I’ve hesitated in writing this post for two reasons. 1) I’m too lazy and have enjoyed down-time. 2) If I write it, it’s real. It’s over. Adventure complete.
We summited Mt. Katahdin on 8/20/16 at 9:00am. Our five month journey came to a close. It was a surreal moment. We took it easy the two days prior to Katahdin due to Maranda’s case of Lyme Disease, and because we wanted to soak in the last 72 hours of this incredible journey. We were both excited and hesitant to reach the end.
Baxter State Park is a majestic experience, at least it was for us. We dreamed of that mountain for months. As we set up camp at Abol, it was as if we could sense it’s presence around us. It was all we and our fellow thru hikers could talk about, and I found myself stealing away to Abol Bridge just to get glances of Big Mama-K and her cold, rocky shoulders. We soundly slept beside the Penobscot River. Our hike the next morning to The Birches (the campsite right before Katahdin) was quick and leisurely. We had only 10 miles to do and found ourselves taking our time, enjoying the last day of scenic and un-crowded trail. We forded rivers, rested at empty mountain lakes, and enjoyed a nice, maintained trail. That night we found ourselves with 10 other thru-hikers, around a campfire, laughing and swapping stories of the last five months.
The next morning we woke up at 4:30am to begin the ascent of Mt. Katahdin, the final push. We packed with giddy excitement. We left camp at 5:15 and were able to hike in the pre-dawn glow without headlamps. All was quiet. The day-hikers hadn’t stirred yet, and we were able to make the 5 mile, 4,000′ climb in 3 hours. The trail graduated from easy “Pedestrian Miles” to boulder scrambling and using rebar ladders to pull ourselves up the mountain. After the initial climb, the AT levels off to the “Table Lands”, a plateau of loose rock, where you can see where the trail brought you from- but more importantly the ending it took us to. As we walked along the final mile of the trail, we inched ever closer to the final 100′ climb to the sign. A quarter mile out, we heard the triumphant yells of Stryder, Easy-E and Flipper. We crested over the final ridge to the applause of the three aforementioned hikers. Our friend Croc summited right behind us.
We didn’t know what to feel or expect after summiting and touching that sign, and the beautiful part was that nobody did. Six thru-hikers sat at the top of Katahdin, alone and unmolested by crowds. We didn’t know each other’s true name, and we sat in silence- it was a beautiful moment. After pictures, snacks, and conversation we all dazedly sauntered down the trail an hour later, passing droves and droves of day hikers making the hike up the mountain. We were dazed and happy.
After being “home” for ten days, we’ve had time to think and reflect on our journey. What a journey it has been. This journey has forced us to confront our fears (we had never camped more than 1 night before), overcome illnesses (Lyme) and injury (IT-band), and grow much closer together as a couple. The trail has given us so much, and taken much away. The post-trail blues are real, but clinging to each other- I’m confident we will ride the waves out.
When we left the Trail, I swore that I was not going to hike again for months. We now find ourselves longing for the mountains. To hike again the familiar trails in North Georgia that cushioned two frightened hikers as they set out on the journey of a lifetime. To sit in the booming silence that only empty mountains can provide. We see the trail as a great equalizer, a microcosm for what life could be like in its simplest and most perfect form. There is no division. We are all the same, walking with one purpose. There are no financial, societal, religious, economical barriers- only the most beautiful collection of people full of life and love.
It’s now our job to carry it’s silent messages throughout the rest of our Grand Adventure.
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.
We are so happy you completed your adventure. Loved reading your blogs.
Helen and Steve Sevierville, TN