Mount Katahdin is the highest mountain in Maine, peaking at 5,269 feet above sea level, and also serves as the Northeastern end of the Appalachian Trail.Mount Katahdin is the highest mountain in Maine, peaking at 5,269 feet above sea level, and also serves as the Northeastern end of the Appalachian Trail.

The group of eight students camped out overnight in below-freezing temperatures, spotted a giant moose, pushed their physical limits while hiking, and enjoyed the fellowship of adventure, all among some of the most amazing sights a New England autumn can offer.

Andrea Fontana ’19, a trip leader and member of COA’s Outing Club, gave the following account:

The wind blasted us from the south with nothing obstructing it. We huddled on the north side of a large cairn, re-donned our many layers, and shared chocolate and granola bars as we marveled at nature’s expanse and beauty. We were atop Mt. Katahdin, a mile high in the sky, and we truly felt on top of the world.

The sunrise as visible from Baxter State Park — where Mount Katahdin is located.The sunrise as visible from Baxter State Park — where Mount Katahdin is located.We were a noticeably international group for only being eight students. Most of us had only hiked smaller mountains, but had been intrigued by a 24-hour trip to hike Maine’s highest peak.

We loaded up into a school van, along with our backpacks, water, tents, and granola, and departed campus at 4:15 p.m. on a Friday. Night descended as we drove the three-or-so hours to Baxter State Park, laughing and talking the whole ride there. We stopped just inside the park to appreciate the low, golden moon hanging over a still lake, before heading deeper into the park to our campsite.

It was just 8 p.m. when we burrowed into our sleeping bags to fight the encroaching chill — the temperature was predicted to drop below freezing for the night. We awoke, groggy-eyed, at 2 a.m. to find frost on the blue spruce trees around us. We quickly broke down our camp and loaded back into the van for the remaining hour drive between us and the base of the mountain.

College of the Atlantic's <a href="/our-community/student-activities/outdoor-programs/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Outing Club</a> schedules outdoor adventuring trips for the COA student body year-round. Trips they organize often include hiking, kayaking and canoeing, overnight camping, and bouldering.College of the Atlantic's Outing Club schedules outdoor adventuring trips for the COA student body year-round. Trips they organize often include hiking, kayaking and canoeing, overnight camping, and bouldering.

A large, ominous shape crept into view of our headlights as we traveled down the bumpy, pitch-black, dirt road. A massive bull moose was in the middle of the track, sporting a rack of antlers so wide he couldn’t enter the tightly packed birch and pine forests on either side. We trailed behind him from a distance as he wandered forward, hoping that an opening might appear in the trees so we could continue our charge toward the start of our hike. We could only watch in awe as it rambled slowly down the road in front of us, eventually happening upon a path and leaving the road.

College of the Atlantic is often lauded as a <a href="/live/news/1301-8-colleges-for-students-whod-rather-be-outside" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">top-choice school</a> for outdoor adventure enthusiasts.College of the Atlantic is often lauded as a top-choice school for outdoor adventure enthusiasts.We began our hike up Saddle Trail at 4 a.m. The moon was just about full, but the trees flanking the trail held hands above our heads and kept much of the available moonlight for themselves. Luckily enough, we had each remembered our headlamps, and so we stepped over boulders and hopped dry creek beds in the manufactured light.

We each wore several layers of clothing to buffer the cold. Hiking is taxing business, however, and we invariably shed layer by layer as the incline rose and our calves began to protest. Dawn approached and we climbed higher and higher. The forest thinned and the trees grew shorter as we walked.

Our view of the landscape around us slowly expanded, the backdrop of the sky and horizon becoming grander with every step forward. First, a moonlit meadow shouldered by mountains cloaked in glowing clouds; later a forested valley delicately cast in the citrus tones of the sunrise; finally, as we reached the top, a 360-degree panorama of forested peaks and valleys of varying height, depth, and width.

I’ve never been able to see so far in every direction.

A group of College of the Atlantic students, led by Andrea Fontana '19 (top row, left), pose at the peak of Mount Katahdin.A group of College of the Atlantic students, led by Andrea Fontana '19 (top row, left), pose at the peak of Mount Katahdin.


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