We’re at a cabin on Daicey Pond in Baxter State Park with the perfect view of Katahdin, the highest point in Maine at 5270 feet. Katahdin was named by the Penobscot Nation and it translates to “The Greatest Mountain.” It towers over its neighbors, and on a clear day you can even see it from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia (some 100+ miles to the east).
We’ve found good hiking, good paddling, and good opportunities to relax in the cool mountain weather (lows in the upper 30s last night). We’ve also taken the time to cook up some of our favorite dishes. Over the past three days, we’ve had baked brie, french fries, nachos, antipasto, fresh baked bread, chocolate chip cookies, caprese, and sweet rolls, along with a nice deep dish pizza.
The park is very remote and rugged, and it comes with an interesting history. It was a gift to the people of Maine from former Governor Percival Baxter, who donated the original 200,000+ acres over about a 30 year period ending in 1962. As “co-owners,” Maine residents don’t have to pay the $14 admission to access the park. Once inside, there is no electricity and no running water, and there are no paved roads–only a single 13 foot wide gravel road, the Tote Road, for the majority of access. The park’s motto is “Forever Wild,” and it certainly is.
While Baxter is far from population centers, it’s still surprising to me that it only saw 63,000 visitors last year. In contrast, Great Falls Park in Virginia is 250 times smaller and draws 10 times the visitors. Crowds are relative, I suppose.
The cabins at Daicey Pond date back to 1902, and its easy to feel lost in time here. Our cabin has just a wall-mounted propane light, two twin beds, a table, a wood stove, and a few wooden chairs. Down at the dock, there is an honor system for canoe and kayak rentals ($1 an hour), and there is an always-open library full of interesting books. Add in friendly rangers, a nice network of hiking trails, loons, deer, and moose, and you’ve got something worth trying to keep the same.
Perhaps best of all, the mountain is visible from most anywhere, seemingly watching over the handful of visitors that make it up here. Percival Baxter had this to say about Katahdin: “buildings crumble, monuments decay, wealth vanishes, but Katahdin, in all its glory, shall forever remain the mountain of the people of Maine.”
Oh, and one other thing about Katahdin: it’s officially named Mount Katahdin, but that literally translates to “Mount Greatest Mountain.” Naturally, everyone just calls it Katahdin, as Mainers are way too smart to be redundant—unlike, say, whoever named “Panera Bread.” Along those lines, maybe I should open up a “Vino Wine” concession at the summit of the highest point of Mount Katahdin?