Retirement Celebration Baxter State Park 9/16 to 9/20

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Well-known member
Jan 1, 2005
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Waltham, MA Jazzbo & Marty meet Bigfoot on Kenne
I retired from my job on 9/13. My trip to Baxter 9/16 to 9/20 was excellent way to celebrate! I don't normally post long TR, but figure long TR's on Baxter are of interest to many members for insight into working of the park. By coincidence I went to my nieces wedding down in Providence RI in August and met up with my nephew Ben who had to cancel out on booking he made to go to Baxter. I used his credit to fund most of my trip up there. I booked BH in Neso Campground for five nights, but skipped first night of 9/15 on account of weather forecast being not so hot. I arrived on cloudy overcast late Monday afternoon. Park maintenance people were grading the tote road with road grader and huge gravel truck. Big truck takes up practically entire road – I had to back up to slightly wider section to let it pass.

Rangers were nowhere to be seen at Neso CG. Never having stayed there before left much to the imagination as to what to do. I had to rely on previous online research and sparse signage at ranger cabin and BH. Bob and Barbie, a nice couple from PA was getting settled in the cozy cabin. Being midweek in mid-September there weren’t many people about. BH at Neso CG has small solar panel array and battery bank and lights. Being cloudy I had no idea how much juice was in battery bank, so I struggled to light the gas lights. I say struggle because I didn’t notice the shut-off valve in the corner of room where gas line comes in was closed. One lamp worked well, but 2nd lamp had bad mantle so I didn’t use that one. I had to go get some fire wood from shed and worked on getting a nice fire going in the wood stove which needed cleaning. I tried using my Svea Stove to cook supper. I haven’t used white gas stoves in long time so this took some extra time too. I decided I didn’t like this Svea because stupid key on the chain makes it big PITA. I used MSR Whisperlite for cooking during remainder of trip.

Mike and Cindy, a nice couple from Saint John NB arrived at dusk. Suddenly atmosphere changes from cold solitude to one of warmth and congenial companionship. I gave them a brief 5-minute low-down while they unloaded their gear. They established themselves in bunk room next to mine. We had very nice evening getting to know each other. They had booked cabin at Kidney Pond, but reservations were mixed up and they couldn’t stay there this night, but all would be fine for next two nights. We discussed weather forecast. Tuesday forecast was for cloudy and Wednesday was for sunny and clear. I decided to do something moderate Tuesday and wait for Wednesday to Fort and N Brother.

Mike and Cindy packed up and headed down to Kidney Pond. I was unsure whether to leave my gear or pack up entirely. I had decided to hike Sentinel Mountain the next day. Sentinel Mountain is reported to have nice view ledges with views of Katahdin massif and TH is at Kidney Pond CG. I had a hunch. What if I went there and just happened to find lodging at KP? I decided to pack everything and go down to KP, but not before stopping to pick blueberries in the meadows surrounding the cabins which were still plentiful in spite of lateness of season.



I drove to KP where I looked up Mike and Cindy at their lake front cabin. I noticed right away their cabin was a duplex! I asked them about this and they said yes they have rented both units. Their original plans was for two couples, but other couple had to bail out due to unfortunate circumstances. Yes I would be more than welcome to take over the room next door. Yahoo! My hunch proves to be correct! I happily and hurriedly unload my gear to new place. It was getting late for hike to Sentinel. I still had couple or 3 hours of daylight so I got ready and shoved off. Trail to Sentinel passes over glacial moraine for much of the route especially by the ponds so boulder hopping is typical. I traveled over mainly PUD’s before finally getting down to business of ascending sort of rocky slide leads up to col between two bumps which is top of Sentinel. Views were subdued due to overcast skies and higher summit was in the cloud bank, but was still impressive. Sentinel would be good place to visit on sunny day. Summit has small loop which I checked out before boogieing back to camp as dusk was fast approaching due to overcast skies. Total mileage was roughly 4 miles somewhat strenuous.

My neighbors Mike and Cindy surprised me by offering me a delicious steak dinner with wine on my return. What a nice surprise!!! We discussed plans for the next day. They were going to hike Katahdin from Roarng Brook. I suggested other routes, but they were positive they wanted to do it from that side. They were fully aware of long drive to TH and were taking steps to go to sleep right away and get up at 5:30 to make it work. My plans were to hike North Brother and Fort Mountains needing Fort Mountain for #99 on the NEHH list. I got up at to noise of Mike and Cindy next door getting ready.

We both got off early for our respective excursions. Within 5 minutes of my arrival at Slide Brook TH two guys named John and Tom from New Hampshire show up wanting to do my exact hike. Once again providence provides me with two congenial companions. They are a little leery of the bush whack to Fort but I assure them I am quite a good bush whacker, but am even better when I have some companions with me so we decide on the spot to travel together. Before long we are great pals and solitude is once again replaced with congenial surroundings. In addition we are in same senior citizen age group so we are hiking at similar pace.

I don’t know why but in spite of the 8:20 AM start time we only get to North Brother at 1:00. We relax and enjoy the totally awesome views for close to 30 minutes. Views were awesome on this fine day. Nearing summit of North Brother I took this snapshot view towards Coe and South Brother.


This view towards North Basin was my favorite.


I also liked the view we had of Doubletop Mountain where we started our trip at the Slide Brook TH.


We decided to shove off for Fort knowing it should take at least 60 minutes to get to Fort. The herd path is easy to find – just follow the cairns. It takes us bit longer than 60 minutes. We stop from time to time to decide which way to go. There are 2-3 blow downs requiring some deliberations. We stop to rest and re-fuel and enjoy views before heading back to North Brother at 3:00 and manage to arrive back at 4:00. We stopped to rest and re-fuel and enjoy the low angle sun and lengthening shadows in surrounding mountains. It was starting to look like we will be needing our head lamps and John and Tom’s ideas of bagging South Brother was looking very unlikely.

We focus on maintaining pace for brisk descent but still end up with one of us digging out the head lamp for last 15 minutes. John and Tom are in upper numbers of NEHH. They will continue to work on the list and hopefully next year we can meet up for our final peaks in Baxter. They need South Brother and Coe. I only need Coe. I returned to KP and are not surprised to find Mike and Cindy haven’t returned yet. I prepare my meal and eat it and wash up. Mike and Cindy returned at 9:30 exhausted, but happy. They just eat some crackers and cheese and want to go straight to bed. They ascended Katahdin via Saddle Trail and made last minute decision to do the Knife Edge and descend via Keep Ridge which is quite a long day for folks who are not regular mountain hikers. Cindy had some very frightening moments on the Knife Edge, but was very glad she managed to do it.

The next day was sunny and warm. Mike and Cindy had to leave for home the next day so we traded contact information and said our good byes. I had to figure out my plans for my last night. I had one more night booked back at the Neso CG bunk house, but decided to pay a visit the range station at KP. I inquired regarding availability for lodging at KP. It turned out #11 was available. They informed me #11 has the best view of Katahdin and is possibly most popular cabin at KP. I said I would take it. It is good idea to carry wad of cash for situations like this as they can’t process credit cards at Baxter.

The next day I did something simple. I did 4 mile out and back via AT to visit Big and Little Niagara Falls from TH at Daicey Pond. The weather was sunny and warm and the both falls were grand! Very difficult to capture entire spectacle of Big Niagara in one or two photos. For what its worth here are a couple.



I returned to my cabin and made some supper with food remaining. I was finally in solitude, but this time it was a happy solitude colored with memories of the many fine people I had met up with on this trip and life was good for a time.


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Congratulations! Welcome to the world of midweek hiking and lots of other excellent midweek activities that beat working. You celebrated most appropriately. Sentinel is indeed a great little view hike on a sunny day.