove my car 45 miles along the park’s dirt road to Roaring Brook, finally arriving at 1:30 PM. I was prone to outbursts during the drive, like “TOM! WE’RE F***ING DOING IT!” I was pretty excited about this trip.

It had rained in the morning, but all that remained of that were clouds covering Baxter Peak in the afternoon. It felt so good to be on a classic New England trail again, with its granite boulders and inconveniently placed roots.

Between the excitement and the feeling of being on my home terrain for the first time all summer, I sped up the Chimney Pond Trail ahead of Tom, and didn’t even bother stopping to check in.

Instead, I made a quick left turn on the Dudley Trail to climb Pamola Peak. The Dudley climbs 2000 feet in just under a mile, straight up the giant boulders to the eastern peak of Katahdin. I may have overestimated the shape of my muscles as I began the climb at 3:30 PM, marching right up to the top by 4:30. By the time I arrived, the clouds were just finishing the process of enveloping the summit, and then letting loose a weak drizzle.

I had thought of maybe crossing the Knife Edge at this point, but instead I listened to my better judgment and descended as I’d come up. The down-climb was even more difficult than the climb up, more like rock climbing and bouldering than walking. There were plenty of places where I used only my hands, and no feet to get down.

At the bottom, my legs were shaking and weary, but my mood was still ecstatic. The forecast was better than it had been all summer. I joined Tom in the bunkhouse and settled in for the night.

Here is Tom’s account of the day, with slightly more sensible hiking plans.

A tall green mountain sits below blue skies and white clouds.
Starting up the boulder field of the Dudley Trail, looking down into the Great Basin and Chimney Pond.
Photo by Ryan Linn
A trail sign covered in clouds marks a rocky junction on a trail.
Pamola Peak and the Knife Edge just before being swallowed by a cloud.
Photo by Ryan Linn

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Baxter State Park

Baxter State Park is home to Maine’s highest peak, Mt. Katahdin, as well as lakes and campgrounds. Bottom line, Baxter is worth the trip!

Learn more
170+ miles of trail (275 km)       $9.99 full guide
Turner Deadwaters, Baxter State Park, Maine
Photo by Ryan Linn
Turner Deadwaters, Baxter State Park, Maine
Photo by Ryan Linn

Baxter State Park

Baxter State Park is home to Maine’s highest peak, Mt. Katahdin, as well as lakes and campgrounds. Bottom line, Baxter is worth the trip!

170+ miles of trail (275 km)
$9.99 full guide
Learn more
Get our trail guide for this area!
About the Author
A man wears a blue shirt, blue backpack, and a tan baseball cap.

Ryan Linn

Ryan is also known as “Guthook”, which is where our apps get their name. Already an avid hiker, he hiked the Appalachian Trail, New England Trail, and Pacific Crest Trail before joining forces with Paul to create the Guthook Guides apps. Ryan handles iOS development for our apps from his office in Maine, and usually runs away to the forests and mountains throughout New England. He also volunteers with the Maine Appalachian Trail Club and the Natural Resources Council of Maine. Baxter State Park in Maine is his happy place.