I Made It!!!

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.

Castaway on Katahdin

Castaway on Katahdin

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.

19 Responses to “I Made It!!!”

  1. Daryl says:

    That is so cool!!! Words can’t express.

    Looking forward to seeing you soon and hearing lots of stories.

  2. Donna says:

    Congratulations! Such an accomplishment. I knew you could do it. Can’t wait to hear more. Hurry home. ♥

  3. Don says:

    I am so, so proud of what you have accomplished. I’ve been bragging to my workmates and friends about you.

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the whole trip as you digest it.

  4. Anita says:

    Congratulations, Castaway!!! I”m glad to hear you made it! Thanks for your support of Kleenex all through the trail.

    Kleenex’s mom

  5. chicken feathers says:

    Congratulations Castaway To bad you were not able to finish with your hiking partners. Why did they leave you. Unless they had to finish by a certain time they should have stayed with you to the end. I guess that is the way they would want to be treated if they were having a setback. I think you know how I feel about that. I want to treat other I am hiking with the same way I want to be treated.Just my two cents worth. Any Congratulations on your completion.

  6. Gma says:

    I cried, something I rarely do. So many prayers have been with you all the way. I’m so proud that you reached your goal; it was quite an accomplishment.

  7. Terry says:

    I am so proud of u reclaiming ur wildness!…a lesson for us all… 🙂 lots of love and respect to u from Zack, Nate, Noah and myself.

  8. Robin says:

    Congratulations! It’s been fun following along on your big adventure. Enjoy some much deserved rest and food!

  9. Castaway says:

    Chicken Feathers – The Troverts and Kleenex would have stayed with me but I made them go on. The trail makes no guarantee that anyone will finish, and many say that my summit day may have been the last good day before the park closes. It was hard to let them go, but I could not have lived with myself if they stayed and lost the completion of there hike. Just my opinion.

  10. chicken feathers says:

    Castaway that was your choice but you and I was in the same situation but not as close to the end as you were and you wanted me to go on but I would not go hiked with you in the good times was going to stay with you when the times are bad.

  11. Susan says:

    I was so glad to get the “I made it!” news. Many prayers answered. Congratulations on completing a journey too tough for most of us. If the winds ever blow you this way to visit the Troverts, you all will have to come over the back fence for dinner with us.

  12. Dick says:

    I’m late to congratulating you because Dianna and I were out hiking in a wildlife preserve. Not that our hike compares to your adventure, but somehow it seems appropriate to get the news when returning from a hike. Amazing undertaking and accomplishment!

    I was beginning to wonder if your foot problem was psychosomatic and that you just didn’t want the adventure to end, but you did it. Now you need to write a book.

  13. Murphy says:

    Congratulations! What an accomplishment! I hope your foot heals quickly. I have enjoyed reading about your journey.

  14. Don says:

    I have a new wallpaper on my computer. I find it very inspirational. 😀

  15. Lisa says:

    That is such an amazing accomplishment! Congratulations! Enjoy some good rest. Thanks for blogging about your journey. It has been fun reading about all the amazing experiences you had.

  16. Karen says:

    You are awesome! I’m so proud of you. Enjoy your rest and relaxation.

  17. Susan Fox says:

    Dale: You don’t know me. I am the CareGiver from Home Instead Senior Care that helps your mom out twice a week. The first topic of conversation that we had when I started helping her was your hike on the AT. I have thoroughly enjoyed finding out where you were on your hike every time I was with your mom, and reading your blog relating your adventure. Your mom is so proud of you and wanted to share everything about your hike with me. I consider it a privilege and a blessing and want to join everyone else in congratulating you on the completion of such a wonderful life-changing, life-informing adventure. I am proud of you, too, and I hope that I get to meet you when you come to visit your mom.

  18. Hi Dale – A shout and hoorah! from Carlisle Pennsylvania. What an accomplishment! We are glad to have been a tiny part of this amazing journey. Come back and visit.

  19. Twinkie says:

    Dale, knowing you now is great. So many adventures you have to share and how patient you are answering all my questions about the AT. Thanks!

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