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As I write this, I am on a plane back to Florida. What a weekend full of many emotions!
At about 10:30am on Saturday, September 22nd, I made the summit of Mt. Katahdin!
The 100 mile wilderness was kind to us, overall. However, seven days straight in the woods takes a toll. We were tired and hungry. We hiked to the closest point to the base of Katahdin that we could, in Baxter state park. Sparky’s wife, Janet, met us there with a car which we proceeded to quickly stink up as Sparky, me, Longstride, and Silvergirl piled in.
As we hiked into the park, there was a ranger at a checkpoint to check us in. I was the first to tell him my name, and he proceeded to say, “ah, you’re Passionflowers group. We thought you guys would making it here today”. We had been referring to Katahdin as the “Emerald City” for a while now, and his reaction to us just confirmed how magical it was!
Just before I made it to camp on my last night in the woods, I hiked to a peak where I got this great view of the Emerald City:
My last couple nights in the woods were cold. I slept in layers of clothes, including my down pants and jacket. I don’t like the cold much, so the climate helped me feel a little more happy to be finishing.
With the colder weather, I was able to get a little taste of the New England Fall.
Since we hike so much with our head down, looking where to step, it was nice to see the beautiful color changes!
Before driving out of the park, we stop at the ranger station to sign in as an AT thru hiker. In Harpers Ferry, I signed in at #545. Here in Baxter state park, I am #496. We have seen a lot of new faces in the last three weeks, it seems. Many hikers have sped up to make it to the end before the cold. Some have slowed down to enjoy their last weeks. Also there are some who skip part of the trail all together to catch up with others, or make it before their visa is up and they need to fly back to their country. Myself, and the group I have hiked most with are proud to say that we have been able to hike the entire trail without missing a white blaze.
Janet drives us to the big moose cabins where her and Sparky, Longstride and Silvergirl with two of their kids, and myself will stay for a couple nights. Janet cooked us an excellent meal with appetizers, lasagna, homemade macaroni and cheese, salad, and pie for dessert. EZ and Gravity joined us for dinner as well, with four of their friends. It was such an exciting night. We were all excited and apprehensive at the same time to climb our last mountain the next morning. It was great to all be together. The weather forecast kept changing for Saturday, but we were hoping for the best.
Saturday morning came, and we were in cars by 5:30am, headed back to the park. It was cloudy, but seemed to be looking as if the fog was lifting.
Since I was the only one without friends and family who joined me, I hiked a little quicker than the rest. I soon caught up with Voltron, who we caught up to two days before. He had been ahead of us since reaching New Hampshire. The weather was looking up.
The first mile or so is not so steep, but eventually we start claiming vertical. It is 5 miles to the summit.
Layers of clothes come off as we get warmer climbing.
UP we go!
Soon, as we get higher, the weather turns colder, wet, and windy. By the time we get to ridge line, it gets less steep, but it is really cold and windy. I have few pictures of the rest of the hike because of the harsh conditions.
When I reached the summit, and saw the sign I have been walking towards for six months, tears rolled down my cheeks. It was so hard to believe that I had made it. I had been hiking for exactly 6 months, and today, my journey ended with a destination.
The weather made it difficult to bask in the moment of what was happening. I touched the sign, and couldn’t stop smiling!
The day I decided to do this trail, I met a southbound thru hiker with the trail name of “Whoopie Pie”. Her family met her at Springer mountain and was giving out homemade whoopie pies. It only seemed right that I celebrate my summit with a whoopie pie!
I waited for all my hiker family to arrive before I hiked back down.
Here is: EZ, Gravity, me, Silvergirl, Longstride, Voltron, and Sparky. We beat the odds and ALL made it to the end! What a perfect ending!The five mile hike back down was difficult, to say the least. Winds were high, almost blowing me off my feet at times. Rain turned to sleet. It’s difficult to climb rocks, but even more difficult to get back down, especially when they are wet and slippery. I had to slide on my butt multiple times. Some of our group was fearing hypothermia on the way down. Once we got down in elevation, the weather got more mild, and wasn’t even raining at the bottom.
We headed back to the cabin, had dinner, and everyone crashed out early from exhaustion. I guess it’s a good thing we had a little party the night before!
We did celebrate again with a big breakfast at the
Appalachian Trail cafe. They let thru hikers sign their ceiling tiles, and that we did! We have made history. Congrats to the AT thru hiker class of 2012!!
Miles hiked: 2184.2
Springer Mountain GA 3/22/12- Mt. Katahdin, ME 9/22/12
I just hiked the Appalachian Trail!
Lori ‘Passionflower’ Overton may have just successfully completed her thru-hike, but you can relive the adventure (including her close encounter with the back end of a bear) right here!
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