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Baxter State Park: 2/27/22 - 3/2/22

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  • Baxter State Park: 2/27/22 - 3/2/22

    Day 1, Feb 27th – Abol Bridge to Kidney Pond

    On Sunday morning, Boghollow, BillB, Fiddlehead and his fiancee, gracepoints, and I met up at the Appalachian Trail Café in Millinocket for breakfast. After our meal, we drove to Abol Bridge and began packing our sleds. gracepoints and I would ski while everyone else hiked. When we were loaded up I quickly realized that our sled was too heavy for me to pull on skis, so I changed into my hiking boots for the hike in. We didn’t have any mountain views on the way in, but the trail was packed down from people hiking out that day.

    Crossing Foss and Knowlton Pond

    When we crossed Foss and Knowlton Pond, we followed tracks to the northwest corner, while the more used trail is on the north shore of the pond. There was a trail for us to follow, but it was narrow and went steeply uphill. After a short distance, we came to a junction and picked up the more packed trail again. The rest of the hike to Daicey Pond was problem free. Once we were past the cabins at Daicey, we found that Nesowadnehunk Stream was not completely frozen, meaning that we had to continue on the park roads to Kidney, adding almost two miles to the hike.

    Once we made it to Kidney, we began settling into our cabins – getting fires going in the stoves, figuring out water sources, etc. A few hours later a ranger stopped by for a quick chat and to give us the last weather forecast we would get.

    We had three days in the park, and we had hoped to hike Katahdin one day, have a rest day, and then hike North Brother the third day. The forecast didn’t match that plan. Based on the forecast, it would make the most sense for us to hike North Brother on Monday and Katahdin on Tuesday.
    ADKHP Wiki

  • #2
    Day 2, Feb 28th – North Brother Peak

    Monday morning we set out for North Brother. The forecast was for cold temps and wind, with a wind chill of -38 at the summit. We had four miles of road to cover to get to the Marston trail head. gracepoints and I would ski the road, while everyone else would walk. It was a chilly trip since we were on the west side of the peaks, mostly in the shade. We made good time to the Marston trail head, changed boots, and put on snowshoes. The register indicated that it had been seven days since the last group hiked North Brother, but the trail didn’t have too much fresh snow.

    Along the Marston Trail

    Buried trail junction sign on the Marston Trail

    Fortunately, those conditions persisted, and it wasn’t long before the sun came over the peaks and gave us a little warmth. The Marston trail is mostly mellow with a steep climb in the middle, and another steep climb at the end. At tree line, everyone added layers, goggles, and face masks so that there was no exposed skin. We kept snowshoes on, which were fine for the terrain. Crampons might have been better, but the distance above tree line is short enough that it would have been a pain to switch to crampons and then back to snowshoes shortly after.

    Near tree line

    We got to the summit, took a couple of pictures, and then got back to the trees as fast as we could. Taking a glove off for a few seconds to get a picture was as much as I could stand, but as long as everything was covered from the wind, it wasn’t bad.

    Group shot on the summit

    Back below tree line we stopped for a break, and then we headed down. Once we reached the trail head, gracepoints and I switched back to skis and made good time back to the cabins. We were back at Kidney Pond in the mid afternoon and made the rounds, getting fires going in all of our cabins. We then skied out on the pond for a nice view of Katahdin. We went to be early Monday night, since we would make our attempt on Katahdin on Tuesday.

    Doubletop Mountain and Nesowadnehunk Stream

    Katahdin from Kidney Pond
    ADKHP Wiki


    • #3
      Day 3, Mar 1st – Katahdin

      Tuesday morning we set out for Katahdin. The forecast was warmer with less wind. Since the Nesowadnehunk Stream crossing wasn’t an option, we had some additional mileage on our hike. We would start out with six miles on the road to get to the Abol trail. Once again, gracepoints and I would ski the road, while everyone else would walk. We were moving a little slower, but still made good time to the Abol campground and the trail head. The register indicated that a group of three had been up the trial the day before, so we felt good about conditions.

      First view on the trail

      Initially the trail passes through open birch woods, and has views of the mountain. Boghollow had been to Baxter just a few weeks prior and he had seen moose tracks in this section. We didn’t spot any moose or tracks. There is a new section of trail which avoids the Abol slide – I found this section to be quite nice. When we got to tree line we switched from snowshoes to crampons. Above the Abol slide there is a section of trail through boulders and ice. There were a few tricky spots in here, and we slowed down a little. Eventually we reached the shoulder of Katahdin, where the mountain almost flattens out into the table lands, and the hike becomes pretty mellow for the last mile or so to the summit of Baxter Peak. At this point, the combination of snow, ice, and rock makes it feel as if you are on another planet.

      Above the Abol slide

      Going across the table lands

      We got to the summit of Baxter while it was still sunny and not too windy, but looking to the west we could see snow moving in. After some summit pictures we started toward Hamlin Peak. There were occasional snow drifts, but we were mostly on rock and ice. The toughest spot was as we started to climb to Hamlin, there is a section of krummholz that was filled in with snow and we could see where the trial went. Fortunately, it didn’t take long to find a way through that back to rocks and ice.

      Group shot on Baxter Peak

      On the summit of Baxter Peak

      Looking at Pamola Peak and the knife's edge

      At Hamlin’s summit, we got some pictures and kept moving. The wind was picking up and the sun was gone. As we headed back toward Baxter we were walking directly into the wind and dealing with things like fogging goggles, cold hands, etc. We fought through the wind and blowing snow back across the table lands to the steep descent down Abol. Although we would be descending the southwest side of the mountain, once we dropped over the edge, we were protected from the wind. The descent was slow and tricky at times. In addition to having to navigate some steep portions, there was new snow that covered everything just enough so we weren’t sure what was underneath – rock or ice.

      On the way to Hamlin Peak, looking back at Baxter Peak as the snow moves in

      Group shot on Hamlin Peak

      Making the descent above the Abol slide

      We were all happy to eventually make it to tree line and put on snowshoes for the rest of the descent to Abol campground. It was after 5:00PM when we got to the campgournd, and still had the six mile road section back to our cabins. With our skis on, gracepoints and I hoped to cover the miles quickly, but the fatigue of multiple days of skiing and hiking kept us at a slower pace. After about two hours on skis we were back at Kidney Pond and starting to make the rounds of getting all the fires going. We hadn’t been back very long when Boghollow and BillB got back. They were close enough behind us that I hadn’t even gotten to their cabin to start their fire. After preparing and eating dinner, I couldn’t keep my eyes open and it was straight to sleep.
      ADKHP Wiki


      • #4
        Day 4, Mar 2nd - Kidney Pond to Abol Bridge

        The plan after leaving Baxter was to get one more Maine 4000 footer on the way home. With another full day left in the park, one option was to stay and take a rest day. However, the last known weather forecast indicated that we should leave the park and hike Thursday rather than take a rest day and push the last hike to Friday.

        Along the park road

        Crossing Foss and Knowlton Pond

        We packed up our things and got a more leisurely start on Wednesday. There were several inches of new snow, which wasn’t ideal for hiking, but did make it a little easier on the sleds. The hike out was uneventful. We had views from all of the pond crossings on the way out, but the clouds never fully lifted off of Katahdin.

        Katahdin from Abol Bridge

        By the time we arrived at Abol Bridge, most of us had decided to skip the last intended hike of the trip – Mount Abraham. However for Fiddlehead’s fiancée, it was the only remaining 4000 footer that she needed in Maine in winter, so they stayed around and got the peak on Thursday. The rest of hit the road, making our various ways back to New York.
        ADKHP Wiki


        • #5
          How easy was to reserve this cabin and how much did you pay for it?


          • Kyler
            Kyler commented
            Editing a comment
            We reserved the cabin at the end of December. Daicey Pond would be a more ideal location, but when we made the reservation there wasn't anything available there. There was no one else at Kidney Pond while we were there, so I think as long as you aren't looking for Friday and Saturday nights, Kidney Pond is pretty easy to get into.

            I think the cost was around $555 for 4 nights. That is for a cabin that sleeps six people. The cabin was split into two rooms that each have three beds. There are smaller and larger cabins available as well, but I don't know what the prices are for different sizes.

          • Yury
            Yury commented
            Editing a comment
            Kyler, how many cabins are there?

          • Kyler
            Kyler commented
            Editing a comment
            Kidney Pond has 12 cabins, but it appeared that some were not being used this winter. I'm not sure if that's standard policy to not use them all, or if it is a reduced capacity issue with Covid.


            Daicey Pond has 10 cabins.


        • #6
          Thanks so much for your trip report (I like how you broke up the long rea ports into shorter posts for each day). Looks like you had a good crew. Photos were also wonderful—brought back memories—albeit our trip was in summer. ; ). Good hiking to you!
          46/46, 25/46w "I only went out for a walk, and concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in." John Muir


          • #7
            Brings back memories! We stayed at Roaring Brook and Chimney Pond for a few days and Nesowadnehunk for a few days, with a night out of the park in between. More hiking in and out, but easier to access the respective peaks.
            Tom Rankin - 5444W, etc., etc.

            Web Master - NY Forest Fire Lookout Association
            Member #0003 - ADKHP Foundation
            Volunteer - Balsam Lake Mountain
            Past President - Catskill 3500 Club
            CEO - Views And Brews


            • Kyler
              Kyler commented
              Editing a comment
              If we do another winter trip, we'd aim for either Roaring Brook or Chimney Pond, and forget about North Brother.

          • #8
            Great trip! Excellent Pictures! Great People.
            Congratulations to all.
            "Climbing is about freedom. There's no prize money; there are no gold medals. The mountains are all about going there to do what you want to do. That's why I'll never tell anyone else how to climb. All I can say is, This is how I prefer to do it."
            Ed Viesturs


            • #9
              Thanks for the great report and pictures. Awesome trip.
              Catskills: 39/39, 35W/35W
              ADK: 46/46, 5W/46W
              NH: 2/48


              • #10
                Great trip and report. Dream about doing it one day.