It is 6:15 am and we are ready to hike up the trail to Katahdin. Tom, my husband is coming with us. There is 10 Bear, Zuko, Little Bear and her dad, St. Nick and Lindsey Taylor Jackson who is the film maker from the team for the documentary “Thru.” http://thruatdoc.com/
(10 Bear is the other film maker) I have concerns about Tom being able to keep up to us seasoned hikers, but I will do my best to cool my jets. We log in and start the 5 mile hike to the summit. It is a beautiful sunny day. I have no idea yet what is to come. I just know that after today I can head for home.
It is nice not to be carrying my full backpack and I realize I will never have to carry it again for a very long time. Well, at least not until next year and on very short hikes. It is good to see everyone laughing and having a good time on this our last day. I enjoy seeing Tom finally getting to experience what I have been doing for the last two states. Climbing.
He finds it incredible, that I am moving up the trail and not even breathing hard or sweating.
After the first major boulder climb he finally just waves me on. I move ahead, but constantly look back to keep him in view. I see hikers I haven’t seen in a long time returning from the summit. It is so good to see them and to know that they have achieved their goal.
The wind picks up the minute we get above the tree line. It is quite the climb through a boulder field with incredible heights and sights. I finally see the sign in the distance and can hear all the laughing and talking. Once arrive near the sign I hikers are already talking about the Pacific Coast Trail for 2018. I just want to get done and head for home. I think, “They can have this long distance hiking. I’m one and DONE.” I wait for Tom to get to the summit. Then pictures begin.
Once the picture taking is over, we find a little place out of the wind and have lunch. It is sunny, windy, and chilly at the summit. When we are done with our lunch, we head back the 5 miles that we had just climbed up.
Once again my height phobia kicks in. There is nothing to do but go down. At least I don’t have my pack trying to peel me off the rock surfaces like I have the last 2 months.
I wait for Tom now and again as he is struggles to get back to the parking lot. His muscles aren’t used to this kind of work out or elevation.
Once we are on a better part of the trail, I walk with my hands in my pockets and often stand and wait for him to catch up. 10 Bear stays with us for a while, but then she is off and no doubt running down the trail to catch up to other hiker friends and family.
When we finally get back to the parking lot, it is 6 pm. I was beginning to get nervous about getting back in time to get my registration card. I am #834. My hike is complete.
In the morning Tom and I head back to Minnesota via Canada. I will get home in time to see our son run his first marathon. After all, life can’t always revolve around my crazy adventures. Other people in my life have stories to tell too.
Post Hike-It has been almost 3 months since I finished this incredible journey. I am still trying to process all that happened along the way and to adjust to life post trail. I was never so happy to be going home and I really didn’t care if I ever saw a long distant trail again. Now, I sometimes wonder if the call of the Appalachian Mountains will ever leave my mind. For it didn’t take but two months, after my feet and knees felt better to once again hear the call of the wild. Maybe it isn’t so much as the trail calling, but the freedom of a simpler time. A time where my cluttered mind could deal with my uncluttered world. A world where one fork, one pot, and one stove, a sleeping bag, tent and backpack were almost all that I needed. I am now dealing with a house and life full of so many things that I feel mostly overwhelmed. I as an american, bought into the material world, just like so many others.
I spent the first few weeks hauling boxes of stuff to Goodwill. Instead of throwing away broken gear from the hike and replacing it with new, I am contacting the companies to try and do repairs. If I am able to just keep the ideals that were re-enforced on the trail about how to live my life then all those miles will pay off. If the parts of my personality that I discovered on the trail that I would like to change and start working toward that change, then I have learned something. Before I left for the trail, I would also have called myself a cynical person, but hiking the trail showed me that there are still good people in our nation and the world. Since I have been home, I started to watch the news again. Every morning and every evening there is BREAKING NEWS! Really? I have to ask the question. Why would that be? Maybe it is because our nation is trying to keep our minds cluttered. Why? Only each of us can answer that question for ourselves. I just know there is a better way out there than what we are being told.
So, what am I going to do post hike? I have a few speaking engagements about the hike around the area. I will be having an exhibit called-“Hiking Without a Canoe: A Photographic Journey of the Appalachian Trail,” in March 2017 at the First Stage Gallery in Virginia, MN. Then I will also be teaching photography classes in the area. Once that is all done, I’m not sure what comes next but I know right now, you wont be seeing dust gather on these shoulders.
Thanks for everyones support throughout the planning, hiking and post Appalachian Trail adventure. I couldn’t have done it without you all.