Town day!!!! But first two mountains to climb and Maine keeping up her reputation took me straight up and straight down. Ouch - the knees are screaming! But the forest is beautiful in the north - dark, green, wet and Tolkien-like. When I got to the road crossing there was a piece of a map taped to the tree with duct tape with an invitation from two gentleman hikers I'd met earlier in the week requesting my presence for dinner in town! Neat! I have a "date"! A typical town day - eat town food, shower, laundry, eat, post office, buy needed supplies, eat, dry out wet gear, phone calls, eat and yes a pillow...sweet dreams....
Somehow I have caught a really bad cold; I am never sick! I have felt so bad the last few days I can barely remember anything but endless walking when all I want to do is lay down. Even the small ups are hard and I am trying to climb the Bigelow Range (3000 feet climbs)! On 9/3 I passed the 2000 mile marker! Wow! The loons calling at night off the ponds is pure wilderness poetry. One day I passed a sandy beach on East Carry Pond - well actually I didn't pass it - I lingered there for over an hour laying on the beach in the sunshine - luxurious and healing for my cold. Loons were fishing in the pond and then they came up on the beach just 20 feet from where I lay to preen. What a delightful treat! I crossed the Kennebec River on 9/5 - a big Northern landmark! The river is too dangerous to ford so the ATC hires a caretaker to canoe hikers across - neat!
A trail sign today said "Katahdin - 83.9 miles" ; I am under 100 miles from the "end".......Yesterday I went through Monson - the last trail town on the AT. The trail towns have held unexpected blessings for me. Of course, the food, showers, mail, calling home, I knew would be special; what I didn't expect is the incredible kindness and over and beyond accommodating attitudes of the town folks towards hikers - dirty, ragged and smelly strangers! But they treat us like family! It has warmed my heart and soul to see such genuine goodness in people. I hope they realize how uplifting that can be to a weary hiker. I shared a shelter tonight with "Pokey Puppy" - a man I met on the AT in 2004!
There was cold and steady rain all day on 9/11...one of my greatest challenges. It is so hard to keep a positive attitude in rain. You see nothing while hiking because you keep your face down to keep water out of it. You can't stop for breaks because you get too cold if you stop moving, so you are hungry. The rocks are more treacherous when wet. You don't get any views after climbing relentlessly mountains with uninviting names that day of Barren Mt, Fourth Mt, Third Mt - geez! If you do get a sight of something interesting you can't take pictures because your camera is stowed away in your pack to keep it dry. So you just walk. 9/12 was cold and windy but no rain so the spirits were up and the views from White Cap Mountain, I think, were my favorite views on the whole trail! I could see Mt. Katahdin way in the distance - a gray shape on the horizon. The best thing about rain is the next day when you don't have rain - how immensely grateful you feel. Thank goodness for only one day of rain; I remember in the spring of 2004 having 6-7 days of rain in a row! How did I do it? Today, 9/13, I only had one mountain to climb! After it, Litttle Boardman Mt., a southbounder I passed promised me 18 "sweet" miles! And to top off the day - the privy tonight had curtains!!!
The end feels so near...I am on Map # 1 ... Passing a side trail today that said "view of Katahdin" - I couldn't resist ( usually I don't take side trails - extra mileage - ugh!) Looking around for her, I turned my head and WHAM!! she was right there. She took up the whole sky; I could almost touch her. I got emotional and started crying, then I got giddy and practiced my summit poses! It is just hard to believe that I am almost done...I was just silly the rest of the day! Tonight’s shelter is Rainbow Stream Lean-To; it is the one featured on the cover of my 2004 AT Data Book that I have carried for over 2000 miles. I went to sleep with a big silly grin on my face!
Joining friends Rich, Cooker Hiker and Nails at Abol Bridge I am ecstatic! One more hiking day and then the climb up Mt. Katahdin! My emotions are impossible to put into words...
The big day is here! I climb Mt. Katahdin today and finish the Appalachian Trail! We have "the prayed for Class I for climbing day" which translates to perfect! We were on the trail by 6:10 AM. With all the difficult climbs behind us this "Greatest Mountain" was not too bad. I did get a bit scared and teary on some of the technical stuff but having friends with me eased the fear greatly! The tableland on top was lovely - reds and grays and incredible views and what was once that big peak to our left is now a bump on the ground! Then I caught my first glimpse of THE SIGN - THE SIGN! Nails and I walked the last few feet hand in hand and just fell against it! The next few minutes were full of hugging, crying, posing for our summit pictures,,,, dancing with my scarf, praying...
Hiking the Appalachian Trail is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life...But We did it...I did it...Mt. Katahdin...The AT completed...2174.6 miles..14 states...4 seasons...one dream...Thank you God...