Daily Archives: September 15, 2014

Day 153 – Katahdin Stream Campground to Katahdin, Baxter Peak (mile 2185.3)

We finished our AT adventure today. We summitted the 5268 ft. Baxter Peak of Mount Katahdin this morning at 6:45am. It was a thrilling and unforgettable ride.


The "sign" in the distance


No one else was on the peak at 6:45am so I had to set the phone on a rock, set the 10 second timer, and carefully run over the icy rocks to get this blurry shot




Katahdin selfie!

The emotions were running high. It was a mixture of immense joy, weirdness at being done, relief, a little bit of sadness, but mostly just pure excitement. We got up at 2:45am after not a ton of sleep in the lean-to. We made one last pot of not-so-delicious instant coffee, scarfed down some food, put our headlamps on, and hit the trail. We had 5.2 miles to finish the adventure. We signed in the trail register at 3:18am. The first couple miles were pretty nice and easy terrain, with some rock steps and fairly flat hiking. The next couple miles were a huge mess of boulders and rock scrambles to climb over. They were slow going and we had to be extra careful in the dark morning. We had a little bit of moonlight, but it clouded over as we got higher and higher. It also got colder and colder. We eventually climbed up over the boulder area to the Tablelands, a relatively flat area above treeline about 1.6 miles long that leads to the final summit. This area was windswept and insanely cold. It was like I’d imagine an Arctic Tundra to be like.


Ice crusted sign in the Tablelands

We pushed on as the light began to brighten the sky. Our hopes of catching the sunrise were out, as it was just way too cloudy up there for it, but it didn’t dampen our spirits. We pushed on to Thoreau Springs and had just one mile to go. The cold and wind intensified as we climbed the icy rocks. The last mile seemed to take forever, as I kept expecting to see the sign over and over. Once we crested the last ridge and it came in to view, I got some Maine dirt or something in my eyes because they were watering a bit and I went to the sign and screamed a raging girly scream of joy. It was an intense feeling that is just indescribable when it comes down to it. We took some photos for 5 or 10 minutes, but it was so cold that we didn’t want to linger. My fingers felt like they were going to fall off. We turned around and headed back down the 5.2 miles. We had some views in the morning light on the way down.


Looking down the ridge coming off Katahdin


Looking back up the boulder scramble area on Katahdin



We climbed back down and had to answer the question “what time did you leave this morning!?” about 10 times from day hikers. We got back down by around 10:15am. Packy and Tapey met us down in the lot and we celebrated with champagne and snacks. Thanks again for everything Mom and Dad! We departed Baxter State Park after a bit in a car. It’s weird to be going somewhere far in a car and not on foot. It’s a nice change for now. We’re both looking forward to some creature comforts like showers, toilets, good food, coffee, TV, etc. It’s the simple stuff like that that we don’t take for granted anymore, or at least for now.

I know sometime soon in the not so distant future though I’ll find myself thinking back on how fast this adventure went and wishing life were this simple again. Life is quite good when you get up every morning and your only responsibility is to hike somewhere new and beautiful and you  just have to follow the white blazes.


The last blaze on the trail. Sad.

So that concludes our lil’ walk. Thanks mucho to everyone for following along and for your love, support, comments, encouragement, well wishes, and the occasional piece of hate mail (j/k). It was really cool and unexpected that so many people checked this blog out. I had no idea. We got nearly 16,000 views since we started.

So that’s all, folks. At some point in the future, I’m going to post a recap with some “stats” and such and the “day in the life of a thru-hiker video” when I get around to editing it.

Otherwise, Adios, and good luck on your adventures. There was a quote all over the place on the AT in the south that I’m going to sign off with…

Go everywhere,
Study everything,
Fear nothing.

Vital stats for Monday, September 15th :
Milestone – finished the 2185.3 mile Appalachian Trail Thru-hike. Historically has over a 75% failure rate.
Miles hiked today – 5.2 (x 2 for the way back down).
Mood – happy, sad, excited, tired, weird, surreal
Physical state – very weary and tired, shoulders ache, back sore, neck sore, hands slightly bruised from bouldering, hips and surrounding joints sore, legs are tree trunks, knees feel shot to hell, bruises from falls, Achilles heel sore and feels slightly torn, heels sore, numb toes, toe joints feel screwed up, all tendons in feet screwed up, feet need to be replaced, thumbs tired from 153 blog posts on my phone, eyes bleeding. Aka thru-hiker normal.
Smell – pure pride and joy. J/k, brutally bad, I haven’t showered in a week!
Song stuck in my head – Started From The Bottom by Drake, Beautiful Day by U2

Day 152 – Rainbow Lake to Katahdin Stream Campground (mile 2180.1)

We got a lot of rain in our last night in the tarp. The tarp performed admirably yet again though and kept us nice and dry. We got up and were excited to get moving, as it was our last full hiking day. We hiked up to Rainbow Ledges above the lake and saw that Katahdin was shrouded in clouds today. That’s a bummer for the large group that climbed it today.


Clouds hiding Katahdin

I moved around until I got enough of a signal to check that Penn State won last night and then we hiked on. LET’S GO STATE!

Most of the terrain was pure, good Maine trail. We hiked out of the 100 miles of wilderness right around lunch and then we stopped in the Abol Bridge Camp Store/Restaurant. We rocked a big lunch with Shellback, charged our phones up, and pushed on for our last 10 miles of trail (excluding that little 4000 ft. climb tomorrow).


Big K still in the clouds around lunch at Abol Bridge


Mmm, real food after being in the wilderness for 5.5 days

The adrenaline started to pump for me this afternoon. The hiking was pretty easy as we stayed near the Penobscot River and then walked along some tributaries to the north. We entered Baxter State Park and hiked through it to Katahdin Stream Campground. We signed in at the ranger’s station and are hikers #505 and 506 to finish this year. Right when we left the station, we saw Ma and Pa Hnatow waiting for us. It was awesome to see them there. They brought us pizza and beer and we hung out at a picnic table with two other thru-hikers we met today, Viking and Patch. We hung out until it started to get dark and cold and then we made out way to the lean-to we reserved at the campground. We decided to reserve one ahead of time instead of take our chances at the small first-come first-serve thru-hiker site here, called The Birches. It turned out we would have been fine as there aren’t that many thru-hikers climbing tomorrow.

Our plan is to wake up at 2:30am, hit the trail at 3am, night hike up, and attempt to hit the summit by sunrise. It’s going to be freaking cold! I’m so pumped. It feels pretty weird to be writing one of the last daily blog posts. It’s been a lot of fun sharing these with friends, family, enemies, sheep, hackers, and Internet – enabled midgets. I suspect sleep is going to be difficult tonight, but that’s OK.

Vital stats for Sunday, September 14th :
Miles hiked today – 19.9
Mood – adrenaline pumping excitement
Physical state – ready to climb Mama K now
Smell – putrid moose corpse
Song stuck in my head – Lateralus by Tool

Day 151 – Tumbledown Dick Stream to Rainbow Lake (mile 2160.2)

We had a cold but peaceful night last night. We got up and started our second last full hiking day in the very chilly morning around 7am. It was a little sunny in the morning, but eventually clouded over and stayed gray and cold pretty much all day. We had mostly flat terrain except for a small climb up Nesuntabunt Mountain. We had more views of Katahdin from there, aka Mama K, aka Special K, aka Big K.


Big Special Mama Katahdin seen from Nesuntabunt

A lot of the trail today was evil Maine. We stayed by lakes almost all day, where there is often constant roots to hike over. We ate lunch at Crescent Pond.


Crescent Pond

The trail was really quiet today. We barely saw any other hikers. We think there is a bubble of hikers ahead of us that are all finishing either today or tomorrow. It was a pretty uneventful day overall.

We hiked around a lot of Rainbow Lake and made a stealth camp a couple hundred yards from the water rather than stay in the crummy looking campground a mile or two south. It started to rain just as we finished setting up. Hopefully this is the last rain we have to deal with out here.

Tomorrow we have almost exactly 20 miles to the Katahdin Stream campground, where we will make camp and then summit Monday morning.

Vital stats for Saturday, September 13th :
Miles hiked today – 20.5
Mood – ready to get to Katahdin tomorrow. Feels kind of surreal that it’s here.
Physical state – normal
Smell – rotten eggs on burnt toast covered in toejam
Song stuck in my head – Opale by Alcest