Granite Mon 2001

:: granitemon

By: John Clements

This was the first year of the Granite Mon Challenge, including the swim, the bike ride, and the climb up Mount Katahdin.

The swim went well. I don’t remember any details.

The bike part went well, too, unless you hold our late start against us. It’s pretty hard to get moving after a big swim like that. We all met at Justin’s house after a shower, and ate a wonderful breakfast (extremely belated thanks!). Riders this year included Ben Walker, John Clements, Justin Pollard, Andy Wanning, (anyone else?) and Juan, a remarkable guy who had made his own shoes. We started in the middle of Blue Hill, and rode northward past Penobscot, Orono, (more towns, anyone?) …. Our route paralleled the upper Penobscot River, and we had many scenic stops. Some not-so-scenic stops, too.

In a roadside accident, I munched my back wheel, and sat out the last ten miles or so, until everyone threw in the towel and tossed the bikes in the back of the chase cars and motored up to that motel in Millinocket.

The next day, in our haste to get to Baxter State Park, we managed to get two speeding tickets for three vehicles. Actually, it would have been three speeding tickets had Mark Read not signalled to us to pretend we didn’t know them.

We were fortunate to get into the park, and were assigned to the Abol trail—quickest route up the mountain, involving a long clamber over a huge rockslide that happened pretty recently—in the last two hundred years or so.

At the trailhead, we discovered that there was no running water in the park. Oh dear. Being young and dumb, we decided to chance it with the water that we had; somewhere in the neighborhood of 3/4 of a liter per person.

We made it to the top pretty handily, and sat and enjoyed the truly spectacular view. Even with the park’s restriction on entry, the summit was moderately crowded, but what the hell; there’s enough lonely grandeur to go around.

What’s more humbling is to arrive at the summit alongside the Appalachian Trail through-hikers, for whom this peak is the end of a very very long road. Our achievement seems pretty mundane in comparison. It’s strange to watch these people leave the peak; they’ve suddenly turned from through-hikers back into pedestrians.

The way down was harder; I ran out of water, and started to get really really thirsty. I started to mistake the sound of the wind in the trees for running water, and when I finally did find a brook, I threw caution to the wind and had a big drink.

Gee whiz, I hope someone has some pictures.