Day 163 – The Katahdin Arrival (Fallacy)

My alarm went off earlier than it had all trail long, with the exception of my 2AM wake up before attempting (and failing) the 4-State Challenge. I woke up the same way you wake up on Christmas morning. Your head shoots off the pillow and you know (before you’re even fully awake) exactly what day it is. It’s mother fucking Christmas!! (AKA: summit day!! potato tomato)

I found Purple Pioneer already awake and making coffee, hammock packed away and practically ready to go. It was 5:15AM. The sun wasn’t even up yet, and I prefer to rise with the sun, not before it. Despite my excitement, Katahdin wasn’t going anywhere so I hit the snooze for another 20 minutes.

I got up with the sun and packed as hastily as I ate my breakfast. We had 6 morning miles to hike to get to the base of Katahdin. Another 5 to summit, and at least 3 to get down depending on the route. If my math is correct, (and it is, I checked) that’s 14 miles and a climb to elevations not seen since New Hampshire and the whites. Not an easy day but I expected we’d be running on adrenaline to fuel it. That and the Redbull I packed out (they didn’t have Monster).

We got on trail before 6:30AM and were hoping to get to Katahdin Stream Campground by 9AM. That morning I walked solo and recorded my ‘Final Week on Trail’ episode for Treks Trail Correspondent Podcast. It gave me time to reflect on my headspace and what I was feeling. I thought back to this whole week in the wilderness. River crossings, and trail magic, and hurricanes (oh my).

I couldn’t even keep my emotions together just talking by myself (and to myself) into the phone. It would certainly not bode well for keeping dry eyes at the top. I kept the draft and decided I’d re-record it later with better composure (spoiler alert: I didn’t end up re-recording and just submitted it as is).

We stopped at Little Niagara Falls along the way. It was a neat little spot and would have been great for a dip but we had bigger fish to fry. We strolled into Katahdin Stream Campground shortly after 9. We checked in the Ranger station but no Rangers were to be found. So we signed the log book and sat down at a nearby bench for a second breakfast. My pack was feeling extra light as I had only enough food left for that days snacks.

The Ranger showed up shortly after we sat down and proceeded to register our day hike up to Katahdin and give the rundown. Here I got my newest and last trail number. I started April 14th as AT hiker #2568. I visited Harpers Ferry, WV on July 1st as #1116.

I’ll be finishing at Katahdin as #927. The Ranger was super nice and answered all our questions. He also talked us out of hiking down Knifes Edge. It’s one of several routes down from the summit, all of which require a shuttle or hitch out of Baxter State Park to Millinocket, the nearest town. And It was one of the harder locations to hitch from.

With the pleasantries out of the way, we thanked the Ranger and started our hike. Everything up until this point today was just the preamble, the opening credits, the pre-game festivities. It was time for the final climb, on the final day, of this epic journey. Excited just does not quite capture it. I was giddy.

We started up the 5.2 mile trail. It’s started very (and this is the last time I’ll use this word) cruise-y. The trail had a gentle rise as it followed along Katahdin stream and multiple small falls. A mile or so in I came to the last privy along the AT, so obviously I used it. I’m pretty sure it was Michael Jordan who said, “You miss 100% of the privy’s you don’t poop in.”

After this, the climb ramped up higher and had small streams of water that flowed down the trail. At roughly the 2.5 miles in, the rocks near the upper portion of the tree line required some small scrambles to get up. At this point I put away my trek poles. They did not come back out of my pack the rest of the way up.

Up above tree line, the whole mountain range and valley opened up before us. A glimpse of Maine to the south became more and more clear, the higher we climbed. Lakes and ponds marked the landscape as far as the eye could see. A quote from the Maine Woods by Thoreau during his climb of Katahdin entered my head:

The forest looked like a firm grass sward, and the effect of these lakes in its midst has been well compared, by one who has since visited this same spot, to that of a “mirror broken into a thousand fragments, and wildly scattered over the grass, reflecting the full blaze of the sun.”

I could have sat above the tree line and admired the view all day. But this was also where the climbing got fun. The rock scrambles turned into semi-technical bouldering (V0, V1, and V2’s). Hand holds became equally as important as where my feet lay. Even though it slowed the pace, it was a really enjoyable scramble. I fired off a text to Chiquita telling him we would love this part (he’s an avid climber).

The boulders seemed to stretch on in a never ending vertical rockslide. There were countless blazes to follow in the upward direction. There also seemed to be countless available paths up. It was a true choose-your-own-adventure book (hike).

As we approached the top of the mountain on a spine of jagged boulders, I could see a sign in the distance. Was this it? Is this the top? Excitement built with every step. I saw people up there, this has to be it. OMG OMG OMG! We reached the top to find a sign that said ‘Katahdin.’ But it was preceded by “the plant growth on” and followed by “tableland is easily damaged by footsteps. Please help us preserve this area by staying on trail.” It was a false summit, and it got me good.

On the bright side, the trail seemed to flatten out after this. We walked along the tabletop mountain, passing other hikers who gave us well wishings and congratulations on making it this far, or saying “you’re almost there!” Our rock hoping wasn’t over as Thoreau Spring came gushing out of the rocks atop the mountain, flooding a quarter mile stretch of the trail.

From here we could see the true summit. It was a surreal feeling being so close. It was simply a matter of walking the steps and then I’d be there. However, that was always the case from the beginning. I joked at 100-mile mark, (like a football coach, who’s just talking to appease the media) “If we just keeping showing up every day, and putting in the work, and walking all the steps, we’ll get to where we’re going.” But looking back over the past 163 days, I’ve now walked all those steps and there are so few of them left.

This thought consumed me for the last half mile to the end. There’re so few steps left. It’s right there. I can see it. It was all very matter of fact. Very logical. It was odd because I was seemingly devoid of emotion. Such a dramatic change from even this morning. As we crested the final hill, I saw Lucky McShorts, Build-a-Bear and a few other hikers. They all clapped for us and welcomed us to the peak.

I gave a smile, waiting… anticipating emotion. It didn’t come. I walked up to the sign and placed my hand upon the weathered, yet smooth wood. No tears were shed. I was clearly happy, and proud to have made it to this point. It just felt like something was missing. Something I don’t quite have the words to describe. If I tried, the words that would come closest would be ‘numb accomplishment.’ There’s a phenomenon called ‘arrival fallacy’ in which, reaching a goal or destination does not bring about the happiness one would expect from such an accomplishment. We release dopamine in the anticipation of a reward, but once the reward is achieved, there is not the same release we’ve become accustomed to. This is what I experienced.

I went through the motions of taking the photos. I enjoyed my celebratory beer. More hikers arrived and I congratulated them and watched their emotions. Was I missing something? Someone? My mind drifted to Rabbit and Hatcher. Sip and Soda. Hot feet and Neo. Toto and Mudbag. Orphan, Wiki, Feral Goat, and Haze. And so many more. I would have loved to share this moment with all of them. And yet, I had so many individually important moments with each of them.

Perhaps this was the destination telling me that it’s not about the destination. It was about the journey this whole time. And what a journey it was. And still is. After nearly 45 minutes at the peak, It was getting cold. Clouds were ever present during my time there and the only glimpses of knifes edge and the backside of the mountain were transiently visible. After attempted phone calls and some frisbee (for real), we started our descent.

We were spoiled by views the whole way down. They were the same ones we had to turn around to see on the way up. Sunrays streamed down from the clouds to the valley below us. Still riding the high of accomplishment, we took the steep (yet shorter) route down via Abol Trail. The sun was starting to dip in the early afternoon around 4:30PM.

Purple Pioneer and I had our fingers crossed to get a hitch to Millinocket and arrange rides from there to Bangor and Boston respectively for return trips home. We passed a day hiking couple and schemed to chat them up in hopes they might offer us a ride at the bottom of the trail. They were visiting from Indiana on a long weekend trip to Maine. Our pace down the mountain carried our trail-leg equipped bodies down the mountain quicker than many sets of day hikers.

We arrived at Abol Campsite to find Wiki, Haze, Feral Goat, and Orphan. Surprised to find them camping there, they greeted us warmly with hugs and congratulations. I was ecstatic to see them. They had so many questions and we were happy to answer all of them. They would be summiting the following day. Seeing the day hikers we had talked to emerge from the trailhead, we gave heartfelt goodbyes to the group and walked towards the road to enact phase 2 of our plan.

Phase 2 was to stand by the road and look forlorn and without transportation. A look we’ve practiced numerous times between here and Georgia. The hikers immediately offered us a ride before even getting into their car. They were staying just past Millinocket but offered to drive us all the way to Bangor!! After initially rebuffing their offer on the grounds that it was too generous, they explained they were planning to have dinner there anyway and it really wasn’t too much trouble.

Unable to turn down such fortunate magic on our last day, we ended up in Bangor. I booked my flight home for the next morning and we ate dinner at a seafood place. I had a coastal shellfish stew that included Maine Lobster and several appetizers and dessert in celebration. Purple Pioneer and I discussed our ravenous appetites and when we thought our bodies would return to normal. Back at a hotel, I retired to a bed for the first of many more future nights in civilization. Thus ended my final day on the Appalachian Trail.

I’ve learned a lot about myself on this journey. I am all sorts of things. Some things I’m proud of and others less so. I’m selfish, I’m a liar, a cheat, an addict, a narcissist, and many other things I’m not proud of. Ok maybe I don’t meet all of those definitions according to DSM criteria (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). But they are still personal characteristics that can be improved upon.

I can choose to dwell on those negatives and let them fuel, low self-confidence, regret, and resentment. Or I can recognize them as what they are, and try to do better for myself, and/or focus on the positives. In terms of the positives, I am a son, a brother, a boyfriend, a father, a friend, a confidant, a physician, a veteran, and many other labels that apply, but do not define me as a person.

I can be kind and giving. I have a sense of humor most people tend to enjoy, I’m fairly decent at reserving judgment until I have all the facts. And I want to believe the best in people, and give those the benefit of the doubt, to name a few.

What this hike has shown me is you can choose to approach things with any viewpoint you want. You can be bummed about the green tunnel you’re hiking in all day, with no foreseeable way out. Or you can focus on the views that show up unexpectedly along the way. You can focus on the elevation gain and the miles you need to hike and let that bring you down. Or you can take things one step at a time and try to find the good along the way. Counting smiles and not miles. Enjoying the journey day by day, step-by-step.

Lastly, this is a shared victory. I started this journey, mainly solo with a small set of supporters and family behind me. But along the way, I’ve met and had a chance to interact with countless wonderful people who have only added to the inspiration, the drive, and the experience. I wanted to thank you all sincerely and from the bottom of my heart.

Everyone played any role in this thru-hike, no matter how big or small. Whether you’ve been here from the beginning, or just started following last week, I want to say thank you. Some of you have come along willingly, and some I’ve dragged kicking and screaming from start to finish line. Some have reached out in obvious ways and offered money or support in trail magic, places to sleep, or to deliver insoles. And some have been silent bystanders, quietly (or not so quietly) following along from afar. Many thanks to everyone no matter what your role was, they’re all appreciated.

I plan on releasing a couple more blog posts in the following weeks. They’ll be updating you on my trip home and return back to the Matrix. I have plans to compile all my nerd stats to give you guys a rundown, and also do a gear review as requested. If there are more burning questions you have, feel free to leave them in the comments and I’ll either answer them there or make that a whole other post addressing them.

This truly has been a journey that has provided me with many lifetimes over worth of friendships and memories. Thanks for stowing away.

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Comments 63

  • Mammy : Oct 4th

    Congratulations 🎉👏🎉 we made it!!!! Lol. Thank you for taking me on the closest I will ever get to hike the AT. Stowing away in your pack has been tremendous fun for us. For you it was hard muddy miles, being stripped down to bare emotions and keeping on trail with a goodness that bloomed from inside you. We got to witness it all through your words. You are so generous to allow us into such a private aspect of hiking that many would not understand. I watched you grow daily, you made me laugh daily, some days I also cried when I felt your pain. As I have said before….you have much to be proud of; you not only hiked the AT….you carried us all with you as you did it. Thank you!!!! You are so awesome!!! I can’t wait to stow along on your next adventure 🤗😊😀💪 This old lady is very happy to know you and I hope someday to be able to gift you with some homemade cookies….🍪🥛

  • Chris : Oct 4th

    Witch Doctor,

    Thank you for allowing me to armchair the AT with you the last 5+ months. It was a great ride and I wish you and all the AT thru hikers from 2023 much happiness and success in your future endeavors. Safe travels, thanks for keeping this blog going pretty much on a daily basis, which I can only imagine was a thru-hike in its own right.


  • Roz : Oct 4th

    Thank you for the incredible effort of journaling your adventure so we all may follow along. I know there must have been moments when exhaustion wanted to keep you from writing–but you wrote anyway. Thank you! Godspeed to you and the next adventure. Looking forward to your gear post. 🙂

    • Lauren : Oct 4th

      Congratulations! I’ve been reading your posts for quite some time (after a marathon reading session of catching up through your earlier posts 😊), and I’ve loved hearing about your journey. I’ve strictly done day hikes myself, but your writing has inspired me to get out more and tackle some things that I might’ve thought were out of reach previously. Thank you for sharing your journey, it’s been truly delightful to read along each day.

  • Ellen R : Oct 4th

    Congratulations! The weather gods were definitely smiling upon you as it looks like you had a perfect day to summit Katahdin. I enjoyed hiking vicariously through you, reading your daily trials and triumphs. Good luck to you in the future. You have the courage and tenacity to handle whatever is thrown at you. Thanks again for sharing uour journey.

  • Josh : Oct 4th

    Congratulations!! Fantastic account of an amazing journey. Thanks you so much for sharing. I’ll attempt to carry your attitude and approach to my 2024 NOBO.

  • Paula Verace : Oct 4th

    Congratulations Witch Doctor!! I feel pride for you – this is an amazing accomplishment, and I’m so happy for you. I have so much enjoyed reading your posts since the beginning and am going to miss them….and you. Thank you for your sharing your journey. I wish you all the best as you continue on.

    • David Groce : Oct 4th

      Perfectly written. Perfectly said. Perfectly completed. Completed! Well done, Doctor.
      Tomorrow, while you’re reflecting on the past five months and wondering about the next five months, I’ll be staring at my inbox wondering if anything so interesting will ever come in.
      Your unknown friend in the Low Country, David

  • CB : Oct 4th

    What they said!

  • Lisa Varner : Oct 4th

    Congratulations! I have followed your journey the entire way and have so enjoyed reading your day to day adventures. What an accomplishment and what incredible experiences you have had – memories for a lifetime!

  • Charlotte : Oct 4th

    CONGRATULATIONS!!! It’s been awesome stowing away! What an incredible journey!!! I hope you’ll be able to join me, not on trail of course, but in spirit, along with the others from the Class of 2023, I followed from Georgia to Khatadin, with the exception of Peg Leg, who I first met on her Bama to Baxter journey. My adventure will begin on, or near, my 70th birthday, April 14, 2025! Best wishes for a smooth transition back to the “real world”🌏!

    • CB : Oct 4th

      I will be looking forward to following your hike, Charlotte. See you around April?

  • Chris : Oct 4th

    Congratulations on completing this epic journey and thank you for allowing us to stow away in your pack, day-after-day. I’m sure it wasn’t an easy task to keep us updated on your goings-on, and all of us readers appreciate the effort you put in.

    Delivering insoles to you was the first time my wife and I ever did trail magic and it certainly won’t be the last time. It just broke my heart when you threw them away without any concern (kidding!)

    As far as questions go (part of me is too lazy to look this up), but I’m curious as to what your starting weight was, ending weight (if you know it), and how quickly you’ve packed the pounds back on. It always fascinates me to hear about weight loss and gain with hikes like these.

  • Lulu : Oct 4th

    For this old lady, I want a doctor like you! Now I am crying. All the best

  • Jeffvench : Oct 4th

    Congratulations 🎉! First you had me at the false sign. I saw the hands up… fooled
    Me and made me laugh.

    But that is and will be your posts to come. I look forward to reading them too. Don’t worry about the tears that did not come, cuz we all experience them for you, that is family.

    Good luck in the back in the Matrix, thank you for doing this.

    My one question are you going to shave? Or have you always had facial hair?

    In closing, congratulations you have found the cure to all that “ails” us. Between the photo of a mountain view and wooden boardwalk. Your words of wisdom, reflection and muse is indeed the path less taken and a attitude for all. Peace my brother. Vicariously wandering and stowed away till next time……thank you!

  • Candace : Oct 4th

    Thank you for allowing us to travel along with you on the AT. Your blog has been the most enjoyable to read and I’ve enjoyed the pictures and perspectives. Best wishes!

  • Jane deGelleke : Oct 4th

    I’ve followed you each and every day here from North Carolina! To read your posts each morning over breakfast brought me so much pleasure. Your posts were articulate, thoughtful, fun, and insightful! Congratulations on completing the quest you began…I will miss your blogs! Cheers! Jane

  • Aaron : Oct 4th

    Congrats, stoked for you! What an accomplishment! I sincerely appreciate your insight, breathtaking photos, and daily dedication to a silent audience following along. Thank you for documenting the adventure. Looking forward to your followup posts, especially re: the challenges returning to the real world, physical effects, and body weight/composition changes. Cheers!

  • Russ Hobgood : Oct 4th

    Well done Witch Doctor!! Loved stowing away, your pack needs to be washed and aired now 😎. Having hiked some of the AT in Va, you descriptions were vivid. Now you decompress and plan whats next. Take care, best of trail luck everywhere


  • Barbara Allen "Mamaw B" : Oct 4th

    Mamaw B here, AT thru hike 2012
    I pick someone to follow each year and 2023 is your year. I have enjoyed following your journey and especially like your comment “you can take things one step at a time, and try to find the good along the way. Counting smiles and not miles. Enjoying the journey day by day, step-by-step.” I always tell people that one must have a good positive attitude to be successful on a long hike. I’m wishing you well and want you to know I have enjoyed your journey. Happy hiking and happy life.

    I thru hiked solo in 2012 at age 72 and for three years I held the record for being the oldest female to thru hike the AT. An experienced hiker and backpacker the AT was one highlight of my life although I have enjoyed many adventures thru the years. I met so many wonderful people along the way and developed so many lifelong friends thru hiking. Hikers are an amazing group and have become my family. Happy trails Man. Love to you!!

  • Dave Andrews : Oct 4th

    Dear Witch Doctor,
    Thanks so much for sharing this journey. It’s been a blast to follow along with you on your adventures. Congratulations, and I wish you the very best in all your future endeavors!


  • thetentman : Oct 4th

    Thx for the pics.
    Good luck with the rest of your life.
    And thanks for taking the time and energy to write these very informative and fun posts.
    I hope you had fun. We did.


  • Gary : Oct 4th

    Congratulations! I am so glad to see you complete your journey. It has been such a joy following along with you. I wish you all the best in the next chapter of your life.

  • Jessica : Oct 4th

    I have followed from the beginning because I am friends with Green Mountain Girl who flip-flopped so you may not have met. Your posts were engaging and honest. I’m happy for you but I’ll miss your blogs a bunch. Peace, jc

  • Rushmore : Oct 4th

    The responses above have said it all!
    I will look forward to your follow-up posts.
    You’ll find your appetite adapts as you burn fewer calories. Mine went back to normal quickly.
    You’re a remarkable guy, Dr. Derek! Be yourself!

  • Tom : Oct 4th

    Thanks for letting me tagalong on your fantastic 5 month”walk”. Always great pics and humorous stories . Good luck Witch Doctor.

  • john verduin : Oct 4th

    I once asked a though-hiker what it was like when he came off the trail. He said “I don’t think I ever came off the trail”.

  • Alexandra : Oct 4th

    CONGRATULATIONS! After morning prayers (and you were in those prayers), I always looked forward to reading about your journey. Ideas for your next journey…Camino de Santiago? Buckeye Trail in great state of OHIO? Wishing you nothing but the best! Thanks for sharing your journey. “Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” St. Teresa of Calcutta:)

  • David Odell : Oct 4th

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

  • CLAUDIA KENT : Oct 4th


  • Ty : Oct 4th

    Witch Doctor…a really thoughtful journal of your trip. I enjoyed reading it every day. Turn it into a book? Just a thought.

  • Christi : Oct 4th

    Congratulations!! Followed you from the beginning. Hope to tackle it one day myself!! Thanks for sharing your journey!!

  • Mike N : Oct 4th

    I have followed your journey since the beginning and have enjoyed your adventures along the way. Thank you for sharing.

  • Bamboo Bob : Oct 4th

    I summited 9/7/2002 , I’m 74. I read this and tear up.

  • Ron : Oct 4th

    Well done and congratulations! Thank you for sharing you journey and showing other docs that is OK to get away from the grind for awhile – hopefully voices like yours help a little in changing our culture!

  • Jules : Oct 4th

    Congratulations, Derek!
    As one of the “silent bystanders” who’s been following along since the beginning, a sincere thank you for allowing so many of us to stow away in your pack. You may not have shed a tear at the summit but I just did.
    You have much to be proud of, not only the incredible miles but keeping up this blog near daily. Your writing is heartfelt and engaging and the composition of your photos is outstanding.
    I’ll miss you Witch Doctor

  • Lish : Oct 4th

    Kudos doc. Seriously a fantastic ride you’ve provided us AT fans. Thanks.

  • Rick : Oct 4th

    Witch Doctor:

    Congratulations on finishing the AT!!! Thanks for taking us along on your journey. I got to experience the AT through your daily stories and amazing photos. Good luck doing whatever or wherever your future takes you.

    Thank, Rick

  • Suzie Fry : Oct 4th

    Congratulations Doc !!! You have made an accomplishment not many can say they’ve done. I have followed your journey from Georgia an have loved every minute of reading an cheering you on !!! Wishing you the best 😃

  • Darrell Barrett : Oct 4th

    CONGRATULATIONS!!! And thanks for sharing your epic journey. You’re a wonderful writer and your uplifting and positive attitude has been a great inspiration to me! Best of luck in the future and praying that your post hike depression isn’t too bad, (it’s real)! I’m a Marine, Trail Angel, and have done multiple thru hikes around the world and have my Doctorate in counseling. So, email me if I can ever help in any way!

  • Smitty : Oct 4th

    Well done, one of the best

  • Papjack : Oct 4th

    Thanks, Derek. I’ve followed you from Springer, and have enjoyed the ride. Best wishes for the future.

  • jen l : Oct 4th

    Well now, that’s a rap. Whatever will I read now? Congrats! 🫡

  • Jean : Oct 4th

    Have enjoyed stowing away and even pondering doing my own thru hike one day. Thanks for the inspiration. I’m sad it’s over!

  • Kevin S : Oct 4th

    CONGRATULATIONS! It’s been quite amazing to follow your journey since before day 1 on the trail.

  • Richard Glasgow : Oct 4th

    Witch Dictor,
    Thank your for sharing your worda time and journey of a liftetime. I am really really really happy you Finished SUCCESFULLY. I look forwarx to.the gear reviews as well as reading about your reajustment baxk to NORMAL LIFE!!!

  • Jim Henderson : Oct 4th

    First off, congratulations on your genuine accomplishment! And second, I’m kind of sorry it’s over for you because I looked forward to all your posts and now I don’t have them to look forward to. I hope the rest of your life is splendid!

  • hairgypsy : Oct 5th

    What a journey! Happy for you and very proud of you! Thank you for sharing the wild ride!
    All the best to you!

  • SlowRoll : Oct 5th

    Congratulations Witch Doctor! I discovered your blog when you were about halfway in and spent a couple nights catching up. I really loved your humor and writing style – sometimes humorous, sometimes introspective but always real! I even caught a few of your segments in the podcasts. Nice work and I am so glad you took the time to blog and narrate your incredible adventure. Can’t wait to read about your journey home and post trail thoughts.

  • Leslie Turner : Oct 5th

    Wooo-hoooo!!!! You did the damn thing!!!
    Thank you for the pictures, satire, and most of all giving this city girl from Baton Rouge the opportunity to live vicariously through you!!! I enjoyed every post and loved seeing all of the random hearts that you discovered along the trail! Enjoy acclimating back to your “Pre-AT” life!

  • Harry Poppins : Oct 5th

    One day this doc will get to thru hike to Maine. Gratz and remember, never diagnose yourself, particularly from the DSM. Whenever I look through it I have ALL the diagnoses.

  • Rooster : Oct 5th

    Hi Witch Doctor,

    I found this website just several weeks ago, but have been reading your posts every morning on the way to work. You are a fantastic writer: funny, enlightening, engaging, and educational. Congrats!

    One thing you said in today’s post was so on the money: it’s all about the journey. I remember one of the worst nights of my life. Driving across Nicaragua solo, pitch black, in a frightening thunderstorm. It was election day there and seemingly everyone in the country was intoxicated. The potholes in the road were treacherous and I ended up getting three flat tires, each massive pothole denting the rims on an ’84 VW Golf. I had to hammer them back into being “round” on the side of the road. Even the usually friendly truck drivers wouldn’t stop to lend a hand. I finally made it to a one- intersection town and checked into a motel that rented rooms by the half hour. It was the scariest night of my life and I was completely miserable. But the story of that night is one I’ll never forget and was a grand adventure. (And certainly not comparable to walking from Georgia to Maine!)

    Vaya Con Dios!

  • Lynn : Oct 9th

    Congratulations! And thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, photos, and experiences. I have been grateful to follow you most of your journey.

  • LM : Oct 9th

    I followed you from the beginning and always looked forward to your posts. Thanks so much for sharing your hike. And YAY YOU!!!

  • Sarah : Oct 10th

    I don’t even know how I stumbled onto The Trek or how I found you in particular, but I have enjoyed your updates! Thank you for bringing us all along in your pack on your journey and I wish you the best in all your future endeavors!

  • Flash : Oct 10th

    I’m hoping that there’s a book in your future, because your writing is just that good. I’m a longtime reader and I have really enjoyed “stowing away in your pack “on this epic journey. I can’t imagine writing while perpetually in a state of exhaustion and hiker hunger, not to mention being cold/hot/wet/smelly/bug bitten, etc. But, you did it and did it extremely well. Thank you for allowing me vicariously learn from your hike. It’s been a privilege to read your blog all of these past months.

    Question: I hope that you address, in a future blog post ,how your body has changed and been challenged not only on the trail but also in your post-trail life. Does an AT thru-hiker ever really recover from this type of extended effort?

    Best wishes, Witch Doctor, and please write that book!

  • Mary Olien : Oct 10th

    Congratulations! Now your pack will be lighter after all of us stowaways finally crawl out. Each year one or two Trek bloggers stand out for their engaging ability to write and keep me engaged the entire trek. Thank you! Mary

  • CB : Oct 13th

    Dude! Where’s your official Trek picture in the Congratulations? I saw Purple Pioneer. What gives? Don’t tell me this has all been AI generated and you never really left the matrix. The story will still be part of me, but won’t be the same. Dish!

  • PSC : Oct 14th

    Somehow Google suggested one of your posts, and I’ve spent the last few days binging your entire trek. Loved your engaging writing (and am a ljttle disappointed theres no more!). Congratulations on completing this huge endeavor, and thank you for sharing your adventures.

  • Jeff Greene : Oct 15th

    Congratulations! I’m a day hiker and occasional weekend backpacker who will never even do a lengthy section hike, but love living vicariously through others, and this year decided to follow a number of PCT and AT hikers, and your blog has been a pleasure from beginning to end. You commentary and photos have been awesome, and I appreciate very much the time and effort you put into letting us stow away with you for six months!

  • Remmie : Oct 17th

    What a pkeasure it has been stowing away in your pack since Georgia. Happy for you.

  • Michael O'Tuel : Oct 18th

    Witch Doctor,thanks for sharing your journey and congratulations on submitting the Big K! I hope you can get some blood work done ie cholesterol level, Test level, some physiological testing ie body fat composition, V20 capacity. You lost at least 10 yrs on your real age and a lot of body fat. You may have like 9 or 10 percent. Thru Hiking is perfect to burn fat and works great w body building. You had an insightful trip and I hope you do the Triple Crown. Hiking the trail was very important to o you especially to take off in middle of career,but you did it when still close to o peak condition. Excellent photography throughout your narrative, some pic, especially if carpuscular rays Nat Geo quality. Look forward to following more of your trips. Happy Trails,2 Spirits Mike OTu

  • Beth : Oct 26th

    Congratulations! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading of your travels and thank you for taking me along! Best wishes to you in whatever is in your future! Beth


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