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“The first thirteen miles just about killed me”

What it’s like to climb Maine’s most formidable mountain—in winter

MAINE, Maine — After a few grueling miles of pulling a sled loaded with television equipment and winter camping supplies, Kirk Cratty realized he’d miscalculated. The sled, he was informed too late to lighten the load, should weigh no more than a third of his body weight. In Kirk’s case he was cross country skiing across the frozen landscape of Baxter State Park, heading toward the base of a mountain—and hauling a sled that weighed about half as much as he did.

“I’ve run marathons, I’ve run 5Ks, plenty of half marathons,” Kirk told me. “I’ve always finished in the top twenty percent of my age group. I thought I had this [trip] in the bag.” He paused for a moment, reliving the memory. “The first thirteen miles of cross country skiing just about killed me.”

The adventure was just beginning. Kirk, who’s worked for years as a videographer at NEWS CENTER Maine, had been invited to join a crew of hikers who set out in mid-February with the goal of climbing Katahdin, Maine’s tallest and most imposing mountain. It’s an ascent he’s made about a dozen times--but never in winter.

Now, at this point, I could tell you more about the expedition, filling in details about the cold, the climb, the camaraderie. But here’s a far better idea: Watch Kirk’s video story. It’s terrific. Then watch the interview we did with him. Perhaps you’ve stood on the summit of Katahdin, but these two stories will take you, vividly and memorably, to a place you’ve never seen in quite this way.

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