Appreciating the Beauty of the Appalachian Trail

Right now in this moment I am sitting 50 miles south of Mount Katahdin, the summit that marks the end of my arduous 2,190 mile journey. I’m actually sitting on a rock near the southwestern tip of a huge lake in the 100 Mile Wilderness. I’ve watched a countless number of hikers go by without stopping to admire the view. And in that moment I realized I’ve been doing the same thing.

Many of the northbound thru hikers are rushing to summit Katahdin; so many of us are feeling like it’s crunch time. Many are on a schedule to catch a plane ride home, or return to school before the college semester starts. A handful are mentally exhausted, and even more are physically exhausted. We are within reach of the final climb, and we can’t shake the feeling of excitement.

Time has flown by, and now I feel the pressure to hang on to every moment. I feel guilty that I didn’t successfully implement the two traditions I started on day one (daily selfies and journaling). I feel as if I didn’t take enough photos and video of the trail—not just the views but the actual conditions of the trail (rock, mud, roots).

I feel this sudden urgency that I’ve run out of time, so I’ve promised myself to do the following from now until the end of my thru hike:
•take a minute to appreciate the views and snap a photo
•follow the blue blaze to the hidden waterfall you’ve heard for the last mile
•end the day’s hike early to stay at that sweet campsite
•rock hop across ponds and lakes
•climb down steep side trails just for a better view
•admire the stars during middle-of-the-night bathroom breaks

I have had plenty of time to do all of these things but my mind has been on just one task: completing the damn thing.

I’ve decided to slackpack with a friend down the trail for about a month once I summit Katahdin. I plan on revisiting the sections I didn’t get to enjoy enough. I know I will always want more but I hope this brings me some kind of peace because there is so much to see with so little time. If you’re planning a thru hike, make sure you not only put in the miles but put in the time to enjoy the beauty of the trail.

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