Piscataquis County Highpoint Trip Report

Katahdin (5,268 ft)

Dates: July 4, 1963 and July 4, 1968
Author: Fred Lobdell

I was being transferred from Baltimore, MD to Fort Dix, NJ, and had to report on July 5. What better way to travel from Baltimore to central NJ than via northern Maine?

I left Baltimore around midday on July 3 and drove to Long Island, where I had dinner with my family and picked up my hiking buddy, Dick Bentley. Dick and I then drove all night, arriving at Baxter State Park around 9:30 a.m. on the 4th. The rain was coming down in buckets but we were young and stupid and we'd driven all night, so we started out.

Above tree line, as we started up through the boulder field, the temperature was about 40, the wind was about 40, and the rain was horizontal. We met only one other pair of idiots on our hike, a teen-aged couple who were descending the boulder field in short- sleeved shirts and blue jeans. We didn't linger and chat.

I carried our day pack containing our lunch, and Dick kept asking me if I'd like him to carry it for a while. I told him no -- I had one small warm, dry spot in the middle of my back and I wasn't about to surrender it. We found some shelter at the summit, ate our lunch, and started our descent. It occurred to us that if the temperature dropped a few degrees and the boulders became ice-coated, we might have an interesting and exciting descent, but fortunately that didn't happen. We got back to our car around 5:30, soaked to the skin and thoroughly chilled.

We stayed that night in a generic motel in Bangor. There was one thin blanket on the beds and a non-functioning heater in the room, but we were exhausted and slept anyway. I didn't warm up until the following afternoon, when I was napping in the passenger's seat using my jacket as a blanket, and with the July sun pouring in through the windows. I suppose I had a mild case of hypothermia, although I didn't know the word at the time.

Five years later we climbed Katahdin again, on a beautiful summer day. At the summit the temperature was around 60, there was a light breeze and fluffy fair-weather cumulus clouds floating in a blue sky, and you could see forever.