The Glory goes to Him
Why did this hike consume the past 12 months of my life?
October of 2021, I started visualizing hiking the AT. Studying the map became part of my morning routine. I would wake up super early and with sleepy eyes think about one thing, which was the Appalachain Trail. Obsessed with looking at the terrain, I studied the elevation gains and loses. All the while an abundance of different scenarios would bounce around in my head. Occasionally, fear would momentarily cloud my thoughts such as; Cold, storms, pain, becoming lost, hunger and loneliness. I would sit on my comfy couch, take a sip of coffee, and continue looking at the map. Once on the trail, my assumption was that I would experience at least one of these scenarios, if not all.
Now I Know so Much More
I thought I was ready to tackle anything that the trail threw at me. Studying, reading and surmising what it was going to entail was one thing, now I know the trail dishes out much, much more.
This beast was grueling, yet so addicting! On trail, day after day, I would ask my quads, knees, feet and back to carry me and my 37 pound backpack. Mile after mile, I knew I had to keep moving. Occasionally, such as “Every day” my pain tolerance was maxed. It was then I would pray for Christ to give me His strength. Now I know so much more, “Our God” will carry our loads, if we ask!
Katahdin, the summit I longed to see for 5 months was now in my view. I had climbed Katahdin several times in the past, in fact “19” to be exact. The trails that I had completed always ended with a beautiful summit.
I knew the homestretch was going to be an all day event. The goal was to beat nightfall. I have learned night hiking is for everyone else, not me! I wanted to be able to see the last blaze without my headlamp.
We started our climb at 6:00 AM, August 25th. The nature of the AT is that ya never know who is behind or who is in front on the trail. This makes it very hard to know where the “Tramily”(trail family) is. I was hopeful to see some familiar faces and do a final celebration at the peak with family and tramily.
This day was to complete the 2194 mile hike. With this, I tried to prepare that it was going to be filled with an abundance of “Unexplainable emotions.” I was thankful that I would be able to release my anxiousness by hiking all day.
As the morning of the summit unfolded, my family (hubby, son, daughter and son-law) gathered snacks, water and warm clothes. We then drove on the Golden Rd, which was beautifully engulfed with spruce trees. The car had an obvious smell of delicious coffee and perhaps a stinky hiker. We were excited to get this show on the road!
The AT follows the Hunt Trail. I knew it would be a challenging and a technical climb. The trail is 5.2 miles, one way and has an elevation gain of 4188 feet. It is extremely steep so I did as I had done for the past 5 months. I hoisted my pack to my back, did my final adjustments and started praying. As we fell into our hiking rhythm, the talking and laughing began as we enjoyed the breath taking views.
As the final approach continued to get closer, I found myself wanting to speed up. In fact, at one point I lost my balance and fell over backwards. I seriously had to laugh even though it really hurt. I thought to myself, “Less than a half of a mile and I decide to fall over.” Go Figure! I picked myself up, though my daughter felt an immediate urge to announce to everyone that I decided to fall over.
As I touched the familiar sign that signifies the peak, the walls, I should say “My walls” came crumbling down. Hugs, laughter, disbelief and unexpected treats flourished the peak. We drank chocolate milk, ate Oreo cookies, cheese and fudge (thank you family for carrying this to the top for all of us).
Watching my “Family” and “Tramily” laugh while doing “The Hiker hobble” (known to all thru-hikers as the walk that signifies “walking in pain”) together was a perfect way to summit! It was as though we had known each other for ever. Packs and hikers were sprawled everywhere as we enjoyed each other’s stories.
Is it Really Complete?
As I returned to the car I recognized I was too tired to even be joyful that I was going home, though not until the next day.
My first destination was Big Moose Cabin. Here, there was a cabin waiting for me with actual beds, chairs, and a hot shower. It didn’t make sense in my mind that I would be sleeping in a real bed for many days to come. I thought to myself, “Now that’s a concept!”
At the cabin, I saw my “MOM”, sister, niece, and many close friends. At this point, things started to feel complete. Maybe I really was done!
They had taken time out of their busy schedules to make this moment even more special. I dare say I will never forget the hug from my Mom. Her hug spoke a million words!
Life Back Home
I knew that in the morning I would be leaving. Basically, this chapter would be complete. The experiences, the people, the prayers, the hunger, the pain, the sunsets, the storms, and the list goes on would be a constant memory.
As I jumped into the jeep with my hubby the drive to “The County” was comfy. I was finally moving North without exerting any energy, I just sat there. I felt as though my aching body was wondering what was going on. Perhaps it would soon understand that it was time to heal and rest.
I will start a new chapter, “Life back home.” Taking it step by step will be my philosophy, after all that is what worked while I was on the trail.
This journey would not have been completed without my family and friends. They encouraged me when I was broken, and prayed for me daily. For this, He gets all the glory! I believe He answered every prayer and never left my side!
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Great concluding message to your journey of a lifetime. I hope it is out of your system now and the AT is a one and done adventure. I know your story is not over. You continue to keep step with your Savior and Friend, Jesus, by your side. Keep walkin’ and keep talkin’ about Him. ?
I enjoyed following your journey here. Thank you for blogging! So educational and inspirational! I’ve been so excited for you to complete your goal and I read all your posts, sometimes more than once and shared them with others. Congrats! ❤️ from Maryland
LL (how I’d refer to you when I’d see a new post on The Trek), huge congrats for a huge accomplishment! All praise to Him who knows where & how we each walk every step of the way. While your AT journey is now complete, I hope the Trail never leaves you & you never leave the Trail. All the memories & all the lessons learned will be forever with you.
Thanks for sharing your trek!
Congratulations! I enjoyed following your physical journey and your spiritual journey with Him as well.
Chappy Jack 2019
I am a retired pastor who has always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail. Instead, I read about others who are hiking it. I followed your journal from the beginning. It has been a great encouragement. I have stopped numerous times to praise God for the wonderful things you have said about Him. May God continue to be with you and bless you in all you do. if you do any more writing about this or other ventures, I would love to know about them and read them. Thanks for a very uplifting time. Jerry
Thank you for letting me “follow” your journey! You’re informative, educational and entertaining. Congratulations on completing your Trek!
Thanks for you Testimony, openness and Faith.
Congratulations on completing your journey. I enjoyed following along! Thanks for an uplifting testimony of faith!