9/28/12 – 2184.2 miles
Baxter Peak – Mt. Katahdin – northern terminus of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.
At 9:20 am, on September 28, 2012, I became an official thruhiker of the AT when I summited Mt. Katahdin in Maine, the end of my 2000+ mile journey. It will probably take a while for everything to sink in, and I will reserve my thoughts on the past six months until I have digested my feelings a little more. This is more of an update to let everyone know I am fine, and to thank all those who have been following me here on my blog.
The morning of my summit was near freezing temperature and I shivered in my sleeping bag while waiting for dawn to break. Around 5am, I broke camp and walked a quarter mile to the trail leading up the mountain. It was close to 6am when I signed the register, and aided by my headlamp, started the 4000′ climb to Baxter Peak. The trail was pretty easy at first, but after a mile or so became a boulder scramble and much more technical. Many times I had to pull myself up to a ledge or crawl over a slippery rock face as I worked higher on the mountain. It was definitely the hardest climb of the whole trip, but I had fun in the challenge of this final assent.
After a mile of hard climbing, the trail reached the tablelands and the terrain was easy from there to the summit. It took me 3.5 hours to the top but the view and feelings of accomplishment made it all worth while. I spent about 40 minutes on top, savoring the moments, enjoying the weather, sharing in the friendship with other thruhikers joining me at the summit, and eating a celebritory candy bar.
The climb down took a little longer. I guess the urgency was over and I just wanted to return safely from the mountain. When I reached Katahdin Stream Campground, I caught a ride to Millinocket with another thruhiker whose parents had come to pick him up on his summit day.
I booked into a motel for a couple of nights and will begin my transition back to New York tomorrow. My poor body is tired and sore. I always thought it would be my knee that would take me off the trail but it was a foot that suddenly halted me for two days. I’m still not sure what happened, the pain is on the top of my right foot and still hurts some. I think I need some rest.
I went to the store and bought new jeans – it’s been quite a while since I’ve worn size 34 – and I need to get a belt to hold them up. I lost a total of 40 lbs which will be hard to keep off – I still have a raging appetite.
Everyone will want to know, “what’s next?” and I really can’t answer that totally. The only plan for now is to get out west as soon as I can and see my Mom. Then it will be wherever the wind blows me.