I’m embarrassed by how long this took me to write, but I resolved for this new year to finish this dang blog and give you some closure, so here we go.
The End of the Trail
For those of you who don’t know us in real life (or follow my mom on Facebook), we did in fact finish the entire Appalachian Trail. On Saturday, September 18, 2021, we summited Mt. Katahdin and officially had walked 2193.1 miles in a consecutive line. As expected, the finish line was full of excitement, laughter, disbelief, and grief that such an incredible journey had actually come to an end.
Our time in Maine was full of (literal) ups and downs. Both Jet Pack and I have agreed that Maine was our favorite state on the trail. Some highlights were seeing two moose, hitchhiking in a side-by-side ATV, staying in some incredible hostels, and of course, the 100-mile wilderness. The untouched, rugged scenery of Maine is breathtaking and we lingered on some viewpoints a little longer than we usually did, trying to soak it all in.
The Raw and Honest Truth
I’ll be honest, the last quarter of the trail was hard for me. The White Mountains in New Hampshire left me bruised and anxious with the steep, rocky climbs. Our daily mileage plummeted from 16ish miles to barely logging double digits. When we got to Maine and the tough terrain continued on, I cried my eyes out on a riverbank to Jet Pack.
“We walked to Maine like we said we would,” I sobbed. “I just want to go home.” Jet Pack nodded, rinsed my muddy shoes in the river for me, and quietly put his arm around me while I calmed down. Then we walked back to our campsite, made dinner, and did it all again the next day. And the next. And we persevered all the way to the finish line.
There are not enough words to describe the gratitude that I have for my husband. I loved him on the day that we started walking from Amicalola Falls State Park, but hiking the entire AT together has created a bond between us that I will cherish for the rest of my days. We have been through bugs, rocks, mud, heat, cold, rain, hiker hunger, injuries, exhaustion, and beyond together.
I’m so proud that we never gave up and never took the easy way out, and that is the foundation that we started building our marriage on. We were not always our best selves on the AT, but we were always a team. Many people told us we were nuts for starting our marriage on the trail, but given the choice, I would do it all again.
We spent a few days in Maine with my mom and our trail family before flying back to Michigan. Jet Pack got a haircut and shaved his beard. We then spent a few weeks in St. Croix (US Virgin Islands) while he helped his family renovate a condo and I started my job hunt. We both have started new jobs and relocated to Muskegon, Michigan to be closer to Lake Michigan and all of the outdoor adventures it brings.
Re-acclimating to “normal life” has been both easier and harder than we thought it would be. I love my new job, showering every day, and not having to consider a food’s weight before buying it. I greatly miss the simplicity and freedom of living out of a tent, being able to eat a family-sized bag of peanut butter M&Ms in a sitting, and waking up to birds singing every morning.
We are so honored and humbled by how many of you took an interest in our journey. Although we were not always the best bloggers, we did have so much fun sharing our adventure with all of you. Thank you for the prayers, love, and encouragement you shared with us over the last several months. We hope we have encouraged you to get outside on your own adventure, wherever that may take you.
See you on down the trail,
Jet Pack & Pepper
(Nick & Kara Saur)
P.S. – We do have an Instagram where we share both AT photos and current adventures, so check us out @the.saurs.outdoors to stay in touch!
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