Two recent rescues prompted the Press Herald to write an excellent editorial (“Our View: Give Mount Katahdin the respect it requires,” June 26).

As someone who has hiked more than half of Katahdin’s 81 routes, I say “Amen” to respect.

In 1978 Stephen Clark first published the definitive Katahdin guidebook. Many Maine hikers have at least one edition or reprint of “Katahdin” in their collection, and there is still no cartographical peer to “the Clark Map.”

“Katahdin” covers every footfall, not merely on its namesake, but the entirety of Baxter State Park. Despite its extra weight, I have toted the history-rich book on most of my Baxter-Katahdin jaunts. His bushwhacking days behind him, Steve has helped plan my more ambitious Baxter hikes, and he always enjoys my report back.

Steve devoted his life work to Katahdin, as well as to Maine’s 267 miles of Appalachian Trail leading to it. The Clark name commands the same respect afforded names like Avery, Taylor, Dudley, Caverly and even Baxter. Accordingly, I respectfully nudge the Press Herald Editorial Board.

In his foreword to “Katahdin,” Steve is slightly snarky, but entirely sincere:

“Notice to users of this guide – we invite you to join the committee to stamp out the Mount on Katahdin.

“Katahdin is a magical name. It should stand by itself in language as it does in nature. We honor the mountain by adopting the original Abenaki name for it. The translation of their name, Katahdin, is ‘greatest mountain.’ Therefore, if we interpose ‘Mount’ or ‘Mt.’ as part of the name, it then becomes ‘Mount Greatest Mountain.’

“… There is no membership fee, member list, or structure. To become a member, seize every opportunity to bring this issue to editors, newspaper writers, or to anyone who prefaces Katahdin with a ‘Mount’ or ‘Mt.’ It may take a few years so let’s begin!”

Christopher P. O’Neil


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