Climbing Mt Katahdin, the Finale; AT Day 134

Abol Bridge to Mt. Katahdin, Baxter Peak, 15.1 miles

Today was the day I had been day-dreaming about for years. Mt Katahdin was calling, and it was time to finish this thing off. My dad and I drove back to Abol Bridge where we began our 10 mile hike through Baxter State Park, accompanied by Jackrabbit. The hiking through Baxter State Park was easy and scenic; most of the miles felt like a casual nature walk featuring completely flat and smooth trail. It was a bit overcast today, not the perfect weather day, but it certainly could have been worse.

We quickly made our way through pine and birch forests, alongside massive brooks and streams, and past several waterfalls. Before we knew it, we arrived at Katahdin Stream Campground, at the base of the mystical Mt Katahdin. One final climb was the only thing that stood in the way between me and the Northern terminus. Mt Katahdin isn’t your typical climb, however. The summit sign surely has to be earned; as hikers must ascend over 4,000 feet over a span of 5 miles. I bid farewell to my dad with a “see ya on the other side” and began the final ascent.

The trail going up Katahdin is absolutely beautiful, no surprise there. Spruce and pine trees dominate the landscape, and the AT passes the scenic Katahdin Stream Falls about a mile in. The climb up Katahdin can essentially be broken down into four stages; gradual, steep, technical, and rock climbing. The climb started off very similar to any other climb in Southern Maine, before breaking tree line at 3,500 feet.

This is where the real work begins. The trail disappears and all that remains are piles of large car-sized boulders, and the white blazes only act as a guide to show that you’re headed in the right direction. Immediately upon breaking treeline, I passed a day hiker descending the mountain, who told me:

”This is the sketchiest thing I’ve ever done. You can get severely f***ed up if you’re not careful.” It seemed like he was trying to deter me from attempting this ascent.

Turning around and quitting wasn’t exactly an option for me. I put my poles away and began climbing; grabbing on to rebars built into the rocks to pull myself upwards. Despite the sun shining at 1,000 feet, Katahdin was completely socked in, so no views would be had on this climb. The rock climbing was pretty intense, but very fun for me, as I soaked in every moment of this climb, not even thinking about the summit sign that lies just ahead.

At 4,500 feet, the trail reaches “The Gateway”, where the trail flattens out, with the next 1.5 miles to the summit being a celebratory cakewalk. I couldn’t see much through the thick layer of fog, and closely followed the rock cairns that guided me closer to the summit. I was loving it up here; day hikers maybe not so much. One group descending past me were talking about how “today wasn’t the day”. Little did they know, today was in fact the day. The day to obtain hiking glory, and to cap off a life-long dream.

Without realizing I was very close to the top, the summit sign came into view. Heart pumping, I scurried up to the sign and placed both hands on the sign that signified not only the summit of this epic mountain, but the end of my journey. It’s hard to put in words the exact feelings that I felt when I first touched that sign; it felt almost like I was in a dream.

I thought reaching the end might have been a bittersweet feeling, but to be honest, I felt nothing but pure happiness and excitement. I had accomplished something I had been dreaming of almost all my life, and I am yet to experience a feeling better than accomplishing something that I had worked soo hard for. There would be time to have those bittersweet feelings, but for now, I was feeling on top of the world, ready for the celebrations to begin.

I stood on the large, wooden sign, let out a loud “let’s goooo” and was greeted to an applause from day hikers who were happy to witness this special moment. Jackrabbit and I hung out on the summit, soaking in this moment as much as we could while devouring pretzel rods, before making our way down the mountain, as official thru-hikers of the Appalachian Trail.

Well, that’s a wrap for this blog series. I want to extend a massive THANK YOU to everyone who has been following along with my hike, and given their words of support and encouragement. One of my goals for writing these blogs was to inspire others to follow their AT dreams, and if there is one person who decides to hike this trail from reading my blogs, that really means a lot to me. If you’re reading this right now and feel drawn to hiking this trail, do it! Hiking the AT is hard, like really hard, but if you feel that strong pull from the white blazes, much like I had for years, you absolutely should go for it, and give it your all. Mt Katahdin and Springer Mountain will always be there waiting for you.

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Comments 47

  • Nancy Tilton : Aug 22nd

    Congratulations!! I’ve really enjoyed reading all of your blogs. Your writing was so nicely detailed that I felt like I could get a little taste of what it’s like. One day I’ll get out there too! Thank you for taking the time to share your journey!

    • Jen : Aug 24th

      Max, congratulations on your huge achievement! I hope you are enjoying a celebratory dinner and will sleep well in a real bed tonight. You must have so many thoughts swirling in your mind! I know on a cruise, I have a hard time journaling every day because I’m too tired! You have put me to shame! Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us so honestly and descriptively, and once again, your photos are stunning. 🌲⛺️

  • Ed Walsh : Aug 22nd

    Congratulations Max! I have been an interested stealth follower since your beginning prior to Springer Mountain. I am a fellow NYer just down the 90 in Buffalo. I enjoyed your honest writing and am inspired. I have a bucket list dream to do the same in the Spring of ’23. Thanks for the vicarious push.

  • Angie : Aug 22nd

    Congratulations Max! My 13 yr old son and I have followed your blog since we met you on the trail in GA. We have looked forward to reading each entry. Thank you for the great writing and allowing us to be a part of your AT thru hike!

  • John falduto : Aug 23rd

    Thank you I have followed your hike since the beginning. Next week I am hiking another section. Have been going back to the trail since 2001 hiking a section here and a section there. Following your hike has helped me remember why someday I will finish. Thank you…

  • Matt : Aug 23rd

    Way to go, Max! I enjoyed reading your journey this year. Keep up the writing: you really put me there with you.

  • Mary Olien : Aug 23rd

    Thank you for sharing your journey! Congratulations on achieving your goal!! All the best for whatever comes next! (BTW Congratulations to Jack Rabbit, too!)

  • Shirley Stone : Aug 23rd

    Congratulations. Will miss your blog and pictures.

  • Julie : Aug 23rd

    Thank you for sharing your journey! You’re a wonderful writer! I’m older and waiting to retire in summer ‘24. You’ve definitely helped seal my plans to tackle the AT…probably in sections, but who knows? Thank you for the entertainment, but mostly for the motivation and inspiration.

  • Mary G Leffler : Aug 23rd

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey & congratulations! I will miss reading your words, you should make a book because I would surely buy it. My husband, our 2 dogs, & I will continue our “section” day hikes on the AT following ever so slowly in your footsteps.

  • Allison : Aug 23rd

    Well done! I’ll miss your posts, but you have inspired this middle-aged mother of three to at least try a section hike over the next few years. On to the next adventure! (After some well deserved rest…)

  • Mama Kiel : Aug 23rd

    I will miss reading your blogs and I am so proud of you. You have so many great things to look forward to and I can’t wait to see more of your creations and follow your adventures. XOXO

  • David Groce : Aug 23rd

    First, along with the others, let me extend a hearty congratulations to you on the completion of your NOBO through hike of the AT. I imagine it will be many years, though, before the full significance of your accomplishment is set in your mind.

    Second, also along with some of the others, I’d like to thank you for taking us along on your journey. You really can’t know just how much we enjoyed each post and how much we looked forward to the next post. Thank you, thank you, for devoting the extra effort and energy it took to thoughtfully compose each post in a way that had us readers feeling as though we were right there hovering over your shoulder.

    I hope your re-entry to life off the trail goes smoothly. And, as a coda to your blog, I hope you will let us know what the near future holds for you.


    • David Odell : Aug 23rd

      Congratulations on finishing your AT hike. Enjoyed your excellent journal. David Odell AT71 PCT72 CDT77

  • Efrain Cardoza : Aug 23rd

    You are truly an inspiration to me and a lot of other folks.
    Completing the AT, no one can ever take it away, because you did it.
    You are a testament to the fact that all journeys start with the first step.

  • Laurie Haw : Aug 23rd

    A huge WAAAHOOO for you Max!! I have followed you all along your fabulous trek thru the AT. I am sure you have inspired many to seek out their own journey. Thank you for taking the time to blog your adventure and a well deserved CONGRATULATIONS on your achievement!!

  • DMFINO : Aug 23rd

    CONGRATUALTIONS. Your trek and writing were one of the best and I will miss it. Thank you!!! DMFINO

  • Paul : Aug 23rd

    Congrats…and thanks for the interesting musings and spectacular photos!

  • Reindeer : Aug 23rd

    What else is there to say that hasn’t already been said…….👍

  • Ross : Aug 23rd

    While this hike has ended, your beacon of inspiration to others is just beginning to glow. You have gifts. Thank you for sharing them with us.

  • Blaze (GA-ME ‘94) : Aug 23rd

    Congratulations Max! Any plans for a triple crown? (My one regret: I didn’t go on to the PCT and CDT right after the AT; I waited five years but by then it was too late, physical problems caused me to abort the PCT after 100 miles). If you’re going to go for all three – do them now while you are in shape and have the time off!

  • Eric : Aug 23rd

    What a great accomplishment, and something you will have forever! You’ve joined a distinguished club…congratulations.

  • Bill Yeadon : Aug 23rd

    Congrats Max,

    Like many others, I have been following you since Springer. I especially liked the times when you were with your dad. As you grow older I think those times will truly resonate.

    Hopefully, in a few weeks, you will write up your feelings about the whole trip. Today it is all too fresh.

    Congrats on this and any other adventures you may choose.

  • Noreen Maier : Aug 23rd

    Congratulations! Thoroughly Enjoyed reading your blog! Best of Luck to you on your future endeavors!

  • Mike D : Aug 23rd

    Congratulations Max! Huge accomplishment & so happy that you were able to make it to the top of Katahdin. I have been following your blog since you started at Springer & looked forward to every update you published. You have been a great source of inspiration for getting the most out of life (and not just hiking). Your wisdom is far beyond your years. I wish you all the best on your future adventures & hope to see you on the trail some day!

  • Sharri : Aug 23rd

    Outstanding, Young Man! I have enjoyed following you. My love just hit 1900 miles NOBO a few days ago. Soon he’ll be summiting Mt. Katahdin and definitely finishing a life long dream.
    I truly wish you well in life.
    Sharri from Texas

  • GRT : Aug 23rd

    Congratulations! Thanks for allowing us to share in your adventure.

  • Sara : Aug 23rd

    Congratulations, Max!!! Thank you so much for bringing us along on your journey. Both your writing and photos are exemplary. Each day that you’ve posted has been a brighter one because of it. I’m looking forward to following you on IG. Keep writing!! Thank you.

  • John : Aug 23rd

    Awesome, congratulations. I really enjoyed following you from day one. Very impressed what how positive you remained even though there were tough days. An inspiration. Thank you PS: did you see many 63 yr old men?

  • Barb C : Aug 23rd

    Congratulations on the completion of your thru hike!!!! I have been following your travels since the beginning and enjoyed your adventure. The lessons you have learned will stay with you a lifetime. You are an inspiration to future hikers. Best of luck for what may lie ahead.

  • Allen Kinsella : Aug 23rd

    Congrat’s my friend! Well done

  • Debbie : Aug 23rd

    Congratulations! I enjoyed reading your posts about your journey. Best of luck to you!

  • Pedro : Aug 24th

    Nice work and congrats!! Enjoy following along with you on your adventure. A trip you will never forger!
    GA-ME 97

  • Darrell Smith : Aug 24th

    Congratulations Max. I have enjoyed following you the last 3 months I even went back and read the earlier post that I had missed. Great writing and photographs. Definitely inspiring.

  • TaffyUK : Aug 24th

    Well done Max, great write up, GLAD you made it.

    I made plenty of notes for my 2022 NOBO.

    Thanks for taking the time to post here.

  • Peter Moran : Aug 24th

    great job, Thanks for taking us along with your blog…..great read.


  • Alex Jaloway : Aug 24th

    Congrats. Thanks for writing as I enjoyed following your adventure

  • Kelli Ramey : Aug 24th

    What a pleasure it has been to follow your adventure. Only sorry it is over for now. What will we read?
    Thank you. Please keep writing. And Congrats.

    • TaffyUK : Aug 25th

      Exactly my thoughts.

      I looked forward to the updates coming every few days or so.

      As I move up the trail next year, I will re-read them in advance of each planned on section.

  • lindm0120 : Aug 25th

    Yay! You did it! Congrats! I followed your blog from the beginning. Thanks for letting us trek the AT with you. Best of luck in all that you do!

  • Karen K. : Aug 25th

    Congratulations!!! 👏🎉 I ran across your blog mid-hike, backtracked thru your posts & have been keeping up with your progress. 😊

    I am not a hiker or a camper, but really enjoyed your recounting of your experiences & the peek into the outdoor life! I’m very happy for you that you finished your quest successfully & wish you all the best in the future. Thanks lots for the posts & the pix!


    Congratulations on your finish. I also enjoyed your post. I did feel like I was walking right next to you with your descriptions. My thru-hike is still five years away. But your ideas on how to attack obstacles was helpful. Hope to see more of your writings in the future.

  • robin : Aug 25th

    thanks for the journey Max. i got to walk the trail from my front room.

  • Beth : Sep 3rd

    Congratulations! I’ve been following your journey since the beginning! I’m so happy you did it!!


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