The Knife Edge

Baxter State Park / Pamola 4919' / The Knife Edge / Baxter Peak 5267'

Chimney Pond Trail / Helon Taylor Trail / Knife Edge / Saddle Trail

Roughly 9.6 Miles 4000' Elevation gain

Dennis, Kevin, Laurie, Mike, Rick, picked up Kit and Kat along the way (Wendy, Mike and Steve also crossed the Knife Edge this day, but we didn't meet up)

My long awaited return to Baxter. It had been twelve years since my first and only trip in '99. At the time I (we) were pretty green in the mountains. We made it to Pamola, but took the Dudley Trail down to Chimney Pond in the heat and the bugs. This time I was almost thwarted by the weather again, but outlasted it. It poured Tuesday as I reached Millinocket, but let up enough to let me set up camp when I reached Bear Brook in Baxter State Park. I stayed the week with a great bunch of fellow hikers and we shared food, stories and good times for several days in camp as we waited for the rain to subside.

Rainbow at Sandy Stream Pond

White-fringed Orchid Platanthera blephariglottis

On Wednesday we attempted to hike despite the rain in the hope it would clear. No such luck. We hiked in to Chimney Pond in hopes of turning and heading to Hamlin, but we were soon soaked and instead had some lunch at the pond and headed back to camp. Most of my gear was soaked, so I spent the next day or so trying to dry out my boots and backpack just in case the rain stopped and we got to hike. Late Wednesday afternoon it cleared and I took a short hike along the Nature Trail at Roaring Brook where I found a somewhat rare orchid in the bog. From there I hiked over to Sandy Stream Pond in hopes of spotting a moose. I didn't get a moose, but I did get a rainbow. I took it to mean the rain was done and maybe we could hike next morning, but it wasn't to be.

Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum

It rained all night Wednesday and well into Thursday. With no hiking to be done I attempted to catch up on some sleep I had missed the night before, but that didn't work out as the road crew decided to grade the Tote Road and the noise was to bothersome to allow any sleep. It did clear a little, at least it stopped raining enough to go out on a pond drive. I made quick stops at Helon Taylor Pond, Togue Pond and Stump Pond, again in search of moose or deer, but I knew it was pretty much the wrong time of day to be looking.

Undercast on the Helon Taylor Trail

More Undercast

Friday had looked to be the best day weather-wise so most of us turned in early Thursday night in hopes of setting out in the morning. Friday morning broke damp and gray, but there was no rain. In small groups we set out at different times and with different trails and objectives in mind. I set off with Dennis and Mike, our goal was to climb the Helon Taylor to Pamola, cross the Knife Edge to Baxter Peak then down to the Saddle. From there we would decide if we would continue on to Hamlin.

Baxter Peak from Pamola

The Knife Edge from Pamola

We started out in a misty, humid forest, but we soon climbed right up and out of the clouds. As we began to get our first views the scene was amazing. As far as we could see to our south and east we looked out over the tops of the low hanging clouds. To our northwest Hamlin drifted in and out of the clouds and almost directly to our west and straight ahead the summits of Pamola and Chimney Peak rose before us. We soon arrived at the summit of Pamola where we got our first good looks at the Knife Edge and across to Baxter Peak.

Undercast from Pamola

On Pamola