MILLINOCKET — Baxter State Park is boasting a fairly busy season, but it’s been a bit different than last year.
“Not quite as slammed as it was last year when everyone recognized that being outside was a good, safe activity to go ahead and do, but we’ve still been,” said Eben Sypitkowski, director of Baxter State Park. “Camping, in particular, has been about 10 percent ahead of the five-year average.”
Sypitkowski said the number of rescues was below average at the beginning of the season.
“We’ve caught up, unfortunately,” Sypitkowski said. “Over the course of the year, we’ve had a number of rescues and we’re about a normal year in terms of the number of rescues we’ve had to respond to.”
The trails on Mount Katahdin can be challenging, and some folks have advice for first-time hikers.
“Make sure that they’re aware that there’s animals out there, like there’s a lot of bears that we saw with some cubs. Don’t go in their direction. They get very protective and just kind of turn around and go the other way,” said Marybeth Morris of Florida.
“Bring enough water. Bring enough supplies. You never know if you’re gonna get stuck,” said Matt Bentz, a Virginia resident. “Bring enough to keep you healthy enough to get through at least a night and some way to signal your way out is always good. Your cell phone’s not gonna work here.”
Sypitkowski said it’s important for all visitors to follow park rules and regulations, including carrying a flashlight at all times.
“A lot of folks come down in the dark. Don’t intend to when they start their hike, but they certainly do,” Sypitkowski said. The most important piece is to remember that the objective of your hike is not the summit of the mountain. You still have to get back down.”