While the season may have changed calendrically to spring over the weekend of March 19-20, a group of five Foxcroft Academy students, three members of FA’s staff, and two guides from Alpenglow Adventure Sports chose to embrace the winter that still remained by ascending Mount Katahdin in Maine’s Baxter State Park. There was snow; there was ice; there were single-digit temperatures–by all measures but the calendar, it was still winter. Check out the photoblog below to learn of their adventure that started at Alpenglow Adventure Sports in Orono and took the group of Foxcroft Academy students and staff to Maine’s highest point during Maine’s most unforgiving season.
After all gear was checked at Alpenglow’s headquarters in Orono, ME, A group of five Foxcroft Academy students and three members of the Academy’s staff drove up I-95, through Millinocket, up the Golden Road, and into Baxter State Park for a two-day, one-night adventure up Maine’s highest peak. After Parking at Abol Bridge, the group registered and set out for Abol Campground where they would spend the night.
The adventure required lots of gear, and the group lugged heavy packs and sleds full of food and water, -15 degree sleeping bags and pads, and everything else needed to survive a March night in the woods and a winter ascent of Mount Katahdin. Pictured here, freshman Andy Yu is all smiles at the start of the five-mile trek.
Abol Campground was simple, and the group prepared for a night in the single digits, protected only by three walls, a roof, and the gear they hauled in.
Spirits were high, however, as Guide and Master Chef Pat of Alpenglow Adventure Sports whipped the group up some delicious ramen and pasta–lots of carbs and fat that would fuel the group the next day.
Once night fell, Alpenglow Guide Dick helped the group pour hot water into bottles that were to be placed in one’s sleeping bag for the night. The hot bottle would slowly release heat and take the edge off of the plunging temperature. With the hot-water bottles, everyone was also instructed to take into their sleeping bags: clothes for the next day, a hat, gloves, their boot liners, and a midnight snack.
5 am and wakeup came quickly, and the group packed and ate breakfast in the dark before hitting the trail at 7 am.
After about an hour of hiking, terrain got steeper and icier, and the group stopped to put on microspikes–half-inch blades that gripped the ground with every step. When paired with a ski pole, ascent was made much easier and safer.
Forming a caravan, the group inched their way up the mountain, navigating ice, snow, and large glacier-deposited rocks.
Teamwork was often a necessity. Pictured here, senior Hunter Giacomuzzi reaches up to grab ski poles extended by a fellow hiker.
The going was tough, and the group took breaks often to avoid overexertion, to refuel with snacks, and to prevent a buildup of sweat that would freeze later on the Tablelands. Not everyone made it look as good as senior Gabe Piquette does here.
Mr. Rob Canning, the group’s fearless organizer, is an ESL teacher during the week and an outdoor adventurer on the weekend. A river-raft guide when he was younger, Mr. Canning can not escape the pull of the outdoors. This year’s group of Foxcroft Academy students is the third he has led up Katahdin in the winter.
After hours of strenuous climbing up Abol Slide, which constitutes a pile of refrigerator and SUV-sized boulders, the group came to the Tablelands, a stark contrast in terrain. Now more exposed to wind, the group, like Harry Ma (pictured), protected their face and eyes from the sun and wind. Once to the Tablelands, the group still had a mile more to the summit.
Conditions were mild, calm, and “bluebird,” making for easy hiking and beautiful views that extended as far as Sugarloaf Mountain more than 100 miles away.
After more than four hours, four miles, and 4000 feet of climb, the group had made the summit of Maine’s highest peak. Breaking trail for most of the day, the group from Foxcroft Academy were some of the only hikers to make the summit. Standing here with the picturesque sign, the group became some of the first to be photographed with the sign in 2016.
Rising 5267 feet above sea level, Mount Katahdin falls just short of one mile high. Senior Blaine Robinson and Mr. Jeremy Koch go the extra distance.
Once atop Maine’s highest peak, the hikers’ day was just one-third done. They still needed to climb down, re-don their heavy packs, and hike out. Entering the homestretch, 15 miles and 9000 feet of elevation change into the day, the sky celebrated their achievements with a beautiful sunset.