Day 162 – The Day Before Katahdin

I woke up well rested but in no hurry to start the day. Today was a day for savoring. Today was a slow burn kind of day. The kind where all moods are lifted and you’re high on life. Because life is good, and more good things are on the horizon. I took my time getting ready and lounging in the cozy little stealth site.

Purple Pioneer and I started the day 34 miles from the peak of Katahdin and 20 from Baxter State Park. We rode cloud 9 the whole way in. It was a beautiful day and nothing could ruin it. Not rocks, not roots, not mud, or bugs.

Every stream, lake, pond and portion of trail had an extra bit of meaning to it. Was it because this was our penultimate day on trail and it all just meant more? Or was it because it was really just that nice out? Looking back on the photos I would venture a guess it was both.

The trail was leisurely and flat. The 20 miles into Baxter were cake by the hiking standards we’d become accustomed to. There were giant moss covered boulders and trails strewn with freshly fallen, bright red leaves. These leaves had seemed to speak to me all trail long. A pop of color I could remember fondly, as far back as Virginia. They seemed to have an uplifting effect every time I’d see one. And here I am in Maine, spoiled by them. Maple trees spilling their bounty out before me to admire.

14 miles in I arrived at the Rainbow Ledges. It’s a highland of rock, roughly 1500 feet in elevation, with a sneak peek of Katahdin framed through the trees. A small descent took me to Hurd Mountain Lean-to, the last shelter before Baxter. I jotted down a quick note, hoping those I’ve met along the way, and still behind me might read it.

My heart is feeling very full and grateful for all the memories this trail has provided. I’m even more grateful for the beautiful souls I’ve had the pleasure of meeting along the way and sharing those memories with.

The final stroll down into Baxter State Park was like the end of the ‘Land Before Time.’ Against all odds, trials, and tribulations, I strolled down into ‘The Great Valley,’ with my dinosaur friends having reached the end of my journey (terrible analogy but you get what I mean). It was an immense feeling of accomplishment having come this far (despite having one day left).

I crossed Abol bridge in the park looking forward to the convenience store on the other side when I was completely blindsided. There standing in all its glory, obscured by trees up until crossing the bridge, was Mt Katahdin. It stood out clearly and larger than life. I had just seen a glimpse of it 6 miles before but it really impressed at this moment. It had an effect on Purple Pioneer too because she almost dropped my phone off the bridge trying to take my photo.

We eventually made it across, phones intact and proceed to stuff our faces with convenience store glory (Mountain Dew, beer, and sandwiches). Outside we found Lucky McShorts, Build-a-Bear, Ninja and Photo Baggins. After our feast we proceeded on into Baxter Park.

The campgrounds were another 9 miles in and it was 6PM. We signed the roster for summiting the next day. We could have shortened it by taking a blue blaze, but I was not about to break my purist streak on the second to last day. After filling out the paperwork we pressed on down the trail.

It was flat and easy and meandered passed more streams and various views of Katahdin. Katahdin is an Indian word which means ‘highest land.’ It was certainly visible from a number of vantage points on this day.

After 3 miles, I took my last dip in the stream at sunset. It was brisk but highly refreshing after a whirlwind of a day. By the time we made camp, it was dark and we enjoyed a quick dinner and it was early to bed for an early rise. 

I thought back to a line from Brave New World. It’s said:

“Is it any happiness, or any comfort to consider that we are our own? It may be thought so by the young and prosperous, these may think it a great thing to have everything they suppose their own way, to depend on no one. To have to think of nothing out of sight. To be without the irksomeness of continual acknowledgement. Continual prayer, continual reference of what they do to the will of another. But as time goes on, they as all men will find that independence, was not made for man. That it is an unnatural state. It will do for a while, but will not carry us on safely to the end.”

I’m taking it out of context, but to me it has meaning that I did not complete this trail alone. Sure I started it alone, but the camaraderie I found along the way, in hikers and you readers alike, has meant the world. I surely had help, and that fact is not lost on me. I’ll give my thank you’s out tomorrow but it was something I thought about before bed. On that note, and for one last time.

Stow away with me in my pack for Day 163, my last day on the Appalachian Trail

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 31

  • Rem : Oct 2nd

    Sounds like you already figured it out. You were on top of Mt Katadhin the first day you stepped on the trail. Congrats on your journey, and the next!!

  • Thunder Road : Oct 2nd

    Thanks for sharing your journey as you did, dedicating the time to write when you were wet, cold, hot, exhausted, hungry, burned out, or just plain didn’t feel like it. It’s been an amazing opportunity to follow quite an adventure.
    Good luck on all your adventures to come .

  • Chris : Oct 2nd

    Tomorrow’s blog post:
    Day 163 – I’m not crying you’re crying.

    I can’t wait for tomorrow’s post. And I’ll do like I’ve done everyday since I started following you,.. I’ll get into work, and read your posts.

  • Tim : Oct 2nd

    I’ve been following you since Virginia and have really enjoyed your posts. Can’t wait to hear about the end, tomorrow.

  • Darrell Barrett : Oct 2nd

    As a long distance hiker, Trail Angle and Shuttle Driver from Hiawassee, Ga, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed you sharing your epic journey!

  • Tab Boardley : Oct 2nd

    I have enjoyed following your journey. I believe what you take from this journey will add so much to your life. Thank you for sharing this adventure. The best to you.

  • Lynn Benedict : Oct 2nd

    What a delight to follow your journey and thoughts! Much gratitude.

  • Faith : Oct 2nd

    Well done you! Thank you for your thought provoking prose, gorgeous pictures and multiple laughs…ive really enjoyed it..i wish you all that is good in your follow on life! All the best…

  • CB : Oct 2nd

    Your posts and photos get amazinger and amazinger! For me, your hike and your willingness to purposefully and consistently and truly masterfully share it has been a gift. I know that this part of that gift is over now, but because it has been such a blessing it will continue on with me just as many other events, places, and people from my past have. Like a good book or movie or relationship, etc, your hike has now become part of me and therefore will help to shape me. I won’t be reading about it as I have for the past 160 days and it will become more muted as time goes on, but shaped me it has. Obviously, there have been more powerful ‘shapers’ in my life, but that doesn’t make the smaller ones less important. Also, the point at which these shapers are encountered in life doesn’t diminish their importance. Without Springer in the beginning, the splashes of Virginia color in the middle, and now Purple Pioneer and Katahdin at the end, your hike, and my appreciation for it would not be the same. Thank You! Well done!

  • Philip Schramp : Oct 2nd

    It’s interesting to see so many comments. And here I thought it was just you and me having this daily conversation for the last 160 days! If you experience the rest of your life with the same insitefullness, zest for fun, and openness to experiencing and accepting whatever the world brings to you each day, I can only imagine what you will continue to accomplish. Thank you for sharing this slice of your life with us. Revel in the joy of victory tomorrow!

  • Lulu : Oct 2nd

    You’re gonna make me cry! All the best

  • Sierra Whisky : Oct 2nd

    Hello Witch Doctor

    I’ve been following from across the pond from your very first post and want to congratulate and thank you. If I’m honest at the beginning I doubted you. Not that you’d get to the big K but that you’d be able to keep up the daily posts! I’ve followed hikers on The Trek for many years and I think you’re the first to have posted daily and make it from GA to ME.

    Your words have been wise (and some hilarious) and the photos incredible, I’d have paid good money to buy the book about your hike. I’ll miss reading the posts every day but I feel my life will be richer having followed your adventure. Maybe one day I’ll have a go myself instead of just reading about it.

    So what next? Whatever it is best of luck with it and thanks again for putting in the commitment to post so regularly and congratulations!

  • Rushmore : Oct 2nd

    No words can express the joy I’ve received from your photos and words! Thank you!

  • Anna : Oct 2nd

    Witch Doctor–these photos are the best of the best! I think nature is expressing your heart! It threw you a ticker taper parade of red leaves.
    Thank you for taking this armchair thru-hiker on the journey of her life through your eyes and your fellow hikers. What a journey!
    Best wishes for what comes next…

  • Elizabeth Pageotte : Oct 2nd

    Thank you for sharing your hiking journey . I will miss the updates, like other people have said , I looked forward to reading them every day. Congratulations and cheers to you for finishing the AT. I hope you take us on more hiking journeys in the future. Also the pictures were/are awesome. Is the PCT or CDT in the future ?

  • Claudia Kent : Oct 2nd

    Thank you. I’m going to miss this.

  • Cheri : Oct 2nd

    Thank you so much for taking me on your journey with you! The highlight of my day has been reading your posts and enjoying your gorgeous pictures, I feel like I’m right there with you! I love your spirit and your humor! I am teary-eyed, and so excited for you to finish today! I’m proud of you, and praise God for keeping you safe! You have brought me so much joy and I thank you very much! God bless!

  • Linda : Oct 2nd

    I caught up to you on your blog when you were a few weeks into your epic adventure. Now, reading that your journey is about to end, I’m a little sad…for me. But I’m elated for you! You are the best blogger I’ve read thus far. I loved hiking vicariously through you. Your observations, descriptions and humor were/are fantastic. I could feel your emotion through your good days and bad. And your photos…amazing. You’ve captured so much beauty of the trail. Thank you so much for sharing these last few months. I’ll miss you! I can’t wait to read about your last day on the trail!

  • Ellen R : Oct 2nd

    This has to be the best photos I have seen of Katahdin! Looking forward hearing about your summit of the mountain. And to echo a previous reader’s comment, it will be bittersweet as I will miss reading about your hike when you have completed your journey.

  • Marie : Oct 2nd

    So cool to see all the comments today. Your post tomorrow is greatly anticipated! I’m sure you are excited and sad for the finale…as all of us are out here. Exquisite photos today. Enjoy this evening and seize the day tomorrow.

  • Kaye Hill : Oct 2nd

    You have written some amazing memories as you’ve traversed the Eastern USA. There have been times I’ve ached with you, took in the beauty of mountain tops, and laughed at your graphic exploits. Tomorrow I will cry with you. The finish line. What an accomplishment. God bless you.

  • Lady Ray Romano : Oct 2nd

    What joy you’ve provided so many by sharing your journey – all aspects of it. Grateful for the chance to stow away one more day.

  • Ryan McGroarty : Oct 2nd

    I have read about your exploits faithfully from day one. I have thoroughly enjoyed your recounts of your journey. The pictures have been outstanding, May you find what you were seeking on this trip. Happy trails.

  • Hairgypsy : Oct 3rd

    Witch Doctor!
    Thank you for taking us along on your truly incredible journey!
    Your insightful posts, your fantastic photos, and of course your sense of humour will indeed be missed.
    Looking forward to seeing where your journey in life takes you.
    Enjoy your last day in the clouds!
    Best to you Always!

  • Lori : Oct 3rd

    Beautiful writing and beautiful photos! You captured the day perfectly in both.

  • Berenice : Oct 3rd

    So many beautiful memories.
    Thank you for sharing. I will miss your post 🙂

  • CB : Oct 3rd

    Dude! We’re waaaaiiiiting…. Those of us with huge and vivid imaginations are going nuts so dish, will ya?

  • jen l : Oct 3rd

    I love your tone of gratitude throughout. What a gift to be able to see new things, smell new smells, and experience the present in ever unfolding moments. I’ll be curious what your readjustment to life off trail involves. And what will I do without reading your daily reflections before bed?

  • Abbycurt : Oct 3rd

    What a journey! Your posts have brought the reader into your adventure. Every. Day. My husband has no idea I’ve been thru hiking the AT every evening for 163 days – without Tylenol, Ibuprofen or being muddy and wet of course. Thanks for stowing us all away in your pack. All the best!

  • Peggy Davis : Oct 5th

    I followed your blogs from beginning to end. Your positivity and fabulous photos made every post enjoyable. Will you please share what camera or phone you used? Thank you, and best wishes to you going forward.

  • Old Doc : Oct 5th

    Well done. Thank you for this vicarious experience.


What Do You Think?