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