Coming to Fruition
At 5am my alarm sounded, but I already lay awake waiting for that moment. It was a pretty sleepless night, occupied by anxiety and excitement. It was my last day on the AT, the day I was to summit Katahdin. I moved about, my heart racing, thinking about my first day on the trail and some of the most memorable moments. I definitely questioned whether or not this day was real–I couldn’t believe that I actually made it to Maine.
At 6:30 in the morning I embarked on my last day of hiking. It was only a 5.3 mile hike up to the summit of Katahdin and I didn’t have to carry my pack. The sun was not yet shining, but the birds were out and singing loudly. The start of the trail was flat and rocky, quickly progressing to granite staircases and long veins of smooth rock. I was amazed at how fast I covered the first 1.5 miles. I guess I was just so excited to get there! All time was a blur–flying by at lightening speeds.
I was absolutely shocked when I got to the end of the treeline. Surely I couldn’t be climbing that quickly. The mountain opened up to one massive stack of boulders. They were the size of cars and the white blazes took me up and over them. The sky was a deep azure and there wasn’t a single cloud in sight. I approached a vertical rock face about 6 feet high with a 6 inch gap running down the center. At the top of the gap was a rung and a hook. I had to carefully pull myself up and over the rock face.
The trail brought me to another section–almost straight up with a mixture of rocks and boulders. It was a fun rock scramble. I used my hands to steady myself and carefully ascended the rock face. I remember thinking how fast this experience was going by. I kept thinking, “I am almost there!” At the top of the rock scramble I arrived at the cornice. The mountain flattened out for about a mile and then there was one more mild climb to the peak.
I had to fight the urge to run. I kept stopping and telling myself to slow down. It was an absolutely beautiful day, my last day! As I strolled across the flat mile I contemplated my time on the trail. I passed a small and clear spring to my right–Thoreau spring. I thought back to high school when I read Thoreau’s essay on his hike up to Katahdin. I thought it amazing to finally experience that which I had read about so long ago.
I reached the last ascent; I could see the cairn at the very top. My heart was pounding. At that moment I didn’t care anymore–I started running up the mountain. I felt that I could hardly breathe. Suddenly I saw it–that big sign marking the end of the Appalachian Trail. As I approached the northern terminus tears began to f all. I collapsed onto the sign; there was no one else there. So many emotions ran through me. I was so thankful to have made it from Georgia and so relieved that the experience was finally over!
It was such an epic moment. I sat alone on Katahdin in shear amazement. It was 9am and I was on top top of the world. I snapped to, remembering that I had packed a celebratory PBR in my day pack. I cracked open the cold beer and sat at the peak, enjoying my accomplishment. A little bit later, I looked out to see someone approaching. Night Train made his way to the summit. It was so good to see a familiar face. We reveled in the glory and took photos of one another on the sign. By that time, day hikers and tourists began flooding the top. They all cheered and congratulated us for making the 2,181 mile journey.
Later, Shoefly, Nero, Inchworm, and Sprocket made their way to the summit. We all celebrated the surreal moment. I was so joyed to celebrate with Shoefly and Nero as I met them on my 5th. day on the trail. What incredible timing to start and end with the same people! What and incredible moment!
I looked out in amazement at the scenery. The ocean stretched out before me. I guess it hadn’t really sunken in; it was a strange sensation. I couldn’t believe that I had just hiked from Georgia to Maine!