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Mt Katahdin
One of my favourite places in the world to run or hike is Mt Katahdin in Baxter State Park in Maine, USA.  My then wife, Barb, and I first visited the Park in 1985 when we were touring the US for a year.  It's worthy of a visit in its own right, but my interest had been piqued by a former work colleague's wife, a native of Boston, who had told me about the 3,500km Appalachian Trail which had its northern terminus on Mt Katahdin.

The place had an early impact on me.  While running from our campsite on the first morning, I encountered a moose.  Every visitor to Maine hopes for a moose sighting, but my first was completely unexpected and very exciting.  I was just cruising along a deserted park road through a conifer forest at the base of Katahdin when, in the misty early morning light, I saw what looked like a very tall man walking along the road towards me.  As I continued on, the shadowy figure got taller until I finally worked out that it was a moose strolling obliviously in my direction.  They're not generally dangerous, unless you hit them while driving (22 people killed in Maine in the last decade), but they are intimidatingly large, often reaching a height of more than 2.5 metres.  Finally, the moose woke up to my approaching presence and crashed off into the forest.

Reaching the top of Katahdin after 3,500km and
4 months of hiking in August 1986
Later that day we climbed the spectacular Mt Katahdin (1606m), a 17km strenuous round trip along the Hunt Trail.  It involved some taxing and scary boulder scrambling, and a very exposed plateau-like top, but the views from the peak of the isolated mountain were spectacular and rewarding.

Fifteen months later, I was back there again, completing my northbound Appalachian Trail hike (and spotting a few more moose on the way), but this time the views were limited and the weather deteriorating.  After four months of hiking it was, nevertheless, a profound moment in a spiritual place.

Looking down Hunt Trail on Mt Katahdin
Another thirteen years passed before I saw the top of Katahdin again, this time during a family camping trip to Maine while we were living in Connecticut and I was working in New York.  I managed to squeeze in a return run from our campsite to the peak before the day's activities, and enjoyed having the whole mountain to myself in the morning light.  Despite the steepness and difficulty of some sections, the return trip only took about 2.5 hours.  It brought back many memories, as I'm sure it will when I set out southwards from there this coming October (fingers crossed!).

I managed to comfortably walk 10km for exercise this morning, including some significant hills.  I felt good all the way and spent the last half rationalising a return to gentle jogging next week assuming my INR blood test shows my anti-coagulant levels are in range.