Posted by: Sand Squiggles -- Richard Modlin's Blog | October 1, 2011



Mt. Katahdin Across Daicey Pond

Some years ago I sat reading Hemingway outside a lounge of an Amboseli resort, a tot of scotch in my hand.  Across the grassland, Mount Kilimanjaro stood three miles in front of me.  Last week, sipping Yorkshire tea, I sat on the porch of a rustic cabin on the west side of Daicey Pond, contemplating the view of another notable mountain, Katahdin.  Like Kilimanjaro, Katahdin stood about three miles away, its pinnacle exposed above the expansive fir forests but not covered in snow.

Katahdin is the centerpiece of Baxter State Park that is located in north central Maine.  Depending on whether you are coming or going, the 5,268-foot summit of Katahdin, known as Baxter Peak, is either the terminus or the head of the famous Appalachian Trail (AT). To fully complete their quest an AT “Thru” hiker (one who treks the entire 2000-plus-mile distance to or from Springer Mountain, GA) must plant his or her feet on Katahdin’s peak. 

I contemplated the challenges Katahdin places on AT “Thru” hikers.  The AT passes through Daicey Pond campground.  From here it is a seven- to twelve-hour trek to the summit, depending on the fitness and stamina of the hiker.  

Clouds atop Katahdin

I met one such hiker on this trip, a young, handsome, healthy-looking fellow from California, as I slogged along a portion of AT that ran next to a roaring river.  He was moving at a near jog.   For the moment he came next to me, he slowed to chitchat and introduce himself as Squatch, his trail name.  He told me that he had hiked several of the long trekking trails in the USA when he came up behind me.  Squatch then hurried ahead and yelled back, “I’m trying to catch up with my girlfriend.”  Since I had not encountered her during my time on the trail, she must have been several hundred yards ahead.  “She jogs on the trail,” I heard him say as he rounded a bend and disappeared among the trees.  Either Squatch got a slow start, I thought, or his woman was a more apt trekker than he.  Though I suspect, his lag behind her was due to his sociable nature and stopping to talk to folks like me along the way.

Whatever, these “Thru” hikers are a diehard bunch, literally.  Yesterday I read in daily news where an AT “Thru” hiker became ill on the trail, but continued on his trek because he was within two miles of reaching his destination, the summit.  Others found him and went for help.  The ill hiker was taken off the slope and to a hospital, where he later died. 

Fog Rolling down Katahdin

Now that’s a do or die attitude.  Once upon a time I may have wanted to travel every byway and climb every mountain, but now I content myself by contemplating the subtleties that take place in challenging and wild places.  Like Kilimanjaro, Katahdin’s image changes with the lighting throughout the day and with meteorological conditions.  These changes are fun to watch and photograph.

Sun Rising Behind Katahdin

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© Richard Modlin copyright 2011


  1. very good blog

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