Tag Archives: Baxter State Park

64 Year Old Hikes the Appalachian Trail

Memories of beautiful views and scenery will always be with Adams County resident Ron Birt, who recently completed a 2,200 mile trek of the Appalachian Trail. (Provided photo)
Memories of beautiful views and scenery will always be with Adams County resident Ron Birt, who recently completed a 2,200 mile trek of the Appalachian Trail. (Provided photo)

WEST UNION, Ohio — Every year thousands of people hike the Appalachian Trail, but only a few hundred will complete the full length of the roughly 2,200 miles of trail from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine.

Those who finish the entire trail in 12 months or less are called “thru-hikers”.

This year, Ron Birt from the West Union area was one of them.

Setting off from Springer Mountain on Feb. 24, Birt arrived at the summit of Mount Katahdin in Maine five months and one week later on Aug. 1.

Weeks ahead of schedule, he became one of the approximately 19,000 people who have “thru-hiked” the trail since it was established in 1937.

64 Year Old Hikes the Appalachian Trail

Every year, more than two million people hike the Appalachian National Scenic Trail – one of the most famous and longest hiking trails in America. Referred to as the “Appalachian Trail” or the “AT”, the route is approximately 2,181 miles long – making it the longest continuously marked footpath in the world.

As it follows the Appalachian Mountain range, the trail passes through the states of Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

Virginia boasts the most miles of trail – about 550 miles, while West Virginia claims the least with only four miles.

While maps are useful for trekking the AT, according to Birt, hikers can follow the trail simply by keeping an eye out for marks on trees and stones called “paint blazes”.

A former Bellefontaine police officer, 64-year-old Birt and his wife Denise moved to Adams County shortly after his retirement in 2013.

Looking for a challenge, he attempted to thru-hike the AT at that time, but was turned back when he developed a blister on his foot.

“I only made it half way,” he says. “But I learned from my mistakes and this time I knew how to prevent blisters so I was able to make it the whole way.”

To prepare himself physically for the trek, Birt trained on a treadmill and spent weeks packing a backpack on extended walks near his home.

“You can’t just jump up off the couch and start walking the AT,” he says. “As much training as I did, when I got out there, I decided to take it slow in the beginning, so I was able to increase my miles per day as the weeks went by.”

Starting out, Birt carried a 30-pound backpack filled with heavier winter supplies, a tent, a sleeping bag, cook stove, blow-up air pad for sleeping, one change of clothes, hiking poles, a water filter, and a four-day supply of food. When summer arrived, he lightened his load by sending his winter supplies home.

He never allowed the enormity of what he was attempting to discourage him.

“I didn’t think about that,” he says. “I took it one week at a time and always kept my goal simple – reach the next town.”

Trekking up and down unfamiliar mountainous territory isn’t without its dangers.

Hikers must be wary not only of the terrain, but also of the wildlife they’re likely to meet.

“I ran into four different bears, but they didn’t pay much attention to me. I saw rattlesnakes and copperheads, but they didn’t try to at strike me,” says Birt. “There was all kinds of wildlife, but I had no problems at all from that.”

The greatest danger Birt would face came not from animals, but from the weather. He awakened one morning in the Smokey Mountains to find himself buried under a heavy blanket of snow.

“I woke up in my tent, and it was completely dark. I thought it was night time, but in fact, it was daylight,” he says. “I dug myself out and hiked to the nearest cross roads through thigh-high snow until I got to New Found Gap where I called to have a shuttle come pick me up, but it was so bad, the roads were closed, nobody could get in or out.”

Birt, another “thru-hiker”, and a family of eight who were also hiking the trail, were forced to find shelter for the night.

“There was a heated restroom at the Gap which was unlocked, so we took refuge there and the next day, I tried to walk into Gatlinburg,” he said. “I got about six miles down the road then a snow plow picked me up and took me the rest of the way in.”

While most people who hike the AT start out alone, they don’t remain by themselves for long. During his trek, Birt met a young couple from Alabama.

“I began hiking up with them, and we ended up summitting together, even though they started after I did.”

All hikers on the AT earn unique trail names – Birt’s was Buckeye, and his two companions were called Pickles and Blueberry.

He says the hike is somewhat easier when it’s shared with others.

“You look out for one another, even though you don’t necessarily hike together,” he says. “It’s like a trail family. At the end of the day, it’s not unusual for 10-15 hikers to stop at the same spot. Some sleeping in shelters, some sleeping in tents, but you’re all in the same area because you try to camp together where there’s water spots.”

Passing through the southern states hikers come across multiple towns where they can rest and refresh their supplies.

However, in the northern states, the towns appear less frequently.

“Once you get into new Hampshire and Maine, the towns become more sparse,” says Birt. “You have to travel a lot further before you can resupply.”

Especially trying is the “100-Mile Wilderness” section of the trail which runs through the state of Maine.

Birt and his companions could only carry enough to last through half the trek.

“We had to make arrangements for the remainder of the trail,” he says. “When we got half way, we had a hostel drop off food to re-supply us for the second half.”

A group known as the Trail Angels also look out for the hikers. Along the trail they leave supplies for hikers known as “Trail Magic”.

“Sometimes they’ll even set up a tent and cook hamburgers and hotdogs to feed the hikers,” says Birt.“ They’re really a great bunch of people.”

Birt says his most awe-inspiring moment along the trail came when he reached the White Mountains of New Hampshire, where he climbed the AT’s highest point at Mount Washington, elevation 6,000 feet plus.

“It was magnificent,” he says. “Once I got on the ridges above the tree line, I just sat and spent a couple hours enjoying the view.”

Birt says the best things he took away from his AT experience were a sense of accomplishment and the friendships he formed along the way.

“The last four or five days on the trail you’re anticipating that’s it’s coming to an end, and part of you wants to get it done because you’ve been away from home for five months,” he says. “On the other hand, I was sorry to say goodbye to the young couple I was hiking with. It was bittersweet, but I was glad to be going home.”
64-year old former police officer walks 2,000 miles in five months

Patricia Beech  [source]

Champion Media

Retired Baxter State Park signs to be auctioned off

Proceeds will benefit the park and Friends of Baxter State Park programs.

This vintage sign from Mount OJI is one of 10 signs included in the inaugural Friends of Baxter State Park sign auction. Photo by Aaron Megquier
This vintage sign from Mount OJI is one of 10 signs included in the inaugural Friends of Baxter State Park sign auction. Photo by Aaron Megquier

Friends of Baxter State Park is holding a sign auction through Dec. 6.

The nonprofit organization that helps support and preserve the wilderness of the 209,644-acre park, is auctioning off retired Baxter State Park trail signs as a fundraiser.

The auction includes 15 signs from favorite locations like Mount OJI, the Saddle Trail, Katahdin Lake, the Freezeout Trail, the Appalachian Trail, Kidney Pond and Mount Coe.

A special addition to the auction is the dinner bell from Kidney Pond Camps, a historic Maine sporting camp that is now one of Baxter State Park’s most popular campgrounds.

“These signs are one-of-a-kind keepsakes for anyone who enjoys hiking and camping in Baxter State Park” said Aaron Megquier, the executive director of the Friends group, in a news release. Many of the signs are well-worn, showing their exposure to harsh alpine conditions — or in some cases, the park’s resident wildlife.

The organization will donate half of the auction proceeds directly to Baxter State Park. The remaining proceeds will support Friends programs such as the Baxter Youth Conservation Corps, a new program that hires teens from the Katahdin region for summer trail work in the park.

Bidding closes at midnight Wednesday, Dec. 6. The auction is entirely online and may be accessed at 32auctions.com/fbsp.

source:  http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/01/retired-baxter-state-park-signs-to-be-auctioned-off/

Katahdin Woods And Waters National Monument

Katahdin Woods And Waters National Monument: A Pretty Magical Place

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument Information – excerpt from a great piece from nationalparkstraveler.com by Kurt Repanshek on November 30th, 2016

“Perhaps I most fully realized that this was primeval, untamed, and forever untamable Nature, or whatever else men call it, while coming down this part of the mountain.” — Henry David Thoreau.

Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine
The country’s newest national monument, Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine, offers a rich variety of winter activities, such as hiking or skiing along the Katahdin Loop Road/Ray Pasnen

Thoreau’s impression of the Maine North Woods, penned during one of his three trips to the region in the 1840s and 1850s, more than likely would have been different had he visited in winter today.

Though the woods still appear primeval in some spots, the hand of man is evident since Thoreau’s days. This winter, the first visitors will explore Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument by snowshoe, snowmobile, and skis. They’ll find an inviting landscape of thousands of acres of backcountry.

Lucas St. Clair, whose family donated 87,500 acres through its Elliotsville Plantation, Inc., nonprofit to the federal government in late August to create the monument, recalls: “Some of the more memorable experiences for me over the years have been going in the winter to really remote sections of the monument on skis. You just see so much stuff that you typically don’t see. Moose at really short range. You can see all the tracks so much more clearly.

“It’s really cool to be skiing along and see all these lynx tracks and drops of blood in the snow where a lynx had eaten a rabbit. You don’t see that stuff in any other season,” he adds.

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine offers miles of winter trails to explore
With nearly 90,000 acres, the new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine offers miles of winter trails to explore/Ray Pasnen

Elliotsville Plantation, has cut roughly 20 kilometers of crosscountry ski trails near the northern tip of the monument, and 32 miles of snowmobile trails over the years. Those trails, with their connections to Baxter State Park and other snowmobile routes, offer nearly 100 miles of trail to explore.

read more…

Winter visitors can choose from a number of other lodging options:

  • Mount Chase Lodge is just 16 miles from the monument, on Shin Pond, operated by the same family for past 40 years. They have private cabins, main lodge rooms, with fare such as pan-seared salmon with blueberry chutney and grilled marinated Portobello mushrooms.
  •   The New England Outdoor Center cabins can accommodate from six to 14 guests, and are just 8 miles from Millinocket. St. Clair says, “They have snowmobile rentals, ski rentals, and there’s skiing trails right there at the lodge, and you can easily access the monument for snowmobiling from the lodge.”
  •   The Matagamon Wilderness Lodge’s cabins can handle up to a dozen, and it’s right at the entrance of the monument’s cross-country ski trails.

“From a national park perspective, people think of Acadia National Park and the summer on the coast,” says St. Clair. “But the winter inland is really a pretty magical place.”