Today, we were up and on the trail early. We wanted to ensure that we could get a site at the Birches Campsite, which has only 12 spots available for long-distance hikers each day. The signup sheet was located on an information board at the edge of Baxter State Park 0.8 miles from Abol Bridge. When we got to the information board, we were the first hikers to sign up. In retrospect, we could have eaten breakfast at the Abol Bridge Restaurant and walked to the Birches, starting at 7:30am.
After signing up, Lazarus took off and I followed more slowly. For 4 miles, the AT followed the Penobscot River upstream. I rock hopped across the Lower Fork of Nesowadnehunk Stream, and then another stream. Happily, I kept my feet dry. The trail turned uphill and passed Big Niagara Falls- which wasn’t that big (see photo). I slowly gained elevation, passing Daicy and Grassy Ponds.
At about 10 am, I arrived at the Katahdin Stream Campground and crossed the stream on a foot bridge to the Ranger Station. Lazarus informed me that he felt great and was going up Katahdin today. I didn’t have much energy, plus I was hungry. The ranger said tomorrow’s weather forecast was “sunny”. I decided to stay at Birches even though it meant lounging around the rest of the day at the campsite; I had no cell phone reception and no book to read. I paid $10, got my permit then walked one-quarter mile to the vacant Birches Campsite.
After setting up my tent and washing poison ivy juice from my legs, I cooked an early lunch and felt better. I walked back to the Katahdin Stream Campground to locate the AT and to scope out the hitching possibilities after descending from Katahdin tomorrow. Thirty cars filled the parking lot. It should be easy to ask a returning hiker tomorrow for a ride to Millinocket.
8/15/19 : Abol Bridge to Katahdin Stream Campground, 9.9 miles