Four years ago, when we could travel the world pre-COVID, I had the chance to climb Mt. Katahdin at Baxter State Park in Maine, USA. This ambitious climb was the first test of my body to see if my new healthy lifestyle was working. Challenging nature’s elements is undoubtedly the best way to see where your body stacks up after years of neglect. Fortunately for me, overcoming this beautiful challenge reinforced my resolve never to take my health for granted again.
Mt. Katahdin is a beautiful mountain range situated near the heart of the State of Maine. Nestled among one of the most beautiful untouched coniferous forests, Mt. Katahdin is a beautiful sight to behold, let alone stand on. I was fortunate to be guided by a friend who had scaled its mountainside many times before, so I did not worry about being ill-prepared.
We arrived at Baxter State Park the evening before. We planned to wake up pre-dawn and give ourselves the best chance at summiting before noon. The early timing would provide us with plenty of time to get back off the mountain before sunset the next day.
To keep our load light, we travelled with minimal water. Instead, we would hike a few hours and then fill up from the freshwater lake at the mountain’s base. Even saving a couple of pounds of water keeps hundreds of pounds of weight off your legs and feet.
For the first few kilometres, we scaled trails of rocks, boulders and tree roots. The air was so unbelievably fresh; I could feel my sinuses clearing with each step. Becoming more connected to the wilderness, my anxiety about what I was about to do became eased as we hiked along.
While the base of Mt. Katahdin is not all that steep, I could still feel as though our elevation was gaining. It wasn’t until about 3 hours into our “climb” that we finally saw that we would have to scale some height. Shit got real as we began climbing some mildly steep rock faces, and as we made our way up, looking down became a little unnerving.
It wasn’t long before we got to one of the plateaus of the mountain. There were only small trees up here, and different plants that I had never seen before. You could tell that whatever grew up here was bombarded by every element nature served up. While we were nowhere near the top, we cleared the tree canopy below and could see for miles in every direction. All I wanted to do was take pictures of this breathtaking moment, but our job wasn’t done yet. We still had a bit of hiking to do.
When we summitted the top of Mt Katahdin, my senses were once again on guard. There was nothing but crystal clear air all around us, and the loud sound of silence was nothing that I had ever experienced before. Even though I was with friends and a few other brave hikers atop the tallest mountain in the State of Maine, I felt alone, but not in a bad way, but in solitude that only comes after you’ve accomplished something significant in your life.
After an hour of soaking in the summit and eating a quick lunch, we began our long journey back to the face of the earth. The climb down wasn’t so nice to my body, as the ungentle thrashing of my body weight stepping down thousands of boulders and rocks put a lot of stress on my knees and feet. On our five-hour road trip home, my knees throbbed in pain, reminding me of the toll that gravity has on our bodies. Even though my legs were beaten down, I was riding the high of scaling one of the most beautiful places on earth.
One day, I hope to get back to Mt. Katahdin and once again soak in the beauty that our world generously gives to us. Pictures never do any journey justice, but they serve as a badge of honour to the soul’s memory.