Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Hiking the Fabled Knife Edge Trail

Fellow Knife Edge Hiking Colleagues and Outdoor Adventurers:

A film festival will soon be held, including a category for short documentary films. Given I am enthralled with our Knife Edge accomplishments, I have decided to submit a documentary about our Trail experience.

The below 30-minute video has many pictures and videos you have never seen. When I did my original video, it was seven minutes and did not include any return hike after we reached Baxter Peak and only a few videos and pictures of us getting to the Knife Edge Trail.

I suggest you sit your friends and family down, make some popcorn, gather your favorite drink, and watch this Knife Edge documentary.  

Be prepared to close your eyes if you are severely afraid of heights.

Here is the 50-second Trailer I developed to promote the half-hour "Hiking the Fabled Knife Edge Trail."

Here is the half-hour film submitted to the Film Festival:  

------------------------------Intro Narrative----------------------------

I present the Fabled Knife Edge Trail of Mount Katahdin, Maine. A 15-hour and 11-mile hike, followed by the trail mapping plan. Five friends and I will take you with us, share the Knife Edge experience, and discuss the planning.

We planned a long day of hiking, only to find a day and evening of climbing. The plan seemed relatively straightforward:
  1. Hike to Baxter Peak, the northern terminus of the 2,162-mile Appalachian Trail (AT).
  2. Cross the fabled 1.1-mile Knife Edge Trail.
  3. Hike five miles on the AT starting at its northern beginning at Baxter Peak.
A footpath by the loosest of definitions, the ridge-jagged Knife Edge can be as narrow as the width of your laptop computer screen with thousand-foot drop-offs on both sides of the ridge. The 1.1-mile Knife Edge Trail in Baxter State Park, Maine, is often described as the most dangerous trail in New England. The crossing was a two-hour scramble, balancing act, crawling, scooting on our butts, while on a peaked rock-strewn ridge stretching from Pamola Peak across Chimney Peak (4902 feet) and South Peak to Baxter Peak (5267 feet) on Mt Katahdin. Baxter Peak is the northern start of the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail.

You cannot drive or paddle to reach the Knife Edge Trail. First, it takes a 7-hour uphill hike from Roaring Brook campground to Chimney Peak to get to the beginning of the notorious and legendary Knife Edge Trail. Next, after a two-hour hike described above, you finally arrive at the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Mt Katahdin's Baxter Peak. And remember, what goes up a mountain, must come down. After reaching your Baxter Peak goal via the Knife Edge Trail, you now must hike down five miles on Mt Katahdin's Appalachian Trail in more treacherous ridge terrain for six hours to return to the Katahdin Stream Campground.
More Detail Videos of Knife Edge, Google Earth Map Route, and Overview of Our Katahdin Trek

Sit back and enjoy - and cringe - as we cross the fabled Knife Edge Trail. Now showing on Bedford Community Television (BCTV) - produced by OutdoorSteve.com
Click here for a narrated Map of our Katahdin Trail Route using Google Earth.
Click here for A Little Stroll Along Katahdin with Dundee and LoonsNest.biz

Below is the time and miles breakdown by trail

Total Trip Hrs:Min



Roaring Brook Campground to
Chimney Pond Campground
Start 6:45 am

9:30 am
2 ¾ hrs

3.3 miles
Chimney Pond Trail easy hike.  4 of us used Tracking Poles.  Some nice side trail views.
Chimney Pond Campground to Pamola Peak via Dudley Trail
10 am
1 pm
3 hrs

1.4 miles
After a snack and rest at Chimney Pond Campground, we tied our tracking poles to our packs.  The Dudley Trail is a 2,000 elevation gain and a relentless massive granite boulder laden trail nearly straight up requiring our hands for pulling, grabbing rocks and hand holds, our legs for pushing, our arms for lifting our bodies, our feet for pushing and toe holds, and our butts to sliding up and holding our bodies at times.
All of us were exhausted.  Indeed it was a very trying physical test of our mettle.
Pamola Peak to Chimney Peak/Knife Edge
1:20 pm
2:12 pm
¾ hr
Our descent down the 40 foot drop from Pamola Peak was technical “rock climbing” .  We held indentations in the rocks while reaching for footholds.  Indeed for this descent we used using hands, arms, body and butt.
Knife Edge to South Peak
3:00 pm
1 hr

.8 miles
A 1.1 mile balancing act along the ridge of the Knife Edge Trail. Prior to this trip I had visions of panicking because of the elevation and 1000 foot drop offs and extremely narrow trail.  Truthfully, I had no fear as I crossed this very unique trail.
South Peak to Baxter Peak
3:50 pm
1 hr

.3 miles
This ridge trail went up and down.  Just when we got to the top of the trail, it would drop and we would start another descent.  Then an ascent followed by another descent.  We were close to 7 hours since we left Roaring Brook campground and were tired.  At each high ledge we could see Baxter Peak, but could not differentiate the rolling ridge.
Baxter Peak  via Hunt Trail through Table Land
4:00 pm
5:15 pm
1 ¼ hr

1.0 miles
Tableland was like a country hike.  It was flat and a welcome hike.  We passed the famous Henry David Thorough Spring. We had been hiking for near ten hours. 
Hunt Trail after TableLand to Katahdin Stream Campground
5:15 pm
10:00 pm
4.5 hrs

4.2 miles
We were now headed down and home, BUT still had 4.2 miles according to the trail sign. The first two miles were a steep down and over rough granite.  We did have some technical areas.  One section had steel handles in the granite to make the descent from huge ledges a bit easier.
Took us two hours just to get below the tree line.
At 8:30 pm we put on our headlamps.  We used our trekking poles to give us stability through the downward rock strewn path.

At 10 pm we reached the ranger check-in station where we signed-on the register that six of us were back. We also met the Park Ranger who had been told by two people who passed us earlier in the dark with headlamps and that we were fine and on our way
6:45 am
10:00 pm
11 miles

 15 hrs!

What a Journey!!!

Knife Edge Trail
We were into our hike for about 6 ½ hrs. of rock strewn, rugged and prolonged steepness on the Dudley trail reaching Pamola Peak, followed by a technical Pamola descent.  We ascended Chimney Peak, and the start of the almost mile high Knife Edge Trail. Whew!

The Knife Edge Trail is perhaps the most spectacular trail in New England – and also the most dangerous. It would take us two hours to cross from Chimney Peak to Baxter Peak.

We were advised to avoid the Knife Edge in stormy weather. The exposure to high winds and lightning is extreme. We were warned once we decide to cross the Knife Edge we MUST CONTINUE ON THE TRAIL. There is no safe way to descend off either side of the mountain ridge. Our weather conditions were perfect!

The mile long Knife Edge path stretches across the South Basin’s headwall between Pamola and Baxter Peak. You get a sense of what these six outdoor enthusiasts experienced crossing this unique narrow mile-high ridge with 1,000-foot plus drops on both sides. At a few points the width of the ridge was close to 10-inches. The views, when we dared a birds-eyed glimpse, are magnificent and certainly breathtaking.
Are You Ready for Katahdin?

A very special thanks goes to Linwood and Betty of Loons Nest (http://www.loonsnest.biz/) for their immense help in preparing this trip.

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