Climbing Mount Katahdin - Baxter State Park, Maine
Knife Edge, Helon Taylor Route
Elevation Range 1480' - 5270'
June 30, 2015 - Baxter State Park is one of those rare places where government
does not have a heavy hand.  There are rules here, but friendly ones.  While it is
a "state park" it receives no funds from either Maine or the federal coffers and 
seems to be doing quite well on user funding alone.  The home of Mount Katahdin
is my kind of place.  Since the weather was good I waited until the seventh hour to
begin my climb of Maine's highest point in the hopes that some of the mountain's
own clouds would clear to make for better views at the top, which doesn't happen
very often.

After signing in on page two of the registration sheet at Roaring Brook Ranger
Station I high stepped it along the brook before making the cut onto the Helon
Taylor trail which would immediately go vertical in earnest.  While a lot of people
had already begun their hikes, only two groups of two were ahead of me.  The
Helon Taylor trail, named by Maine Governor Baxter for the park's first supervisor,
climbs through steep boulders and roots, essentially up a stream bed and through
high altitude black muddy marshes to finally reach above treeline along the Keep
Ridge to top out at Pamola at 4919 feet, gaining a quick 3600 feet in less than four
miles, an invigorating class 1 and 2 scramble.


                                                     Keep Ridge


                             Looking across the Knife Edge at Katahdin’s South Peak, elevation 5,240 feet.

At Pamola the clouds had broken enough with a bit of sunshine here and there that
you could view both the Knife Edge and Chimney Peak ahead.  While the views of
the surrounding pond-speckled landscape below were clear and sunny, the top
would be cloud-covered.  At least there was no rain and the wind was not much
more than maybe ten or fifteen knots in gusts.  Very pleasant day.  From the top
of Pamola the trail dips sharply down into a col becoming a class three scramble
for the first time.  I donned my helmet briefly behind two climbers above me on
the initial steep ascent out of the col.

The climb along the Knife Edge from Pamola to the top took a little more than an
hour, covering a little more than a mile.  Exposure along the route was never 
threatening; it was essentially a class 1 scramble across a fairly broad ridge and
not what I had envisioned as a true knife edge.  Nonetheless, I enjoyed the
boulder hopping and the occasional vistas of this beautful place.  People who had
approached Katahdin from the opposite side, on their way down the Knife Edge,
were pleasant, of all ages from 14 to 70, enjoying their own adventures.


After summiting I turned to return the 5.5 miles I climbed up to allow myself 
enough time to make the drive to southern Maine to meet Charlie Gadol who I
would backpack with the following day.  The downclimb was comfortable and I took
time to socialize with a handful of people coming and going.  It was a perfect
day to once again enjoy the mountains and backcountry of Maine and check off
another bucket list item.

                          looking back at the Knife Edge toward Pamola on return hike  


 Great Narrative and Pix HERE