Words cannot fully capture the emotions of this day. We woke up early and ate our last Trail breakfast. Packed up our gear and headed out to the ranger station. We each dropped off a few pounds of unnecessary gear and started off on the AT. We filled our water bottles for the last time. Some other thru-hikers had already started the ascent. As we crossed the campground in early morning light, we came upon a clearing... and there stood Katahdin... high and mighty looming above us. It was to be a difficult climb to the top. I couldn't believe that we were doing it. That this was it. The first mile went by pretty quickly as we passed Katahdin Stream Falls. Then the Trail quickly started to climb. A nice steady incline at first but soon turning to more hand over hand scrambles. Once we got above treeline we saw other peaks around us and the lakes below us and the clouds above us. It was truly an epic scene. We dipped below treeline one last time then started the more scary and difficult portion... climbing straight up to the Tableland. After this long, grueling climb, we were getting close. The scene was straight out of Lord of the Rings... Rohan. We stopped at Thoreau Spring for one last snack break before the end. We had ONE MILE left on the AT. We started up towards Baxter Peak, and as we got within about half a mile, there it was. The sign. A group of people were gathered around it but it didn't matter. Right now it was just going to be me, Anna, God, and that sign. KATAHDIN. We held hands the last 50 yards or so. We walked up to that sign and when Anna placed her hand on it and I hugged it, together, we officially became thru-hikers of the Appalachian Trail. What?! WE. DID. IT. I thought I might start to cry once I reached the sign, but I only got a little misty eyed a few minutes before when I first caught glimpse of the sign. How often I had imagined us reaching that sign when the Trail was excruciatingly difficult. And now here we were. Standing before it. We let the feeling sink in a bit (though even as I write this, I'm not sure if it has fully hit me yet). Our other thru-hiker buddies were there, too. Whoop and Resource. Connect4. ManBearPig and DudeManBro. Everyone was excited and enjoying this moment with each other. After about 15 minutes I decided to make it happen. I set up the GoPro in front of the sign and asked DudeManBro to take one more video of us. Anna was happy but maybe a bit unsure of what I was doing. "I just wanna get some video of us on the sign and stuff. Let's yell at the top of our lungs!" And so we did. And then we did our high five secret handshake. And then I stepped down from the sign and said, "Anna... KitFox... I know we just finished the Appalachian Trail, but I wanted to know if you would go on another adventure with me." She says nothing. "Do you wanna get a two-person tent?" And when she said YES I couldn't stop smiling. What an incredibly joyful moment we were now sharing! We kissed. She put on the ring. Everyone cheered. I broke out the champagne bottle I had hidden in my pack. ManBearPig said, "Dude you guys, we just witnessed history." We soaked it in some more on top of the mountain and then started to head back down. We were finished with the AT, but we still had to climb back down this mountain! Wow! We were excited. It took us several hours to climb down, and when we did our parents were there waiting for us. What a wonderful reunion. I was so glad to see all of them there together waiting for us at the end. It was perfect. We went out to have our celebration dinner in Millinocket. We sat outside and ate delicious food overlooking a beautiful lake with Mount Katahdin in the background. What a perfect day and a perfect way to end one journey and begin another. I am truly thankful to God and his love and to all my family and friends for their love, support, and encouragement. I am thankful beyond belief for Anna coming into my life and falling in love with her. She is an inspiration to me. It really is a wonderful life.
It really is a wonderful life.
And this is the history of our thru-hike. As many of you may know, Anna and I are no longer together. We split ways earlier this year. She is an incredible person and I know she will continue to do great things. Like I said in my final journal entry, I am so thankful for her and that we completed this journey together. Life doesn't always turn out the way we think it will or want it to, but we keep moving forward one step at a time. We're all on this earth for a purpose, and I think hiking the Trail allowed me to experience life on its most fundamental level.
Live life everyday. One day at a time. One step at a time. Climb a mountain. Witness a sunrise. Swim a lake. Smell a tree. Walk. Run. Breathe. Sweat. Cry. Scream. Share. Give. Laugh. Love. Live.
I think of all the people who we encountered on our hike and the impact they made on us. And I think of all the family and friends back home who helped us beyond count and encouraged us along the way. Friends. Family. Complete strangers. I want to thank each and every one of you who was a part of this journey. Each and every one. I thank you for your love.
"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives." - Clarence, It's A Wonderful Life
|KitFox ascending Katahdin|
|ManCub ascending Katahdin|
|The final entry|
|The final tally|