Cross One Off the Bucket List: The Knife Edge
I have never compiled a bucket list — a list of the things I want to do before I kick the bucket. But this Saturday I realized perhaps I have had an unofficial one in my mind. I accomplished something I had been promising myself I would do "someday" for the past twenty-five years: I walked the Knife Edge on Katahdin.
This was my second time climbing Katahdin. Last year I joined a group of friends in climbing to Baxter Peak via the Abol Trail, a steep, boulder- and scree-strewn rock slide. This year we chose to climb via the Taylor Helon Trail, across the infamous Knife Edge, and down the Saddle Trail.
Though not as steep as Abol Trail, the Knife Edge is extremely rugged, but not the way I had expected. I was not intimated by the narrow path (less than three feet wide in some places with a 2000-foot drop to either side), or by the rock towers that one must climb up and down at the trail's start, but rather by the 1.1 mile-plus path of sharp rubble and bouders to Baxter Peak. It required intense concentration and it was relentlessly tedious. I began to hate those jagged rocks. I wished Pamola, the Abanaki bird spirit, would toss those rocks into the valleys below. No, even worse, I wished those rocks would be paved over or rendered inconsequential by a cable car strung between Pamola and Baxter peaks.
It took nearly two hours to walk that mile, and Baxter Peak, when we reached it, looked mighty fine. At last we were able to pause, raise our heads, and take in the incredible views — forest, mountains, and lakes in every direction as far as the eye could see.
I'll climb Katahdin again, maybe even next year. But the Knife Edge? I've crossed that off the bucket list.
- Virginia M. Wright, senior writer, Down East Magazine and Books