The Bates Outing Club sent out a number of trips up Mount Katahdin’s peaks this past weekend during their annual Assault on Katahdin. The number of trips offered were expanded this year in an effort to include as many interested Bates students as possible in addition to a streamlined sign-up system.
The trips were executed without a hitch, despite a recent controversy between Baxter State Park and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
In July 2015, ultramarathoner Scott Jurek summited Mount Katahdin to complete the Appalachian Trail in a record-breaking 46 days, eight hours and seven minutes. He celebrated with a bottle of champagne—much to the chagrin of Baxter State Park Director Jensen Bissell. According to a August 2015 New York Times article, “As Hikers Celebrate on the Appalachian Trail, Some Ask: Where Will It End?” Bissell has been at odds with the Conservancy over the number of people on the trails in recent years. While Bissell and Baxter want to reduce the size of crowds on the trail, the Conservancy wants more people out hiking. Jurek’s champagne celebration was the last straw, as Bissell is threatening to move the end of the trail off of Katahdin.
The BOC has a longstanding tradition with Katahdin and the AT, whether during their annual weekend trip or through maintenance of a portion of the trail.
“We deeply value our access to the park, and are extremely grateful to the rangers and administrators who make the trip possible,” Outing Club President Sasha Lennon said.
BOC followed the strictly enforced rules of the park, maintaining a mile between hiking groups at all times, limiting groups to ten or fewer and leaving no trace on the trail.
“We are highly respectful of the park year after year,” Lennon said. “We absolutely sympathize with the concerns of the park directors as well as the rangers and do not partake in or endorse the party culture created by some of the through hikers, although we sympathize with their impulse to celebrate after spending three plus months hiking the eastern seaboard of the US.”
Despite the outdoor political controversy, Bates hikers were pleased with the hike.
“It was a rush summiting, taking in the views, and being struck by how beautiful Katahdin is,” Forrest Naylor ’16 said. “The cherry on top was coming to the realization that you had actually climbed it.”
Two rounds of trips made their way up the trail, with some groups camping out Friday and hiking Saturday and others camping Saturday and climbing Sunday. Conditions varied, with winds up to 50 mph on some parts of the mountains as well as some ice and snow. Sunny skies Sunday allowed hikers to take in the magnificent view from the top.
Moving forward, the BOC will continue to do their part to uphold the sanctity of the mountain while encouraging all Bates students to revel in the magnificence of Maine’s highest peak.