Head in the Clouds, Mt Katahdin

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Video trip report: Youtube: Head in the Clouds, Mt Katahdin

This was a great trip. We camped at New England Outdoor Center up the road from the gate entrance. We didn’t beat the clouds, but no rain so the trails were great. The Knife Edge was tough and slow going, but the Chimney was more difficult overall, though brief.
The descent down Hamlin Ridge Trail was slow with many scrambles toward the end of the day. I would not change the direction of the loop if I had to do it again, as putting Knife Edge toward the end would be mentally exhausting.
Overall a fantastic hike and very glad I was able to do it.

Camped at New England Outdoor Center just up the road, first at the gate in the morning
Glance back at the line of cars building behind us
Once inside, we headed on trail
Headed up Helon Taylor to Pamola
Plenty of ripe blueberries all along the way
Kevin makes is way up a few boulder sections of Helon Taylor
A quick selfie as we catch some of our first views
Kevin looking into the south basin as we make some gains
Catching Kevin lining up the scrambles up to Pamola
The summit of Pamola with Baxter Peak(behind the sign) and the ridge down to the Tablelands
A look at the Knife Edge trail to Baxter Peak from Pamola
The first hump is Chimney Peak. We have to descend steeply to a col, then back up to reach it
Looking across the south basin with glimpses into the north basin. Hamlin Peak is in the clouds
Kevin please to reach Pamola
Kevin starting his way down to the col between Pamola and Chimney Peak
Once in the col, looking at the route to ascend Chimney Peak
Scanning up Chimney Peak. The blue blazes guide you, but still requires much care
Kevin figuring out how to negotiate around one protrusion up and to the left
Kevin surveys the range and basin from Chimney Peak
A precarious looking place to tie your shoe, along Mt Katahdin’s Knife Edge
Navigating the Knife Edge requires some balance on the always off camber footing
The blue blaze on Knife Edge suggests this narrow stretch, with nothing much below
We both elect the herd path around the less daunting way
As we slowly progress on Knife Edge, we keep an eye as clouds are rolling over the Baxter Peak from the north
Looking back down Knife Edge toward Chimney Peak and Pamola.
The clouds rolled over Baxter Peak from the north down into the basin, then back up over Knife Edge
We rose to meet the cloud ceiling just before Baxter Peak
Nearly losing site of Kevin in the clouds
Another hiker beside a massive cairn atop Mt Katahdin, Baxter Peak
Kevin classic summit selfie, with trademark sunglasses on in the clouds. Also waiting for photo opportunities were several Appalachian Trail finishers.
My summit selfie atop Mt Katahdin Baxter Peak, next to the iconic Katahdin summit sign, northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail
One of the AT finishers stepping up to the Katahdin sign atop Baxter Peak
The crushed stone bed of the Saddle Trail down to the Tablelands was annoying, glad it was short-lived
The flats of the Tableland and Saddle
The junction of Saddle Trail and Northwest Basin Trail on our way up toward Hamlin Peak
Back in the clouds as we reached the summit cairn on Hamlin Peak
Hamlin Ridge Trail crosses over the summit and down the ridge toward the basin ponds
As we begin our descent off Hamlin Peak, a brief look back at the large cliff wall just a few steps from the trail
Looking toward the basin ponds(upper and lower), with Hamlin Ridge Trail along the crest. North basin to our left, south basin to our right
A look back at where our day started, across the south basin, toward Pamola and Knife Edge
Upper/Lower Basin Ponds down below the Hamlin Ridge Trail
More looks into the south basin of Mt Katahdin from Hamlin Ridge Trail. Chimney Pond catches the mountain run off
Kevin filling up on ripe blueberries
Our work is not over yet, the Hamlin Ridge Trail is a bit slow going off the summit with many scrambles to negotiate
Kevin coming around some scrub as we near treeline on the Hamlin Ridge Trail
The Roaring Brook Campground and our ride is down beyond the ponds
Junction of Hamlin Ridge Trail and where we pick up North Basin Trail
Bright colored mushrooms were plentiful in the shaded stretches
This was a very long boardwalk over some drainage, quite unexpected in the wilderness
Looking over South Basin Pond toward North Basin and Hamlin Ridge Trail center
Now along the Roaring Brook, we reach cruising speed
The other side of the Chimney Pond Trail is a fright of another kind (see post about Whitewall bushwhack
A bridge over Roaring Brook which we bypass
The start and end of our big loop, 11.4 miles in 9 hours, including rests