With all the attention on overindulgent self-congratulatory behavior atop Mt. Katahdin in Maine’s Baxter State Park, the Appalachian Trail’s northern terminus, there has been an eerie buzz about moving the terminus entirely. Thru-hikers are overwhelming BSP resources, park authorities say, and some are failing to abide by park regulations. Tensions between BSP and NOBO thru-hikers have been festering for years, of course, but they were brought to the attention of all when ultramarathoner Scott Jurek, upon setting the supported speed record on the AT this summer, launched a most-impressive Baccinalian spray of bubbly atop Maine’s most revered peak–we think possibly atop some of Gov. Baxter’s actual ashes. Nicely done, sir.
Many are afraid that due to all the bad behavior, BSP is going to have to give the AT a time out. Distancehiking says “namaste,” AT community, if BSP kicks us out, we’ve got plenty of places we can start/end this trail!
Some are displeased. This includes one persuasive young man named Ryan, who was quoted in a recent New York Times piece (linked above) speculating that if the terminus was to move off Katahdin, the AT would loose its “epicness.” [sic]
Look at the two PCT termini: One is in a shitty patch of desert along a metal fence in not-Mexico and the other is in the middle of an unsightly clear cut. That, plus the PCTA makes sure that it is always raining and 37 degrees for every NOBO who reaches the northern terminus. But that doesn’t make the trail any more or less “epic” to those who have made the entire journey.
I hiked the AT SOBO in 2002. Do you think I felt any sense of lost “epicness” when I finished just because there wasn’t some famous wooden sign to straddle? No fuckin’ way! I dragged my ass all the way to Georgia from Maine. It was epic!
If the AT gets relocated and hikers still want to summit Katahdin, it’s a free country (outside of BSP). The PCT passes miles from the summit of Mt. Whitney and thru-hikers who want to go have a look just make a side trip. No big.
With this in mind, we at Distancehiking.com have come up with the five best places in Maine to reroute the AT terminus:
Aroostook County. We natives just call it The County. With all the agriculture and snow up there it actually looks a little more like Montana than most of Maine. It’s a fine place to visit and they could use the tourism income. You can get naked, smoke weed, pump your fists, and shoot Champagne all day and no-one will bother you. We’ve got no particular place in The County in mind, just get over The County line and that’s probably sufficient.
Reny’s. If you’re here to see Maine, then you shouldn’t be permitted to leave the state without
stealing buying a tchotchke like a stuffed moose wearing a Christmas sweater and furry winter boots at Reny’s. Plus it’s a good place to reoutfit yourself post-trail and nobody in there will care how you smell. It’s a Maine adventure, just like the AT. Sing it, Kameron
Frosty’s Donuts, Brunswick. God these donuts are good and people who drive down Maine street Brunswick are soooo pedestrian friendly. That’s because they are pre-cogs. Four lanes of traffic will stop on a dime before you’ve even decided you want to cross the street to go get you some Frosty’s. Spend the money and order the twists. Trust us.
Anywhere King Memphis is playing. THESE GUYS can rip! This classy rockabilly band will come play at your wedding, art show, or gazebo event, remain sober, and let toddlers dance all they want. And (just a guess here) they would really like having the AT start/end at their gigs. There would be a few complications with moving the trail each year, but we think the ALDHA Companion could keep up.
Bradbury Mountain State Park. The “other” BSP. What a towering colossus! At 469ft Bradbury “Mountain” is mocked by the Maine Geological Survey as a “small, inconspicuous hill.” There can be no less unexceptional place to end/start an AT thru hike. But think of it this way, your grandparents could probably make it to the summit to join you! Then head to the historic Freeport McDonald’s (nice building, but same bilious factory farm food, people) to make up the 15 calories you might have burned while climbing this beast.
The moral of this post. It doesn’t matter where the trail starts or ends, as evidenced by so many nondescript trail termini in the USA. That you hiked the trail and had all the fun and adventure you and your budget could handle and marveled at the wonders of nature first hand–that’s the key.