hanks in part to the phenomenon of "six degrees of separation" (though, let's face it, in New York City it's more like four degrees), it's likely that everyone knows at least one person intrepid enough to try—and potentially complete—the magnificent Appalachian Trail. To finish the trail requires a nearly Herculean effort—and it sure takes a lot more stamina than we New Yorkers typically maintain as we run to catch the G train.
The good news is that there's a lot of ways to experience the Appalachian Trail in bits and pieces—especially for those of us who don't have a spare six months to go wandering into the wilderness. We and our friends at Poland Spring know that if you want to get out of town for a bit, a great place to begin sits at the trail's northern terminus in Baxter State Park, where Maine's largest mountain looms triumphantly in the skyline. Mount Katahdin—or just "Katahdin" to the locals—was first named by the Penobscot Indians, meaning "Greatest Mountain." At it's peak, Katahdin is a whopping 5,267 feet tall, and while it's commonly thought that Maine's majestic monolith is the first landmark graced by the morning sun—sorry folks, that isn't always true. (Apparently sunrise politics is a hot topic in Maine.)
While you might imagine that hikers—after months of willingly frolicking through the mountains and battling the elements during their 2,200-mile journey—might regard their final ascent up Katahdin with a bit of wariness, think again. Hikers have been known to abandon their packs and run—yes, run—up the enormous mountain to complete their journey. Some have even popped champagne on Katahdin's peak, but please don't. The parks department is rightfully cracking down on these boozy celebrations, especially because discarded glass bottles are not healthy for Mother Nature.
Mount Katahdin (istockphoto)
It goes without saying that during your Katahdin ascent, you might not be alone. Beyond other hikers, you may meet the gaze of furry friends who call the mountain home. Local fauna include black bears, deer, and moose as well as black flies and mosquitos in the spring. (So bring bug spray!) If you're lucky enough, you may even catch a glimpse of the rare Katahdin arctic butterfly—a currently endangered creature endemic to the area. For all the aspiring naturalists out there, a trusty pair of binoculars is a worthwhile investment.
And if you're really looking for a unique mountain experience, legend has it that there's a rock up there on Katahdin inscribed with words of the poet Robert Service, encouraging the adventures of all the world's travelers. The stanza from "Rhymes of a Rolling Stone" reads:
Here's a hail to each flaming dawn
Here's a cheer to the night that's gone
May I go a-roamin' on
Until the day I die.
If you stumble across the poem, we admit it—it's definitely Instagram gold. But for all the believers and adventure-seekers out there, we kindly request that you keep the exact location a secret and uphold the mystery for generations of hikers to come.
Mount Katahdin (istockphoto)
Excited to get out of town and take a hike? Make sure you pack enough water for your trek—H2O is much more replenishing than champagne! And while you're at it, why not hydrate like a local too?
Poland Spring® Brand 100% Natural Spring Water celebrates all of its home state's natural beauties and delivers the fresh taste that all those in the Northeast have cherished since 1845. To learn more about their commitment to sustainably sourced water and their Maine heritage, visit the Poland Spring website today.
This post is a sponsored collaboration between Poland Spring and Gothamist staff.