~Mount Katahdin~
August of 2008

At the summit of Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park is the Northern end of the Appalachian Trail, with the other end at Springer Mountain in Georgia. Our friend Aaron had started hiking the trail at it's southern end a bit less than four months earlier and sent word to us when he was close to Mount Katahdin so we could climb Katahdin with him on his last day of hiking the trail. I did not know it while thinking about this hike, but somewhere along the trail Aaron had acquired the name Sir Bacon (not entirely sure why he got that name, but he did introduce me to some bacon that could be bought fully cooked and not need refrigeration - which I'm now a huge fan of), which I think had something to do with his desire to wear his chainmaille shirt and coif on his last day of hiking the AT. Some of the others who were in our little group also wore some of their SCA garb for the hike; and not knowing of any of these plans, I wore some pieces from my collection of 16th century Holy Roman Empire reenactment stuff - which has become my most versatile and comfortable clothing for hiking and running around in the woods. I wore it partly because I felt that my more mundane clothing would not perform as well as layers of wool and linen, and also to just get a better feel for how the clothing does act... though I did wear completely modern footwear. Partly because I do not yet have good period footwear, and I also wanted some traction while hiking and climbing - and good traction is something my semi-period looking Birkenstocks don't have... yet (as I write this, I am soon to be starting on some prototypes for 16th c. climbing irons or crampons).

I'll ramble on for a bit about my experiences with my choice of clothing for that day, and about the weather, and maybe some other things. The weather forecasts said there would be a pretty good chance of rain all day, with a slight chance of a thunderstorm - But Katahdin sort of has it's own little weather system going on over it, so who really knows.

My clothing and gear for the day was a linen undershirt and braes; the cut-off particolored hosen shown elsewhere on this site, pointed up to a light wool pourpoint; tall and thick woolen knitted stockings, held up around the knees by silk garters; my gray Rock/skirted doublet; and on my head, my wide-brimmed red hat over a wool coif... pretty much my standard outdoors-in-the-woods-wear for that summer. I also had a nice ebonized walking stick that I made the day before, which turned out to be a perfect length for wedging under my arm to lean on like a crutch and really helped in clambering up some parts of the trail. I'd seen many period (from several different centuries I believe) images of pilgrims carrying stuff slung over a staff on their shoulder, almost in stereotypical-hobo-fashion, so I tried that for a bit with my otter skin bag, and it worked very well for the flat areas of the trail at the top and bottom of the mountain - but for many parts of the trail I was actually using the stick for walking, for a little assistance with climbing, or just tossing it up over the rocks I had to climb up on the trail (or down over the rocks on the way down... my nice ebonized piece of driftwood walking stick carried many scars home with it at the end of the day).

At the time I think it seemed like a hellish hike for all of us, no matter what we were wearing because all of us accept for Aaron were rather out of shape from not doing much other than sitting behind desks for a few years. I remember thinking at the time that now that I've done this I don't ever need to do it again... but I often get a similar feeling while sea kayaking - "oh crap! I could die right now!"... but I'm still here and as always, that feeling is soon forgotten and I want to go out again to do something similar; and following in that pattern, I'd like to climb parts of this mountain again sometime and take along some of my recreations of 16th century climbing gear as well.

Taking a break on the lower
part of the Hunt Trail

Shawn climbing. The greenery
on this lower part of the
trail still had it's morning
dew so everyone got very wet.
Actually, the greenery down
here kept it's morning dew
all day.

Roy standing by the trail
where it got really steep...
and we had thought the area
in the last photo was steep.

It was very moist and foggy
all morning.

The trail is marked with
these white bits.

Foggy morning on the
"Table Land"


...and the Holy Grail for
an AT thru-hiker.

Obligatory photo of a climber
and the sign.

...and again with those of
us who could be snagged into
the photo, me, Aaron, and Mike.

Ye Olde Bronze Plaque.

Heading back down;
the fog is lifting!

I can actually see more than 20 feet!
The Hunt Trail pretty much follows
this ridge. For a sense of scale, if
you look real close you can almost
see people down on the lower end.

Behind me is a rocky nub
called the Owl, behind the
owl is a remote and boggy
pine forest called the Klondike.

rotating slightly to the right
from the last picture, we can
see Witherle Ravine and that
must be Katahdin Falls.

I think all of these photos, except for the ones with him in them, were taken by Aaron.