My Last Day On The AT

Just like any other morning, I woke up at 3 am to go to the bathroom. I tossed and turned for a minute and when I fully awoke I realized that today was the day. I felt the excitement right away and started moving. It was all muscle memory, packing my quilts, taking down my hammock, putting everything in its place for the last time. My bag was packed and I scanned the ground to make sure I left nothing behind, everything on my back. I did that morning what I do best, I hiked.

My morning started with a headlamp and brisk walking, Katahdin looming in front of me. Day broke as I began the rock scramble. I could hear nothing but my breath and the sound of my shoes as they gripped the boulders. I climbed higher and higher until I got my first views. The peaks around Katahdin soaked up the early morning light. The lakes and ponds that I walked by in the 100 mile wilderness speckled the land. I smiled.

Climbing Katahdin was the most fun I’ve had on the whole trail. I was alone in the solitude of the morning as I climbed up a steep exposed scramble. The air was still. I topped out of the steep climb and reached the table lands, 1.5 miles of trail laid between me and the now visible sign at the top of Katahdin. Tears welled in my eyes. I thought about every day I dreamed of this moment. I thought about the 136 days the brought me from the first blaze on Springer mountain to the spot I stood. My legs felt nothing. The battering they took walking from Georgia to Maine seemed to go numb. I moved over the rocks and the closer I got to the top the more I slowed. As much as I dreamed of reaching the top, I didn’t want it to end. Still, that same force that kept me moving on my toughest days was there pushing my forward.

The last 100 feet, I saw the last white blazes lead up to the sign. I could see the scars of harsh weather on the wooden sign. I was overcome by my emotions and thought back to that day at Amicalola Falls. The sign says 2192 miles to Katahdin. I did it. I stood on the summit alone, climbed the sign and looked south. I looked knowing I’d never see Georgia but I could feel it in the distance. If there are words for what I felt in that moment, I don’t know what they are.

I thru hiked the AT and I did it my way. My heart goes out to everyone who helped me along my journey, from my parents and family to every random stranger who assisted me in some way. This trip was the fullest and deepest of my life. It will be with me for a long as I live.

Thank you for following along,

-Aquaman

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Comments 3

  • Avatar
    Dr. David Galloway : Jul 28th

    Congratulations! An amazing achievement that will mark your life. I pray that your memories of this trek will fuel your continuing journey. Blessings.
    I have a cabin near Amicalola and the Springer start. So happy for you completing your sojourn.
    David

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Warren Doyle : Jul 28th

    Well-felt and written. Cherish and sustain the gift the trail has given you.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Michael Castanza : Jul 28th

    I’m laying here recovering from surgery at Roswell Park Cancer Institute on my spleen and pancreas. I can’t enjoy much -it’s a river of misery but I loved this .Your blessed with those memories forever. I walked 250 miles of those footsteps in Maine. I hope you were more graceful getting through the Mahoosic Notch than I was ! Congrats and God bless !

    Reply

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