View Full Version : Sunrise, sunset ...Katahdin and Washington in a day

06-22-2004, 07:41 AM
OK, we didn't stay for the sunset on Mount Washington, but it was a better title than "Hey, we're stoopid!" We did consider the sunset thing initially, though, and eventually decided against it.
So, about three weeks ago, I got an email from Dave whom I attended MLS with a couple years ago. He had an idea to organize a trip to do Washington and Katahdin in the same day. He had reservations for a lean-to at Roaring Brook so was looking for three others. He already had found one guy to go and for some reason it sounded like a great idea to me so I agreed to go as well.
I started off for Baxter State Park Saturday morning and arrived through very heavy rain at Roaring Brook at about 3 PM. After putting my stuff in the lean-to, visiting the ranger and doing some reading (one bit of reading was the notice at the ranger's cabin about a possibly injured deer who has already attacked several parties of hikers between the Helon Taylor trail jct. and the first bog bridges on the Chimney Pond trail), Dave arrived. Everyone he invited to come had had "other plans" (translation: "Uh, no way, dude") and the third person had canceled so it was just the two of us. It was still raining but not too hard. He got situated and we went into Millinocket to eat. We decided on the Appalachian Trail Café (where the potato salad is served "in season" only). After inquiring as to whether or not it was currently potato season in Maine (it was!), we placed our order. While eating Dave came across an interesting article in the local paper about a man and his daughter who had just started out on an attempt of the AT southbound. Unfortunately, they never even reached the summit of Katahdin when the father fell and dislocated his shoulder. Make that shoulders, both of them.
You, the reader, may be asking yourself, "Do they see any bad omens accumulating here? The rain, the attacking deer, the lack of partners, the guy dislocating his shoulders?" Well, no we didn't (remember we thought this was a great idea in the first place so, clearly, our judgment is questionable at best).
It had stopped raining and was clearing nicely so, back in the park, we took the little jaunt to Sandy Stream Pond and back without incident. Things were looking up! We were in bed by 9. Dave snores.
We awoke at midnight and were signed out at the ranger's cabin by 12:15 AM. As we walked the trail, I said, "Dave, turn off your headlamp and look up.". The sky was crystal clear and full of stars. The temps were surprisingly warm. Absolutely gorgeous. We passed through the deer attack zone with no sign of the wily offender and considered ourselves lucky. We arrived at Chimney Pond to wind and cold at about 2 AM. We paused for some pictures and continued on our way. We had chosen the Cathedral trail for our ascent (again, remember, we have no critical thinking skills).
Luckily for us the Cathedral trail was extremely well blazed (both freshly painted for easy viewing and spaced close enough together). We were very careful to make sure we saw the next blaze before we moved ahead. The winds became increasingly strong and gusty (I was guessing 30-40 mph with gusts in the 50's). At times we had to hunker down and wait for the wind to quiet a little before we could move. As the reader may know, this trail require extensive scrambling with the use of hands and feet. I was "uncomfortable" in a couple different spots, but we made it through without our nerves being frayed too much. As we climbed the sky began to slowly lighten. It was awesome to see the features of Katahdin slowly emerge as the dawn broke. The knife edge in silhouette...really cool. I wanted to get more pictures at this point but the combo of low light and high winds made getting a focused picture almost impossible. We reached the upper Cathedral around 4 and the summit of Baxter Peak at about 4:30, just in time for sunrise. It was quite cold and very windy (now steady at 40-50, with higher gusts). After getting knocked over by the wind and dropping my camera, I ducked behind the giant cairn and waited for the sun to rise. We got some pictures and headed down the Saddle trail (no thought of the Knife edge in that wind - hey maybe we do have some ability to make some good decisions).
We were back at Chimney Pond by about 6:15. It was still windy and cold, the pond was an awesome Caribbean blue/green color with lots of whitecaps. After spotting a moose in the woods, we were back to Roaring Brook at about 7:30. As we signed out, Mr. Ranger was lecturing some day hikers on the porch regarding proper gear and precautions. We mentioned that, "yeah, it was pretty darn windy at the summit." He said, "yesterday?" We said, "no, this morning at 4:30". He said, "well, we disapprove of that sort of thing, you know." Thank you Mr. Ranger (He had also declared the knife edge closed for the day).
We were out of the park by 8:15 and on our way to Pinkham Notch. Stopped for gas/food and got in about 1:45 PM. Ms Information Volunteer was skeptical when I asked if TRT was open yet, she reminded me it was like winter on top and late in the day to be starting. Thank you Ms Information Volunteer. We were headed up Tuckerman Ravine Trail by 2. It was much warmer now, but very little humidity, a really great day. I felt pretty good, but could not get much power from my quads. We got to Ho Jo's at about 3:10, though. I felt like I was really slowing down on the section above Ho Jo's but below the headwall, but then it seemed like we did the headwall pretty fast.
It was better (believe it or not) on the summit cone and we reached the summit, surprisingly to me, at just after 5. It was cold and pretty windy with these big rime chunks blowing everywhere. I'm not sure where they were coming from (it seemed they were too big to be from the atmosphere, I thought something may have been dripping water and the low temps and high winds were forming them into these chunks), but they hurt when they hit you.
We lounged inside the Obs for about an hour eating and talking with the people. Here's a hint: When you buy a hot chocolate and a Reese's cup at the summit cafeteria, put one of the Reese's into the hot chocolate and let it melt in there. Yum!
Anyway, back to the story...We rejected riding down the cog and riding or walking the auto road and decided to be men about it; we started down the TRT at about 6. My knees were quite unhappy about this turn of events, but everything else was working pretty good. We got back to Pinkham at about 8:20 (after cursing the whole lower end of the TRT - why don' they just pave it and get it over with).
19 miles, 8000 feet of elevation gain, and a five hour car ride in 20 hours on 3 hours of sleep.. Surprisingly I felt fine to drive home and so I did getting in at about 11PM.
This turned out to be an incredible day, awesome views, a wonderful adventure. The weather, even with the cold and wind, really could not have been better. The Cathedral trail at night in heavy winds was priceless. Pictures are at the link below.
BTW for those interested: My puppy Nelson Crag (named after one of my favorite spots/trails) got his first two 4 k's (Ike and Pierce) a week ago. He's four and a half months old and a beautiful boy, even if I do say so myself. Picture of him and that trip also at the link below.

06-22-2004, 09:45 AM
Wow! That's quite some ambition! I am glad you two stayed safe! I enjoyed viewing your photos from the trip--gorgeous sunrise from Katahdin. I still haven't had the chance to climb Katahdin...last time I was there, they weren't letting anyone up there because of inclement weather. Perhaps this summer or fall.

By the way, I was at MLS that year that you and Dave were--I was working for AMC and hiked with your group for a bit taking photos, and then burg, I think I ran into you at Pinkham the summer after. Glad to see you are both still hiking up a storm!


06-22-2004, 11:55 AM
Very nice and well wrote report! And gorgeous pics, especially the ones taken on the first Cathedral with the orange sky behind the Knife Edge's silhouette. Wow! Makes me want to do this!

Actually I already tried that on Hurricane (NY) in March 2002. We started at 3AM and wanted to reach the summit before sunrise. Alas, the trail was very icy and time consuming, we arrived maybe 15 min. too late. But still it was splendid up there. I also saw a sunrise in the middle of Dudley trail in January 2003. Snow covered Baxter and Hamlin were painted in pink for a few minutes. Unforgettable!

06-22-2004, 08:20 PM
I can't believe my eyes, you really did this!! Great pictures, glad you made it safely!!

06-23-2004, 07:24 AM
Hi Katie! We do seem to keep crossing paths, don't we? Have you had any more pics published? Hope you get back to Baxter, it is a unique place and, of course, the Knife Edge is one of the top "must do" hikes in the Northeast
Already the trip is seeming like it wasn't that hard. It just took some persistence. We really lucked out with the weather.
Now that I have done this, anybody up for a Presi Traverse with sunrise from Madison???

06-23-2004, 07:49 AM
Nicely done. Heck, I barely made it to Russell Pond on Saturday with all the rain! Suinday was a beautiful day to hike, but I;ll bet the winds were howling up top (we were on Hamlin on Monday, and though cloudy, it was not too windy).

Well, now you have to go back to BSP and slum around for a few days!

06-23-2004, 07:57 AM
You tryin' to say I didn't pay my dues? Well, you're right. Not on this trip I didn't. I do love BSP, but have not gotten to much other than Roaring Brook and Chimney Pond to stay and the 4K's to hike. I do need to get back and get to the other areas of the park.

06-24-2004, 08:24 AM
Not paying your dues? I think your drive alone paid the dues! Sunrise on Baxter Peak is more like payment in full. Reading your report, envy was my first emotion :)

I was quite surprised at the beauty on the hike to Russell Pond. Prior to doing it, I thought it a necessary evil to getting to Davis Pond. Bong, I was wrong! I can't wait to get back there. I'm starting to see that once the higher peaks are done, the Park's true mystique unveils itself. My next trip is hopefully to Wassataquoik Lake (either this or next year) which I've read is arguably the most beautiful in Maine (I read a lot, I need to see for myself more!)

06-24-2004, 09:21 AM
Originally posted by SherpaKroto
I can't wait to get back there. I'm starting to see that once the higher peaks are done, the Park's true mystique unveils itself.

Amen to that!

You're right about the drive though. I think my left arm is the part of me that was most sore the next day -- from checking my watch on the drive from Baxter to Pinkham. Man, I thought that would never end.

06-25-2004, 03:17 PM
That trip is worthy of an article in Yankee Magazine - you should seriously think about writing one.


06-25-2004, 03:24 PM
That's a terrific trip! Good for you guys. You really should write it up for Appalachia or Yankee!


06-25-2004, 05:49 PM
Interestingly Dave had hooked up with a reporter from a paper called The Day in Connecticut. Not sure how that happened, but she was talking of writing some type of article about it. She had several ideas (not all of them for the paper), but I have not heard from her since the day after.
I guess it is a fairly unique trip (no one here has mentioned that they have done it). That seemed to be an aspect that she was interested in.
I'll certainly post something here if anything comes of it.
Thanks guys.


06-25-2004, 10:10 PM
Hi Bill,
I guess I'm going to remember Summer Solstice 2004 for the rest of my life. I came up with this idea about climbing to the Roof Top of Maine and the Roof Top of New Hampshire both in the same day almost a year ago. And I wanted it to be a Summer Solstice Event. But didn't tell anyone about it until 3 months ago. When I started looking for some really strong Hikers that can function well with very little sleep. The ones I originally found all got cool feet. They told me that what I wanted to do is impossible. Then I asked you about it. And you were extremely excited about doing this. You said, What a Great Idea!!!
I really enjoyed climbing up the Cathedral Trail in the dark with 50 MPH Winds. And then Bagged the Summit of Katahdin just before it's earlist Sunrise of the year. It just doesn't get any better. The 50-60 MPH Winds at the Summit wasn't even a issue for us. We are the only 2 people in the United States that saw Summer Solstice Summit Sunrise from Katahdin in 2004. The ROCKS!!!
Another part of the event that I thought was Really Cool was when we were nearing the Summit of Washington and a bunch of Hiker were on their way down the Mountain, and they said to us. You guys got started a little late. So I said, well we Bagged Katahdin in the morning, and now were Bagging Washington in the afternoon. Their respose was: That Impossible, Your just joking right, no way, and this type of stuff. We were dead serious though.

08-08-2004, 10:21 AM
Anyone interested in repeating this climb? in mid-Sep?
I just moved to NJ from CA and am looking from strenuous hikes, mountaineering, climbing, bike, paddle, anything outdoors

08-09-2004, 07:28 PM
You saw Bills great Photo's of this Event. I just join WEBSHOTS so you can see mine also. There's some really good ones of Sunrise on Katahdin.


08-10-2004, 09:28 AM
Most excellent shots! Just how fast did you drive to get from Katahdin to Pinkham wnad ready to rock at 2:00PM? :)

Nice meeting you on Marcy!

08-10-2004, 11:59 AM
You sissies! Next time I expect you to hit Mansfield, too! :D :D :D

Great photos!

08-10-2004, 05:58 PM
Hay SherpaKroto,
I'm glad I got to run into you on your exciting 10 Summit event. The 250 mile drive from Katahdin to Washington took us 5 1/2 hours. We left the Baxter State Park Gate at 8:20 AM arived at Pinkham Notch 1:50 PM. We didn't speed, but only stopped for Gas and a McDonalds drive threw. It was 2 cars, we followed eachother.

08-11-2004, 08:03 AM
Originally posted by CrazyDave
... only stopped for Gas and a McDonalds drive threw...

So you made one stop?;) (and a nice Freudian slip: "threw" as in "up" vs "thru")

08-13-2004, 05:11 PM
Hay Trailbiscuit - We actually did discuss hitting Mansfield Too. Bill seemed like he really wanted to. But, I was thinking in my mind. If we took a shorter break at the Summit of Mt. Washington, it still would have been around 9:30 PM by the time we reached the base of Mt. Mansfield. It would have been Dark all the way up and down Mansfield. So we wouldn't have gotten to see anything at all. We had already completed our intended Goal! So we each headed home after a totaly Exciting and Rewarding day.

08-17-2004, 11:56 AM
Hey all,
Just back from Alaska, not a hiking trip per se, but we did get out a little. I will post a trip report and pictures soon. Anyway, just wanted to comment on this thread since it got semi-revived. We did talk about Mansfield, but it was not part of our original plan and so we would not have been able to do it within the 24 hours anyway. That would be an interesting hike to attempt.
We did just make the one stop, as you say, Sherpa. That's what propelled us up Washington ;). Actually, I had a ton of food and cold drinks with me in the car, so I pretty muched chowed the whole way. Being able to eat is a major motivator for my hiking. Also, that was not a Freudian, Dave just can't spell :)

11-21-2004, 02:53 PM
It's been awhile since we did this. But the AMC CT Chapter FCG Newsletter wrote a nice Story on our event along with some pictures. So I decided to share the Story they wrote with everyone. Just click the link;


11-22-2004, 08:17 AM
Dave, shameless self-promotion, always good :) Nice! What's the plan for solstice 2005, Marcy and Mansfield? (uh oh)