Summit Day!

Day 160

We woke up feeling like it was a surreal Christmas morning.  Not only were we excited to reach the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail but we also enjoyed a cup of hot coffee from the comfort of our sleeping bags while watching our final sunrise on trail. Every action we took was either prefaced or followed by the thought “last time”… “rolling up our sleeping bags for the last time” or “our last time using the privy.”

We set out on trail reflecting on where we’ve been, what we’ve seen, and our favorite memories.  Before we knew it we saw a sign stating less than a mile to Springer.  We looked at each other with wide eyes and smiles.  Almost there!  A lot of things had to go right for us to get to this spot.  We didn’t get hurt, sick, etc. The flip flopper Maui said it most accurately back in Maine, “if everything goes right for you and me, we’ll see each other again”.  Everything went right for us and it’s finally our summit day.

Just over 5 months ago, we set off from Mount Katahdin in Maine, and we reached the summit of Springer Mountain in Georgia a little before 10:30AM on December 2nd to find the most beautiful rock on trail with a bronze plaque commemorating the southern terminus.  We passed by the final white blaze and trekked into the history books.  It is a bit surreal to be here.  It’s an incredible accomplishment that didn’t quite set in at the summit.  What does this mean?

A family of thru-hikers (mom, dad and two school aged kids) that we’ve been a few days behind (been seeing their signature in the shelter logbooks) was also there having reached the summit a few minutes earlier and heading back down to the parking lot near the summit. It was remarkable seeing the young kids who were able to complete this journey.

Being “done” is a strange feeling with lots of mixed emotions.  We are looking forward to the comforts of what we’ve been calling “forever town” but we will miss life on trail.  It’s already hitting us hard. We longer need to worry about weather, mice, resupply, etc. We have had thousands of great memories that will never fade. We are so happy we took the time to take the pictures and document as much as we could.

We finished our thru-hike with a mini photoshoot at the summit of Springer.  It was nice to have the summit to ourselves, even if it isn’t the most scenic.  The NOBOs 100% have the best summit when they finish on Katahdin. Their ending (our beginning) is definitely more emotional and physically demanding.

The bitter winds had us moving on from Springer. Our thoughts were all over the place. It’s going to take some time to adjust as we reflect on this monumental achievement.

We continued down the approach trail, 8.8 miles to Amicalola Falls State Park.  To future SOBOs, we strongly encourage you to finish at the falls instead of getting picked up at the Springer Mountain parking lot.  The falls are stunning and give you a few more easy hiking hours on trail to process the end of this epic journey. We passed through the arch but the feeling of accomplishment still hasn’t quite set in.

We walked up to the Amicalola Falls Lodge where we will be staying the night. The lodge is very nice and we recommend staying even if you are just looking for a vacation. The views from the lodge of the surrounding mountains are beautiful. It was strange knowing we’re not sleeping on trail. This isn’t just a night in town, this is the end.

There weren’t many food options for dinner except the AYCE dinner buffet at the lodge…don’t have to twist our arms… We had a great night eating, drinking and reminiscing on the past months. We enjoyed the amazing views from our room and went to sleep in a comfy bed.

We have enjoyed documenting our time on the Appalachian Trail.  We have also been overwhelmed by the support we have received.  Thank you to everyone who contributed in the success of our hike,  whether it was trail magic or simply words of encouragement.  We have appreciated it.  Tomorrow is a new day and we already have some more adventures planned!

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Comments 23

  • Richard Letcher : Dec 9th

    It was so refreshing to follow your trip ☺️ I really appreciated the positive thoughts shared about your journey through nature and how you two experienced it. Some only focus on the woes they are going through. We have enough negativity in our lives and you amazingly 👏 focused on the positives. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful experiences with us

    Reply
    • Eric and Hayley : Dec 9th

      Thank you so much Richard! We definitely tried to focus on the postive even when we were having tough days! We are glad the positivity came through so strongly in our posts! Thank you for following us!

      Reply
    • ELS : Dec 9th

      Congratulations! I have followed your trip looking forward to each new post. It was especially nice that it was in real time. I could check the weather and then find out how it was for you on trail with a hurricane, heat, cold, etc. Your photos and descriptions were excellent. Good luck in all your next adventures.

      Reply
  • Leslie Gerein : Dec 9th

    Yay for shared adventure! 👏 It takes a great couple to take on something of this magnitude together – and be able to enjoy it together. This experience will serve you well as you move forward in life! Congrats and big Smelly Hiker Hugs to you. XO- Tour Guide,, Banff, Canada

    Reply
    • Eric and Hayley : Dec 9th

      Thank you so much Leslie! Yes, we are so fortunate to have each other! We are excited for our new adventures with all the lessons we have learned on this journey. We appreciate your support and the smelly hiker hugs!!

      Reply
  • Ruth Anne Collins : Dec 9th

    So happy to have been able to follow your trek! You guys rock! Best wishes for future adventures!

    Reply
    • Eric and Hayley : Dec 9th

      Thank you so much Ruth! We are glad you enjoyed our adventures! We appreciate your support!

      Reply
  • Cynthia Rosen : Dec 9th

    I’ve been following your adventure from the beginning, what a ride it’s been! You’ve showed such positive energy and attitudes, and it seems you really balance each other as a couple. Thank you for letting us follow along. I’m going to miss your posts. All the best to you as you adjust to life off the trail.

    Reply
  • David Firari : Dec 9th

    Been following since you posted your gearlist! So happy for the both of you and congratulations on this major milestone!

    Reply
  • Pat Tucker : Dec 9th

    Congrats to you both! I will miss reading your posts, as they were fun and very informative. Best of luck in your future adventures!

    Reply
  • ELS : Dec 9th

    Congratulations! I have followed your trip looking forward to each new post. It was especially nice that it was in real time. I could check the weather and then find out how it was for you on trail with a hurricane, heat, cold, etc. Your photos and descriptions were excellent. Good luck in all your next adventures.

    Reply
  • Mary Olien : Dec 9th

    Congratulations! I’ve truly enjoyed your blog! All the best planning your next adventure!!

    Reply
  • joann riese : Dec 10th

    WOW ! As we realise it is not the destination it’s the journey. I was smiling with you every step of the way.

    Reply
  • Pinball : Dec 10th

    Your posts will be missed. Always enjoyed. Was fun to guess which one of you was doing the writing.
    Thanks for sharing. I think you’ll be overjoyed in several years at your efforts to record this adventure!

    Reply
  • Terry Paynter (AT BIKER) : Dec 10th

    Kudos on finishing your hike and bringing us along for the ride via your great trail stories and pictures.

    The camp chair photo on Springer was the best!

    Looking to complete my section hiking over the next two years with 320 miles south to go and 390 miles North to Katahdin. You have given me even more incentive to finish.

    All the blessings of the season be bestowed upon you both.

    Reply
  • Bluewhale : Dec 10th

    Yours has been my favorite thru hike to follow. I’ve looked forward to your unique perspectives as partners and as such positive people. Clearly the two of you can handle anything as a team. Congratulations on your completion and showing us the joy of the journey. I think you found the best experiences one can have on the AT.

    Reply
  • David Odell : Dec 10th

    Congratulations on finishing your AT hike. Enjoyed your excellent journal. David Odell AT71 PCT72 CDT77. trailjournals.com/daveodell

    Reply
  • Jabez : Dec 10th

    Congrats!! 🥾

    Reply
  • Kurt Oswalt : Dec 11th

    Congratulations!!! Ive so enjoyed reading every one of your posts and following your adventure. Best of wishes to both of you. If you do any more hikes please post them on The Trek. Thanks and best of luck.

    Reply
  • Miranda "Zazz" Turner : Dec 11th

    Congrats on a great finish! Reading your blog entries have helped me stave off my post-trail depression after finishing NOBO in July. You’ll be able to remember forever how strong and capable you felt at the summit of Springer, I hope you’re feeling proud!

    Reply
  • Black eyed Susan : Dec 13th

    Been reading you from the start. I decided somewhere during your journey to do a flip flop so I can end at Springer. So sad to no longer be reading your at thru-hiker journey. But so glad you both successfully completed. Enjoy your next adventure.

    Reply
  • Beth : Dec 14th

    Congratulations! I have greatly enjoyed following your trek and am so happy you made it! Good luck and best wishes for your future endeavors!

    Reply
  • Joni Skogman : Dec 17th

    Congrats! I have not read anything on the trek in forever and thru Instagram ended up reading this post. As I’m reading I’m thinking – what? We summited Springer around 10 am on Dec 2. How did I not meet this couple? Then I realize you mention our family! We finished Dec 2 also then walked down to amicalola, too!! That’s so wild. Two of my boys and myself walked down to amicalola while my husband and other son drove (our middle son had a stress fracture). Anyway, too wild! Congrats on your Thru hike!

    Reply

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