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We Made It!

2011 August 19

We made it!

We made it. We summitted Katahdin, a dream 5 and a half months in the making (and that was just the walking part!). It was a long road and we wouldn’t be here today without the support of our families, random trail angels along the way, and copious quantities of pain killers. We were ready for it to be over, but didn’t want it to end. However, all things must come to an end and now we are ready to start remembering our adventure — and planning the next one!

 

On Monday, August 15th we arrived at the Katahdin Stream Campground in Baxter State Park. We registered with the Ranger there and were originally planning to stay at the famous Birches Lean-to that night, but the weather was just crummy and the next day was supposed to be more of the same. So with 5.2 miles to go (basically just the mountain climb), we hitched out to Millinocket. We heard the weather was going to be absolutely BEAUTIFUL on Wednesday – what they call a Class 1 day – so that settled it. We would delay climbing Katahdin one day so we could summit in better weather. I mean, who wants to walk 2000 miles and not even have a view? Not these guys.

Wednesday dawned and it was indeed spectacular! Not a hint of rain or even a cloud as we got into the park and started our climb. We couldn’t believe we were making our final ascent. It seemed surreal as we hiked up the mountain toward this goal we’ve been pushing toward for so long. We started referring to Katahdin as Moby Dick” the closer we got… something always seemed to happen to keep us from just getting to the top! We could see it for miles, even days, looming in the distance. Sometimes shrouded in clouds or lost behind another mountain, but we knew it was there. Always making an appearance. Elusively slipping from view.

A view of Katahdin--our "Moby Dick"

Here we were at last. Hiking up THE mountain. Our hiking soon turned into scrambling, and the scrambling turned into climbing. About halfway up the mountain rebar hand- and foot-holds had been installed to help people climb up and over the rock walls. It was… an adventure. Sure, there are quite a few trails you can take to get up Katahdin from all angles, but this is THE way. The WHITE BLAZE way. The hard way.

 

Once you get past the nastiness, the rest of the hike wasn’t so bad. Eventually the trail levels off around Thoreau Spring about a mile from the top, and we were moving pretty well, ready to be there. Especially since we could see the top–the sign with people gathered around it. This was really happening. We were almost done.

The end of the journey.

Since it was such a gorgeous day, we were certainly not alone. While we were the only current year thru-hikers up there at the time, we were surrounded by people day-hiking the mountain. We spent probably an hour or more at the summit taking pictures of other people, having them take pictures of us, and enjoying “the big finish.” It was surprisingly emotional for me. I’m not really an emotional guy, so there wasn’t any weeping or anything like that but it felt great to be there at that sign. Sad that it was over, excited to be done, anxious about what’s next, tired from the climb, satisfied to have made it, happy about the great weather, ecstatic to be there with my wife. That pretty well sums the moment up in a sentence, if I had to.

 

The Knife's Edge . . . or is it the path to Mordor?

From there, we had only to choose our path down. Once you’re done the rest is gravy — finally free to choose our OWN path. :) A 2010 thru-hiker, Seven Dwarves,  talked us into doing the Knife’s Edge – which we had been talking about doing already on such a beautiful day – so we set out on a the narrow, rocky ledges that led to the bottom of the mountain, the parking lot, and back to town for the last time. The climb down the mountain was just as hard as the climb up, but we finally made it into town and ate a celebratory meal at the Appalachian Trail Cafe and added our names to the 2011 Thru-hiker register (which happens to be a ceiling tile!).

Yesterday we woke up pretty stiff. All the contortions we managed getting up the mountain and back down Knife’s Edge took their toll. But you know what? We don’t mind. We’re on a bus headed home.

Ceiling tile at the Appalachian Trail Cafe

SurvivorMan, Ga--> Me 2011

 

 

Muggle, Ga --> Me 2011

 

 

 

10 Responses leave one →
  1. Kyle permalink
    August 19, 2011

    Congrats guys – that’s awesome! Enjoyed reading about your journey.

  2. Rob permalink
    August 19, 2011

    Way to go you two! Been following you when you first started, glad to hear you finished. CONGRATS!!!

  3. August 19, 2011

    Congratulations! What a gorgeous day you had for the grand finale! Thanks so much for sharing your journey. I have enjoyed following along with you.

  4. August 19, 2011

    Congratulations. So good to see a goal come to fruition. I hope you both get a chance to bask in the victory!

  5. Kathy & Kenny Munsey permalink
    August 19, 2011

    Congrats !

  6. Jay Davis permalink
    August 20, 2011

    Congrats.
    Great Job!
    I know I would be emotional.
    What a accomplishment!

  7. Anonymous permalink
    August 21, 2011

    Way to go. I’ve enjoyed following the adventure and hope one day to do it myself. Can’t wait to see what adventure you guys take on next.

  8. Chris Howard (Steps) permalink
    August 24, 2011

    I just witnessed (and signed) that ceiling tile in Millinocket !
    CONGRATULATIONS to the two of you :)

    • August 25, 2011

      Congratulations to you too! We are both happy to have had a chance to hang out with you for a while. What a trip, what a trip…

  9. Brian permalink
    August 25, 2011

    Congrats guys…..enjoyed reading about your adventure, and very impressed to see how difficult the AT is. The flatlands of Indiana must really seem flat now!

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