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Thread: Katahdin Summit Sign Replacement 7/25/09 and North Brother 7/26/09

  1. #1
    Senior Member Adventurous's Avatar
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    Katahdin Summit Sign Replacement 7/25/09 and North Brother 7/26/09

    Several months ago, 7summits (HuiYeng) had read about the Katahdin summit sign replacement on the MATC website and asked if I’d be interested. She contacted, Lester, who was heading up the effort and signed us up. In addition to helping with the sign replacement, we decided that we wanted to hike North Brother while we were up there.

    7/25/09 - We decided to reserve space in the Roaring Brook bunkhouse for Friday night since we had to meet the work crew at Chimney Pond at 9:30. After a long uncomfortable sleepless night (when I made reservations - I had neglected to ask if the bunks had mattresses…now I know…they don’t) we got up at 6am to get ready for the day. We were happy to find that it wasn’t raining. We hit the trail around 7:20 and arrived at Chimney Pond before 9am. We talked to the ranger, Paul, who was also helping with the project – he said to enjoy the area and to meet back at the crew’s cabin at 9:30. We headed down to Chimney Pond to no views of the mountains since they were socked in. Within minutes, the clouds started to break and Baxter Peak and the Knife Edge started to reveal itself. The scenery was so dramatic and breathtaking that HuiYeng nearly screamed out with joy - the smile on her face was priceless!!! At that point, she decided that the Whites, Adirondacks, Catskills or the Green Mountains couldn’t compare to Baxter.

    We pried ourselves away from the beauty of Chimney Pond and met the crew at 9:30. There were 6 large pieces of timber, 4 small boards, the sign, bolts and tools that needed to be carried to the summit. We had instructions to regroup at 3 locations before reaching the summit – Saddle Brook, The Saddle, and Baxter Cut-Off. HuiYeng carried bolts, a hammer, socket wrench and an adjustable wrench. There was nothing left for me to carry so I helped pass the timbers in the steep sections of the slide. In addition to carrying the tools, HuiYeng also carried one of the timbers up a majority of the slide and part of the way after the saddle. From the Saddle to the Summit, we passed many people that were coming down. They all wanted their picture taken with the guy carrying the summit sign so it was a slow process getting to the top.

    Once at the top – everyone had their picture taken in front of the old summit sign for one last time. According to Lester, the sign is replaced every 10 years. The frame holding the sign hadn’t been replaced since 1977 and it showed. After pictures were taken and people layered up (it was damp and cold) – construction began. We moved all the rocks off the base of the old sign – many memento’s were revealed…a shell, a ring, a sardine can, etc. People began disassembling the old sign while others started to assemble the frame for the new one. For a crew of about 20 strangers, we all pitched in and worked in unison together. Once the frame was assembled (2 triangles) it was put into place, the small boards were nailed onto the triangles and then the whole thing was leveled. The next step was to gather rocks to pile on top of the bottom of the frame too keep it from going anywhere. Last but not least, Lester began to drill holes and bolt the new sign to the frame. It was an amazing feeling to watch the last bolt go into place on the new sign. To take part in the replacement of the sign was such an honor. It’s the start of the southbound thru-hikers journey and the finale of the northbound thru-hikers journey. It’s a sign that means so much too so many people. Before leaving, the old sign was placed below the new one for more picture ops. We also got a great picture of HuiYeng proudly holding the old sign.

    The replacement was finished but the old one still needed to be carried down to Chimney Pond. We were to wait at the same 3 places. HuiYeng and I carried one of the timbers down to the Baxter Cut-Off where we waited for the crew to regroup. Next stop was the Saddle – at that point, we decided that we would depart from the group since we needed to drive to Nesowadnehunk and set up camp. We said our goodbyes and headed back to Roaring Brook…arriving shortly before 6pm. We were starving by the time we got back to the car and luckily had leftovers from our drive up the day before.

    We spent the next 1.5 hours driving over to our campsite. It was beautiful, very remote and also convenient to the Marston trailhead. We set up camp, cooked dinner and relaxed by the fire while enjoying the clear starry night.

    7/26/09 We awoke to clear blue skies – the day was looking very promising. We made breakfast, broke down camp and made our way over to the trailhead. There was only one car in the lot. Our agenda was to hike North Brother and then go over to Fort to view the crash site. The trail up to the Mt. Coe junction was a beautifully maintained trail, not much mud to speak of. Also, the mileage up to that junction matched the mileage on my map – 1.3 miles. I couldn’t understand how we still had 3.2 to go as the sign showed because my map said 2.4 – the darn map was wrong!!! The hike up to the small pond over looking the col between the brothers was quite muddy but relatively flat. The climbing began after the pond. I huffed and puffed my way up to the col. I was fatigued from the day before and was still recovering from the bronchitis that I ended up with in late June. Katahdin was the first hike that I’ve done since June that I could actually breathe with both lungs – I never thought that I would summit after all the trouble I had getting to the top of Cardigan the previous Saturday. So…basically I was struggling to keep up with HuiYeng on the hike up North Brother. Once at the col – we expected the junction to be a short distance away so HuiYeng went ahead. It was probably a mile after we topped out. From the junction it was another .8mi to the summit. The trail was steep, wet, muddy and deeply eroded. It was a very long .8mi. Before we reached the exposed section, we saw someone ahead of us. It turns out that it was The Unstrung Harp. Once above tree line, we were subjected to strong winds and no views. We soon reached the top of North Brother (#107/NE115 for both of us) where Unstrung joined us for lunch – we found a nice spot behind the summit rock that was out of the wind.

    The clouds kept lifting to reveal views Fort. It wasn’t raining so we decided that we would head over to Fort as planned. Just as we began packing up, the rain started – we decided to head back to the car and come back for Fort another day. It rained all the way down to the pond – we definitely made the right choice to bail on the Fort plans. The muddy sections were even muddier now and we found fresh moose prints close to the pond…no moose sightings near the trail but we did see one shortly after we got on I-95. Once back at the car, we packed up, said our goodbyes to Unstrung and began our LONG drive home. Another rainy hiking weekend…wondering if we’ll ever see the sun again…oh yeah, we saw it for 30 seconds around mile 80 in Maine.
    Last edited by Adventurous; 07-27-2009 at 10:04 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member mookie's Avatar
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    nice kim,
    that was written very well! you must have felt honored to be part of that.
    now someday maybee ill see that sign!

  3. #3
    Senior Member Nif's Avatar
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    Nice work girls!!!! Glad to hear you had a good trip. Fort will still be there, now you have to plan the next time....

  4. #4
    Senior Member Tom Rankin's Avatar
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    Yeah, we'll be seeing the sign soon!
    Tom Rankin
    Volunteer Balsam Lake Mountain
    Past President Catskill 3500 Club
    CEO

  5. #5
    Senior Member mtnpa's Avatar
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    Good work and good fun. I've seen that smile on HuiYeng in Baxter

    Put those new found skills to work. I hear they need a new summit sign on Owl's Head
    Curiosity won out over good sense. We had a plan...

  6. #6
    Senior Member Darl58's Avatar
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    Nice TR and great memory to be there when the sign was replaced!!

    Can't wait to see the pics that i know Hui Yeng took!!

    I'm so glad it wasn't a total washout and you was able to summit!!
    You need special shoes for hiking - and a bit of a special soul as well. ~Emme Woodhull-Bäche

    "Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."
    -Gandhi

  7. #7
    Senior Member Jay H's Avatar
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    ohh, maybe I should sell the photos I got of the old sign on 7/19/09 on ebay...

    Way to avoid mookie, and looking forward to seeing the pictures!

    Jay
    You must go and you must ramble
    Through every briar and bramble
    Till your life is in a shambles
    Maybe then you will know
    -"You Must Go" - John Hiatt

  8. #8
    Senior Member MichaelJ's Avatar
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    That's got to be one of the most special ways in which to climb Katahdin, a once-in-a-decade opportunity. Way cool!
    May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. - Edward Abbey

  9. #9
    Senior Member Dave Bear's Avatar
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    Very nice TR and great planning to be there for the event! Kudos for participating in the work project on a great hiking day!
    The heart of the journey is in the path not the peak!

  10. #10
    Senior Member Silverfox's Avatar
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    What a great thing to be part of on a climb of no doubt New England's grandest peak..excellent work and report..

    I look at my pic with last year's sign and think it a bit shabby..but then again it shows the wear of weather and time..somewhat like myself
    # 44

  11. #11
    Senior Member HuiYeng's Avatar
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    To me that was a very neat trip, I've never been to Chimney Pond, have yet to see the mountain in such close distance. When the clouds lifted and revealed first just the outline of the ridge and then a little bit of the mountain at a time, I was in awe, standing at the foot of such a grand and rugged mountain.



    The worktrip is quite an experience as well, the Katahdin summit sign is a land mark for AT hikers and all of us who hike this mountain, being there when we retire the old one is quite a memory.

    The rest of the 116 photo-documentation.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Jay H's Avatar
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    Awesome photos 7Summits, I guess you guys and gals did not take the Knife Edge over? Could of used the bridge to put a gap over the Chimney to avoid a big PUD!

    Enjoyed the photos and LT#7 at Nes... field rocks! Including the muddy bushwack to get water.

    Jay
    You must go and you must ramble
    Through every briar and bramble
    Till your life is in a shambles
    Maybe then you will know
    -"You Must Go" - John Hiatt

  13. #13
    Senior Member The Unstrung Harp's Avatar
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    Awwwesome pics!!! When you said that the sign atop Katahdin was replaced, the wind blew away the part about YOU guys helping to get the job done. I thought you meant that it had been replaced before you got there. WOW. Very, very cool!!

  14. #14
    Senior Member mookie's Avatar
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    7-
    your phots are ok as usual!
    thanks for posting and sharing

  15. #15
    Senior Member roadtripper's Avatar
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    Very, very cool!

    Any idea what they are doing with the old sign?

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