The Finale

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.

Post-Trail Life

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.

In our new home of Muskegon (still rocking some AT gear).

With Gratitude

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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Comments 13

  • Mom : Jan 1st

    Love you both and so proud of what you have accomplished. I never doubted you would finish what you had started last April. Congratulations again and THANKS for finally finishing the Blog 😀
    Looking forward to hearing about your Adventure plans for 2022.
    Happy New Year!
    Mom

    Reply
  • Kevin Winningham : Jan 1st

    Thank you for the ‘wrap up!’ You two crazy kids are amazing and a true inspiration in so many ways! Thank you again for allowing us to experience this journey as if we were waking beside you! You are an unbelievable writer that captivates your audience! We wish you God’s best as you ‘return to reality’ and turn the chapter to 2022! We look forward to following you during your next adventure! Happy New Year!!!!!

    Reply
  • Mike mullen : Jan 2nd

    We met nick and Kara on the trail ( trail angels ). We were hoping to see how your journey finished up ,tried to follow ,but lost ya .BE PROUD ya did something pretty. Amazing !,,,,,,,,,,,,,HAPPY TRAILS…….Mike & Dianne

    Reply
  • TaffyUK : Jan 2nd

    Better late than never, hahaha.

    Glad you made it all the way.

    Reply
  • Suzanne Riley - Aunt Lori’s MSU friend in Manistee : Jan 2nd

    Congratulations, Kara and Nick!!! So happy to see your smiling, shaven faces!! What a super-cool accomplishment you have completed and you should be so very proud. You’re a huge inspiration too. Thank you. Please know that if you get the urge again, the North Country Trail is not too far from your new location. Hope to see you out on that trail soon. Happy New Year and welcome home!!

    Reply
  • Russ Hobgood (Russ 1663) : Jan 2nd

    Loved the wrap up. What a fantastic unique way to honeymoon. You have set your life stage by going through real personality tests and tough physical stress. Well done. Kara and Nick. Well done. Thanks for the inspiration

    Reply
  • Chris : Jan 2nd

    Congrats!!! It was great following you two. Very glad you made it to Mt Katahdin. Hope to do the same this year. Take care and hope your adventures continue.
    Chris

    Reply
  • Paul & Bonnie Hayward : Jan 2nd

    What a wonderful beginning to your marriage and such a great story. Kata and Nick stayed with us at our B&B early on their hike in Georgia. We were pleased to have been a part of their journey.
    Paul & Bonnie Hayward
    Your Home in the Woods B&B

    Reply
  • Kim : Jan 3rd

    I’ve loved following your journey. Congrats!
    We celebrated our 1st anniversary with an AT section hike. In 2028 my husband and I hope to celebrate his retirement by thru hiking the AT. At least one of our 6 kids will join us, hopefully 2 more will too. God bless you! Kim

    Reply
  • Suk & Natalie : Jan 3rd

    Congratulations Kara & Nick!

    What an awesome adventure & start to your lives together,
    Just Wow!

    Reply
  • Billie & Darryl Pomarzynski (Aunt Lo's friends from Texas-Indian River & now Cheboygan, MI) : Jan 3rd

    Nick & Kara, we have so enjoyed following your journey. We were rooting from you from all over! Your words “we were always a team” is the way marriage should be. Hold on to your beautiful memories and teamwork foundation. Wishing you happiness in your new place and a wonderful life ahead!

    Reply
  • Manfred Heck : Jan 3rd

    Loved the open, honest, vulnerable, and heartfelt ‘conclusion’! A great accomplishment!!! But another example of ‘the journey being more important than the destination’!

    Reply
  • Reindeer : Jan 3rd

    Thanks for a wonderful conclusion to your epic journey. What a great way to start your lives together.
    Enjoy all you do!

    Reply

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