Whenever I hike a new trail, I can't help but feel the same excitement I did as a kid opening a gift on my birthday. I wonder what I'll see along the way, even after I've done a thorough investigation on the internet and my paper maps and guidebooks.
After hiking Katahdin on a Monday, Adam and I suited up Tuesday to explore two more mountains within Baxter State Park. We rose with the sun (easy to do when you're sleeping outside) and hit the trail just after 7 am.
Hiking Baxter and Hamlin peaks on Katahdin is like riding a roller coaster--the fun doesn't stop until you're done the ride! It's one amazing view after another. I knew North and South Brothers wouldn't be quite that amazing, but I was optimistic!
Our first stunning view came as we stepped out of the trees onto the shores of a pond on the Marsten Trail. The reflections in the still water created a mirror image of the ridges above us, and a pale sun shimmered over the glassy surface.
The North Brother was our first objective. We cleared the trees and made the final approach, walking through a miniature forest of krummholz until we reached a haphazard collection of boulders at the summit.
All around us, mists and clouds swirled as Wednesday's rain drew nearer. The surrounding mountains rose around us, clear one moment and shrouded in clouds the next. In front of us, the massive bulk of Katahdin loomed in the hazy sunlight.
We summited South Brother next. I'll be honest; we almost skipped it. Even though the weather around us was beautiful, we could see rain clouds all around us.
I was so glad we took a chance and trusted the forecast rather than our eyes. We reached the South Brother's summit on a route filled with lovely, mossy sections and steep rocky climbs. The summit was completely different than its sibling; large granite boulders surrounded by low vegetation provided expansive views of the park, including the North Brother.
From the South Brother, the silhouette of Katahdin slipped out of the clouds, rewarding us with the best view we'd had of the mountain since we'd arrived at the park. We'd get a clearer one later on the day, but this one was breathtaking.
It was interesting to look across at that huge mass of land and know we'd been standing on the summit ridge less than 24 hours ago. I don't know if I've ever summitted a peak and not seen it before I climbed it.
Almost swimming...The sun flooded the trail on our way down; the views muted by the soft, misty light of morning looked entirely different in the bright sunlight. When we reached the pond, I was hot! I pulled my boots and socks off and almost jumped into a deep part of the pond, but Adam convinced me that it might be unpleasant to walk the last two miles in wet clothes and, consequently, wet hiking boots! It almost didn't work, but I did listen to reason.
A quick dip in the river, with Doubletop Mountain as a backdrop, was just right, and I didn't have to walk in wet hiking boots, which was probably a plus!
North and South Brother: If you're an aspiring 115'er, North Brother is one of the peaks you'll have to hike. South Brother doesn't count on the 115 list, but lists are just lists, and it's well worth the trip!