Me and a buddy backpacked up Mt Katahdin in July of 1984. I was 21.
We drove from North Jersey to Baxter State Park in my 1 month old Honda Civic CRX (loved that car) in a straight shot, and crashed in a lean-to for the night. The next morning at approximately 8:30am we shouldered our 60+lb packs, and started up the Hunt Trail; 5.2mi, 4188ft elevation gain. The skies were overcast, with light sprinkles throughout the day. I was in decent shape at the time; running 40-50 miles a week, and probably the lightest I've been in my adult(ish) life at 125lbs, but with a 60+lb pack, it was a slog.
The hike was grueling, and the official state bird of Maine (the black fly) was well represented. We broke several times, and might even have camped half-way if the forest had not been so dense, and the slope of the trail not so steep. Instead we plodded on towards our summit objective. We arrived at what I think is called the Tableland Traverse sometime between 5 and 6pm, and set up camp; planning on hiking the Knife Edge Trail to the summit in the morning.
Part of the reason for the excessive weight of our packs, was my buddy's and mine insistence on each bringing our own tents. My buddy had a Eureka Timberline, and I a Eureka Alpine Meadows; sturdy and reliable backpacking tents, if not the lightest. As we sought to find purchase for our tent stakes in the scrub grass and rock, we felt the weather changing as high pressure pushed in, clearing the cloud cover, and making way for what stands out as the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen in the Northeast. Once camp was set, we began preparing the evening feast; for me, it was spinach fettuccini with white clam sauce. My buddy probably had something equally elaborate, since we both packed enough for a small family, and saw no reason to combine resources. At this elevation, probably 1000 feet above tree-line, we would have no campfire, and relied on our stoves (both had brought our own) for cooking, and our sleeping bags for warmth. The temperature had dropped with the arriving high pressure, and we turned in shortly after dark, which probably would have been after 9pm at that time of year, as the wind started picking up.
I remember not being able to sleep very well as the wind buffeted my tent. I was exhausted, but the wind was relentless, and created a cacophony of nylon flapping which made sleeping all but impossible. After a while I gave up trying, and just hoped for an early dawn. It was probably only minutes after reaching that acceptance that my buddy came to the door of my tent, half naked, with his tent, and whatever else he could tackle before it blew off the mountain bundled in his arms. "Holy shit dude, the wind blew my f'ing tent down, and almost took it off the mountain before I tackled it! Can I sleep in your tent?" "Sure" I said, thinking having both of us in my tent might keep it from suffering the same fate as his. He unraveled his bundle, took a quick inventory, and settled in. The settling didn't last very long.
Within a half hour, one of the side support poles of my tent was bent to the point of breaking, and while Jeff tried to support it with his body, it became clear that we and our equipment weren't going to fare well if we continued on this course. It was at this time that Jeff and I decided to break camp, before it was broken for us. We gathered our gear under the moonlight, with some assistance from a waterproof Tekna Light, and a disposable flashlight that one of us had brought along "just in case". By midnight, we were ready to begin our descent, at least to tree-line, where we planned to spend the remainder of the night.
If any of you have ever hiked Katahdin, or the Hunt Trail, you might be familiar with the boulder field above tree-line. Suffice to say, this really isn't a place that you want to be fumbling through by penlight. There were probably better lighting kits available at the time, but this was still decades before high-intensity LEDs, conveniently strapped to your head. I made do by clamping the end of the Tekna light in my teeth, especially for backwards stepping down steep boulder faces, and tried to preserve my batteries for as long as possible. The disposable flashlight was dead within an hour, and we still had a way to go to reach tree-line. Jeff and I took turns spotting each other with the Tekna light, and eventually we reached the shelter of the trees.
We soon realized that it was going to be next to impossible to find a flat spot to lay down, let alone set up a tent. It had probably taken us 4+ hours to reach our current spot, and as we contemplated our situation, we noticed some lightening in the sky with the approach of dawn. After chowing down some peanut butter and honey on 12 grain bread, we made our minds up to go for the car.
The remainder of the hike is very fuzzy in my memory. I remember it seemed endless, and surreal, with birds chirping in the early morning hours, and Jeff and I expecting at any moment to be charged by a bull moose, with nowhere to escape due to the narrow trail, and dense forest on either side. We made it back to the car and lean-to without further incident, and decided we'd had enough of Katahdin and Baxter. We loaded the car and drove to the first motel we could find, which was still probably 90 minutes away. We arrived just after check-in/out, and passed out almost immediately.
We woke up somewhere around 5pm, and took inventory. It turned out that the motel had a restaurant attached to it, that happened to specialize in seafood. (I know, right? In Maine of all places; what are the chances?) I can't remember what I had for an entrée, but I do remember having the best damn New England clam chowder of my life! Then I remember beer, then in-room HBO, then watching Bill Cosby: Himself before passing out again.
The next day we drove to Bar Harbor, and spent the remainder of the week day hiking around Acadia, car camping, drinking, and eating seafood. Definitely stands out as the most memorable vacation of my life, and the hike and failure to summit Katahdin as my number 1 type 3 fun experience. Number 1 type 2 fun; climbing Haleakala on Maui on my mountain bike. Number 1 type 1 fun; a tie between descending Haleakala on my mountain bike, and taking 2nd place over-all on qualifying day for the Bear Mountain Mogul Challenge at Killington in '96 or '97. (got sat down in the first round of duals on day 2).