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 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.
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.
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.
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…
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
CONGRATS! What an awesome accomplishment. Now I have nothing to look forward to when I get in to work in the morning. It was fun following you guys on here and I just sat in my chair the whole time. Good luck in what lies ahead and I look forward to seeing the recap.
That’s awesome! Congrats! Thanks for all the updates and taking us all with you on your journey. Good luck and blessings on the next phase! 🙂
CONGRATS to you both VERY PROUD!!! I loved everyday reading your posts and being envious of your gorgeous views!! Can’t wait to see you when you get back to work Katie and can’t wait to congratulate in person. Much love and Support Shannon 🙂
CONGRATULATIONS! Your smiling faces make the Katahdin selfie the best picture of all but it will be better to see you smiling in person. Travel safely home. Elias
CONGRATULATIONS!!! You guys rock!!
It’s hard to know what to write at this point. We had the honor of meeting you at the end of your incredible journey and to bombard you with questions for several hours on the road. You have generously shared your adventure with us. But more than that, you have shared your heart and soul. You gave us the opportunity to “join” in your adventure while you did all the hard work. Thank you. Congratulations. I am immensely proud of both of you. We loved being your trail suppliers and feeling we could help in some small way. The world is yours. You will never lack for a good or interesting story. YOU ARE AMAZING!!!! (Use those remaining sneaker wings wisely. 🙂 )
Un-flippin-believable. Insanely great!
Ah-the Dream is now complete!It was REAL indeed!Congrates!Paraphrasing Boegy-you will always have the AT!
Your final blog was the best. Mom and I have been privileged as you shared insights, inside anecdotes, and trials and tribulations with us. We relished the face-to-face meetings with you on and off the trail. A huge congratulations to you Joel and Katie. You did it! You owned the AT! Love. Dad
Dear Katie, I felt your emotions today! This blog has been like reading a good book and looking forward to getting the next chapter everyday! While I reserved comments, given that I only know you through Sigma and our telephone conversations, it has been like being a fly on the wall reading the blog and seeing the comments. I think my favorite will always be what I call the ‘bear’ pun today! Thanks to you and your wonderful husband for letting us share in this incredible adventure. You are amazing and my lesson learned is that there are ALOT of songs that I do not know! Warm regards from Tanya and David Blair
Note scream in S. PA! awesome, unbelievable, indescribable, amazing duo.
Summitted the same day! Must have passed you’ns on your way down!