Saturday, June 9, 2012

Backpacking in Baxter

23 miles seems like a long ways to hike, especially if you throw in large packs and Maine’s highest mountain. But it’s only about 1 percent of the ground I hope to cover next year.

Last week I completed a week-long backpacking trip in the remarkable backwoods of Baxter State Park in Northern Maine. This little excursion was one part escape from reality, one part training for the over 2000-mile-long Appalachian Trail. It gave me a chance to test my equipment and see what worked and didn’t work. And partly to see if I could really survive out there.
Here I am at Hamlin Peak, at the top of Mt. Katahdin. I had to travel a long ways to get here, though. Read about it in my next posts!

It ended up being one of the best experiences of my life! More meaningful than the practice I got setting up camp and carrying a third of my weight on my back was the peacefulness of being in the wilderness. It sounds strange to say it, but there’s this huge sense of relief of having everything you need on your back. 

The weight of a full pack relieves the weight of the world. 

Baxter State Park is truly a unique and enchanting place. There is no running water, no electricity and no cell phone service. It really forces you to be self-sufficient. More importantly, it gives you a rare chance to get away from civilization. It is a protected piece of unspoiled nature, which is hard to come by in our culture. The ability to experience that isolation, to just sit and enjoy the sounds of birds chirping and spring peepers peeping is priceless.

My trusty sidekick Austin joined me as always, and we daydreamed of when we’ll be heading to Georgia to start the AT a year from now. We had a series of adventures, but we mostly just sat and took it all in.

Read all about our adventures in my next posts, coming soon!

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