Week 23: I Did It!!

After 2189.1 miles, 14 states, and 160 days, I did it! On August 25 (also the 100th birthday of the National Park Services), I summited the Big Kahuna, Katahdin, and partook in my much awaited photo shoot. Now sitting in the real world where you can take 3 showers in 3 days and don’t have to build your home every night, it seems like a dream. Yesterday felt like a zero, that I would be back to my walking life shortly. Today the reality of the situation is more real. I won’t be heading back to the trail tomorrow, or in a few days, or even in a few weeks. I’m done.

My last week on the trail was bittersweet. As I alluded to in my last post, I learned while in Monson that my rowing coach and a man I greatly admired had passed. In each great period of your life, I think you have a person or two who have a tremendous impact. Jeremy was that person for me while at KU. It was through rowing that I realized that I am capable of far more than I give myself credit for and really led to believing that I was capable of completing a 2,000 mile hike. Jeremy served as proof that you can have it all. You don’t need to settle. We used to joke that he was Peter Pan, never really growing up. But he had a non-traditional job he loved, a super hot wife he adored, the car he always wanted, great friends. It seemed that he had everything that he always wanted. For me, I felt that if he could make it happen, so could I. I didn’t need to settle for less either. He was one of the first people I told that I wanted to hike the whole AT. He responded that was badass and he didn’t doubt that I would finish it. He didn’t bullshit. When I summited Katahdin, I wanted to share that I had actually done it with 1.) my mother and then 2.) Jeremy.


Jeremy and me at the American Collegiate Rowing Association National Regatta in 2015

So what should have been one of the most exciting weeks on the trail was tinged with grief. Leaving Monson with what seemed like the heaviest pack ever (aka 6 days of food), I lost my friends. That first night I set up my tent alone near some ledges, and eating my dinner I watched the sun set among the mountains thinking about what Jeremy met to me along with the reality that my hike was reaching its closure.

A greater portion of the 100 Mile Wilderness was spent hiking alone. I was 2-4 miles behind my friends. I could have pushed and caught up, but it was nice spending time by myself in the wilderness. When else am I ever going to be able to eat dinner next to a secluded mountain pond? However I do wonder if I missed out on valuable time with my hiking friends by doing so.


Entering the 100 Mile Wilderness. Guess I didn’t read the sign well enough because I only have 5.5 days of supplies.


One of many lakes or ponds. Pretty sure Maine ponds are Missouri lakes. They make sure the water is clear so you can see the leeches.


Good thing I have the Royals to take care of my booboos.


First glimpse of Katahdin… Or a mountain that I thought might be Katahdin. There were lots of mountains. However I allowed myself to be excited about this potentially fake Katahdin


I think this was a real lake, not just a pond.


Snarff enjoyed his first glimpse of Katahdin too


Hiking, you miss the scenery. Sometimes you have to stop and just enjoy it for a while.


The last supper. A box of Parmesan Pasta-roni with a pack of Ramen noodles, and Blue Sharks for dessert.


The less hard part of the hike up to Baxter Peak and The Sign

Exiting the 100 Mile Wilderness, I finally caught up to my friends at Abol Campground. Entering Baxter State Park, where Katahdin is, seemed unnecessarily complicated. However, that’s a story for another time. Or a complaint for another time.

Summiting Katahdin was both epic and anti-climatic. It’s a hard hike to the top. If I had had my pack I might argue that it’s one of the hardest hikes on the AT. The 5.1 miles took me 3 hours up and 3.5 hours down. However after 2,200 miles I still dont know how to effectively hike on rocks. In order to beat the crowds of day hikers we woke at 4:30. Reaching the summit, I was hangry and mad about something (probably lack of sleep and rocks) so I pouted for about 5 min. Sometimes I’m probably insufferable.  I’d hiked 160 days to get this summit and chose to be pissy. But whatever…

After celebrating the moment, you turn and walk back down the mountain. There aren’t the fans cheering for you and it doesn’t feel like a satisfying conclusion. Of the many day hikers, many don’t even realize Katahdin is the Northern terminus of the AT. You hitch a ride into Millenocket to celebrate your big moment, which is small, and the next day everyone goes their separate ways. There are no medals or cheering squads. It feels like a regular tough hiking day. Except it isn’t. Even several days out, it doesn’t feel like I’m truly done. Perhaps in a few weeks it will really seem like it. But now for celebratory photos.


The traditional “Yaaaass I did it pose”


After 2198.1 miles, does that mean all of this is mine? I mean Odie said this was my kingdom.


So excited


Like so excited


This hike brought to you by Fireball


Girls rule, boys drool!


The 8 of us did it! (Left to right: Verge, Sweets, Jingle, Mountain Goat, Princess Peach, yours truly, and Legs. Center: Goat)


This Raven thought to celebrate too

So what have I taken away from the trail?

I expect the impact to solidify more in the following weeks. It doesn’t seem real that I’m done. But I am more confident in my abilities. I can roll with the punches with the best of them. However, that doesn’t mean I’ll like it. I know I can hike 2,200 miles which was the big question. I’m also more comfortable with how I look minus makeup. Before I’d worry about the dark circles under my eyes or bad hair. But who cares?

Now what?

I’m planning on lounging at the Grevort until Sept 4. A pedi is definitely in the cards. I have my thesis to finish and jobs to apply for. I plan on running full throttle towards whatever is next. I’m not exactly sure what that will be, but I’m afraid if I stop life will be too hard. Currently I miss my trail friends and my See Food diet. Will I do another long distance hike? We’ll see after I’ve forgotten all the bad parts about this one.

Flying home in style. Thanks Dougie G!

Flying home in style. Thanks Dougie G!

I would like to thank everyone who put me in their prayers, sent me a supportive note, mailed me a care package, read this blog, opened up their home to this smelly hiker. I’m surprised the number of people who my hike has touched. It’s truly taken a village to get me from GA to ME. I’m not completely out yet, (aka done blogging) but I think I need time to process what the hike has meant. In the meantime the Grevort pool and drinks are calling.

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Comments 21

  • Glenna Fleeman : Aug 27th

    Congratulations on this huge accomplishment!

  • Denise McDaniel Robinson : Aug 28th

    Awesome job! What an amazing accomplishment! I truly believe you can do anything you set your mind to! Thanks for sharing your adventure with all of us!

  • Kitty Taylorenjoy this victory as I'm sure it's one of many you Kitty Taylorhave already celebrated and will continue to do so. : Aug 28th

    What an accomplishment- I never once even gave it a thought that you wouldn’t complete your journey. You are a very strong person and I’m sure you will be out there doing something special rest of your life. enjoy this victory as I’m sure it’s one of many you have already celebrated and will continue to do so.

  • Joe buchanan : Aug 28th

    Molly -,Great work on the trail and in the blog!
    As a former college jock, a lawyer, college administrator and successful national politician now 76, I can testify that being on the summit is often not nearly as fun or rewarding as getting to the summit ! Enjoy the view from up top but treasure the grit and hard work it took to get there ! That’s the real lesson of the AT !
    Joe Buchanan

  • David Odell : Aug 28th

    Congratulations on finishing your AT hike. Enjoyed your excellent journal. David Odell AT71 PCT72 CDT77

  • John : Aug 28th


  • chris oberholtzer : Aug 28th

    Congrats Molly! It will sink in later, takes a while to realize what you’ve done. It was a major accomplishment. I know Elisha and I thank her for sharing your story, you’ve had fans all over the globe thanks to her. Kudos, you done good. What an amazing trip you will carry with you the rest of your life. Unlike your pack which I’m sure you’ll be glad to dump into the closet.

  • Sherrie Hanson : Aug 28th

    Molly you are awesome. Best of luck making your way back into the crazy world.

  • Beth Spencer : Aug 28th

    Congratulations Molly! What an accomplishment! I enjoyed reading about your journey!

  • Chris Catt : Aug 28th

    Molly, how awesome that you set a huge bad-ass goal and went about completing it over the course of many, many weeks of cold days, hot days, wet days, sore days, etc. how many unforgettable memories did you make with people that you rubbed hiking poles with on the AT? When you summit tee that last peak, you created one of those watershed moments in life that only come through hard work, grit, passion, determination and pursuit of a big, big dream. Good for you Molly!!!

  • Will gaines : Aug 28th

    Molly, congratulations on reaching the final goal. Your blog was awesome and thank you for sharing all the highs and lows of hiking the AT. I look forward to your relections as you reenter your next phase ! As someone said in earlier post the joy may be more in the adventure versus the destination. Keep your spirit alive and good luck in whatever lies ahead. Thanks again for sharing.
    Will Gaines – Charlotte, NC

  • Shane Swenson : Aug 29th

    Great Job Molly!

    The memories, good and bad, are something that no one can take from you. If you use that mental toughness and everything you learned on the trail in your day to day life going forward, their will not be a challenge that you won’t be able to overcome. Keep up the great blog, we would really enjoy seeing how your story continues. As they say 1 trail down, 2 to go- Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide Trail. 🙂 You Got This! – Watertown, South Dakota

  • Robert Sutherland : Aug 29th


  • Sprout : Aug 29th

    Congrats Molly!

  • Scott Cunningham : Aug 29th

    Congrats on your accomplishment! I enjoyed following your journey and hope the memories will be useful in your life as you continue on your journey.

  • Kelley : Aug 29th


  • Girl Gone MAD : Aug 29th

    I would suggest you become a writer. You are very entertaining to read. I think a book of your adventures. Keep at it You’re an inspiration for all young people. Congratulations for conquering your quest.

  • Margie : Aug 29th

    Congratulations! I so enjoyed your blog, your writing is so fun to read!. You have much to be proud of

  • Eddy Grunenwald : Aug 30th

    Congratulations, Molly! It has been fun reading your posts and following your progress. God bless.

  • Mark Carreno : Aug 30th

    Congratulations Molly! It’s been great reading about your journey. Good luck with your future endeavor’s.

  • Kristina Baxter : Sep 1st

    Congratulations Molly!! I heard about your journey a few weeks before you left, from your mother one day while I was shopping! I looked you up and have been excited for your progress post by post and of course cheering you on with good thoughts and lots of prayers!! I am so happy that you completed this adventure happy and healthy, and so very thankful you shared it with us!! Again Congrats and good luck in your future!!


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