Monday, December 21, 2020
Start/end: Daicey Pond cabins
Elevation gain: 5168′
After going to bed at 8pm and sleeping fairly well, with only a little tossing and turning, I was up at 4am. I prepped for the day and then headed over to cabin #10 to meet everyone for a 5:02am departure (start of solstice). It took a few extra minutes for folks to get their things together, so we took off at 5:15am.
We hiked across the pond and turned onto the AT, following that to the road near Katahdin Stream Campground. We then headed down the road to Abol Campground and started our hike up the Abol trail. We were able to make the summit of Katahdin Baxter by 10am, despite some trouble wayfinding on the top half of Abol. We found ourselves above the clouds with a beautiful undercast, with sun and blue skies and almost no wind.
From Katahdin Baxter, we headed down to the saddle between Baxter and Hamlin and then hiked up to Katahdin Hamlin. From the saddle to Hamlin, we were slowed down by knee-deep snow with hip-deep drifts and no discernible trail. Closer to the top, we found cairns and that helped speed us along.
After summiting Hamlin, we went back to the saddle and then up a bit to the Baxter Cutoff trail. The Baxter Cutoff had no cairns or blazes that we could see and we just had to make it up as we went, trying to follow our GPS track through knee- to hip-deep snow. We eventually broke out onto the trail we’d taken across the Tablelands, very close to the Abol-Hunt junction.
From there, we headed down the Abol Slide. We took our time coming down the first section, which was steep and sketchy, covered in wet, melting snow. We then cruised down in beautiful sunlight, until we entered back below the cloud cover, where it became cloudy, damp, and cool.
It was very warm for what we were doing, around 30-35, and I hiked in my short sleeves for most of the day. I think I may even have a mild sunburn on my arms and face.
I only brought 2 liters of water with electrolytes with me, and I had to ration myself and showed signs of mild dehydration. I’m going to bring 3 liters tomorrow, and bring my treatment drops in case we pass by running water. Tomorrow, we head to Coe, North & South Brother, and Fort.