AT 11: The End Of A 9 Month Journey! “MD & WV”

“Photos & a compilation video for the end of our hike follow this update”

The End????!?!?

The moment I stepped off the Appalachian Trail onto the blue blaze trail that leads to the ATC headquarters I knew life would never be the same. The reality that the trail was over is essentially a brick wall you run into face first. Nothing can prevent it, but it comes nonetheless. Many emotions flow throughout you on a daily basis, some good and some bad, but none compare to that day.

A 9 Month Journey

From 3/19/17 – 12/14/17 the AT was my life. A beautiful part of my life. The most amazing and difficult thing I have ever accomplished. The best and worst thing that ever happened to me… okay it wasn’t the worst… it just sucked sometimes… a lot. Hike and live in the rain for 5-6 days straight… on three separate occasions… and you’ll know what I mean. Anyways, nothing can quite compare to the awesomeness that is the Appalachian Trail and it is for that reason a decision was made 2 days prior to 12/14. I spent almost 9 months hiking the AT. Something truly special to me. So special, that I want it to end on my terms and in a fashion I desire. So, that is why I chose to leave 161.2 miles of the AT for May.

Finishing What Was Started

I hiked every mile from Georgia to Waynesboro, VA (861.9 miles), took a bus to Maine, and hiked every mile back to Harpers Ferry, WV (1166.7 miles)… for a total of 2028.6 miles. Rain, cold, snow, hail, 80 mph winds, injuries, and sometimes pure laziness did not stop me from completing every one of those miles. Loins of Arabia and I planned to rush and finish up the last 161.2 miles between Harpers & Waynesboro before Christmas. That way we would be done with the trail and official “Thru-Hikers.” Then it occurred to us. This is our hike. We want to finish on a bang. Sure we could have toughed it out, but in the end we decided we wanted to finish in the Spring and enjoy the Shenandoahs in their prime… plus the waysides are open then!

A Judgemental Hiking Community

Many will judge us and have negative remarks for not finishing up. Shoot, I had a hiker comment on my Facebook Status that we were “pussies” for not finishing up. First off, that was uncalled for. Second, if I don’t want to continue hiking in the cold and want to finish up in the spring I can! Hike your own Hike! This year I have seen many hikers finish up and officially adopt the title of “thru-hiker” even though they skipped sections of the trail. Whether a couple miles or hundreds… people drunk blazed, yellow blazed, jumped ahead to catch up to friends, just plain said screw a section and still call themselves thru-hikers. I’m not judging them… I’m only trying to make a point. There is no right way to hike the trail. Everyone wants something different. So, I suppose what I’m trying to say is… hike your own hike… because I’m gonna savor the flavor… of the AT.  Anyways, I hiked every mile in the 2028.6 I have done and will finish the last 161.2 in a few short months. Sure we will be a little over the “12 month” timeframe for being considered “thru-hikers,” but I will have hiked every mile at that point and to me that’s what matters.

Hike Your Own Hike

You do what makes you happy and I’ll do what makes me happy, but one thing is certain…. when May roles around I’ll finish the AT off for good… at which point I will reveal my plans for 2019/2020! So stick around and see what the future holds. For life is more than an argument over who did what or who’s hike is superior. It’s about finding peace within yourself and living life to the fullest. So, can’t we all just get along?

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 8

  • Butch : Dec 19th

    Be encouraged. You have something wonderful awaiting your winter . . excitement of going back! You will have time to digest your experiences . . and then go back again. Relish that opportunity. How do I know? Summer of 2017 my son and I became LDSHs. And I am already excited about spring and the opportunity to continue the experience again. One of the hallmarks of any pilgrimage is the realization that it is about the path, not the destination. Well . . then you get to continue your path. Why would you want to do anything else?

    – Butch (trail name)

    • Koty : Dec 19th

      Completely agree!

  • CK : Dec 19th

    Can I ask why it took ya’ll so long? No judgment, just trying to understand any obstacles I may run into.

    • Koty : Dec 19th

      In the southern portion I had issues with my feet. By five miles in everyday my feet were screaming and by 8-10 miles I was in pain. So, we had very short miles in the south. I tried all kinds of shoes and insole variations. It wasn’t until around mile 1200 that I bought Altra Lone Peak 3.0s. Instantly fixed all of my problems. By the time I got off trail I was hitting 17-20 miles a day regularly. We also spent 17 days off trail in New Hampshire after southern Maine destroyed my knee. I could barely walk. Also spent a week off trail in Virginia for poison ivy in the places that rub as well as a week and a half off in transition to Maine from Virginia. In all we had 30 days off trail attributed to injury or travel. As well as roughly 30 typical zero days.

  • Megan Scott : Dec 20th

    I love your attitude, your story, and your photos! Now I’m going to go back and read the rest of your posts. Thank you!

    • Koty : Dec 22nd

      Thanks and I hope you enjoy!

  • Ernie Lukacs : Dec 22nd

    I love how you never quit!! You keeped trying different things, and it all got you to the inevitable end!! Great job!! I hope I find myself out there 1year soon. I need to retire first, then I’m on my way. ???

    • Koty : Dec 22nd

      If you’re not enjoying yourself try another way. Don’t throw in the towel until you’ve tried everything you can and are positive it’s not for you. I loved being out there. I just had some issues along the way. You never know until you’re out there what is going to happen. I hope you are able to get on trail when you desire and enjoy every moment. Do it your way and in a way that makes you happy!


What Do You Think?