Mt. Katahdin, Baxter State Park ME
11/30 – 12/6/11
By Alan Cattabriga
Katahdin, late November. Doug, Fred, Chris and I are booked. All our friends thought we were nuts. I think the Baxter State Park Rangers did too. I guess I don’t blame everyone. After all, early season ice is a gamble, never mind the fact that this seasons start has been an on again, off again affair. To roll the dice on something being climbable in this remote place with the commitment needed? Ok, perhaps a little nuts. But there is something still very intriguing about going into this mountain with the earth still brown.
I know one thing, I’m not carrying a huge pack to Roaring Brook. Just the amount of wine, whiskey and food out weigh me. Add in the other gear and I’m totally out horse powered. From RB to Chimney Pond is only 3.2 miles so thats fine. I can make two trips if necessary.
On the day of our departure Doug gets a call from Ranger Rob. The gate is open and we can DRIVE to Roaring Brook! There is one tiny catch, we can’t leave the car there for if it snows, we’re screwed. Our orders are to park at the visitor center after we unload the gear. No problem, I’ll bring my mountain bike and ride the 8 miles back to RB. We laugh at this news and think “Now who is crazy for going in so early!!!”
Rob has one more piece of info though, it rained recently and most of the ice that was forming, fell. Yeah, who is crazy now. But ice is not our only goal, for Katahdin offers many wonderful adventures.
The places and the characters in the story below are a blend of both fact and fiction. Some events have been changed. Any resemblance to places, people, alive or deceased is pure coincidence and a dirty shame.
After an insane night in Millinocket, a night of partying with inked, edgy, Russian chicks, a bar fight and racing across the road in front of logging trucks, the day dawns blue and cold. A healthy serving of eggs & hash at Angelos Pizza Grill is consumed and we are off. There is not a speck of white to be seen along the drive in. We pass the gatehouse and motor the dirt road to Roaring Brook. A quick unload of our stuff at the bunkhouse ensues. Plastic bottles are filled with the plethora of liquors we brought. Jagermeister, Valpolicella Classico Superiore, Makers Mark, Fireball Whiskey, Root and Laphroaig. Alas, the amount of alcohol to empty bottle ratio is way off.
Thin but very climbable ice is ascended for hundreds of feet. A unique talus field greets us high on the mountain above the ice. As we weave thru its huge stones, our voices ring out with admiration of this beautiful place.
The mountain sweeps down and contours around in the quintessential ancient cirque form. This is the place where Pomola roams, but where is he?