Back in 2016, I wrote about the Maine woods, growing up learning and knowing how to stay safe inside them, and about Donn Fendler, who, at 12 years old, got lost on Mount Katahdin and survived walking about 35 miles over the course of nine days. This past weekend, on July 25th, I hiked the same trail Donn Fendler and his hiking party hiked 81 years and one week before—and revisited Lost on a Mountain in Maine.
Mount Katahdin is Maine’s highest mountain (5,269 feet or about 1,606 meters), and is located inside of Baxter State Park (Katahdin holds special significance to the Penobscot Nation, which you can learn about here. I am unfortunately unable to find when the land was taken previous to Great Northern Paper Company’s ownership in the early 1900s.) There are a number of trails that lead hikers to Katahdin’s peaks – all strenuous, steep, and requiring 8-12 hours to complete.
I was not in shape enough to finish the final [approximately] two miles of the Hunt Trail, but was dazzled and caught speechless by the view from the plateau a half a mile below the “Gateway.” It was here that I found some shade, made myself comfortable among the boulders, and read Donn Fendler’s story again.
Past the “Gateway” (the top of the pointy rocky ‘hill’ seen in the photos above) and Thoreau Spring (yes, that Thoreau) is Baxter Peak – the peak on which Donn Fendler left his friend Henry to go back down the trail in search of his father. It was there that the already cold and thick rainy mist became thicker, and caused the young boy to lose his way.
In addition to the beautiful day (the wind lessened the intensity of the high summer temperatures) and good company, I relished in revisiting this infamous story in its initial setting. Experiencing the rugged and dangerous elements of the mountain myself put me in even more awe of Donn Fendler’s story of survival, and in nature herself. As I said above, the view from this plateau left me quite speechless, so I’ll let these photos speak for themselves.