The road less traveled…

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100-mile Wilderness to Katahdin

So many people were worried about the 100-mile wilderness, but there was nothing to worry about. As far as difficulty, the trail in the 100-mile wilderness was really easy-going and enjoyable. However it is 100 miles of trail that has no civilization or opportunities to re-supply along the way. For some this means bringing 10-12 days of food, for me…more like 6-7.
I was actually on a pretty tight schedule to meet up with Joe on the other side of the wilderness, and because of the rain I was a little behind. Therefore, I booked it through the wilderness like a crazy person, doing it in 5 days. There were a couple of times that I ended up night-hiking and got to a shelter after dark, but otherwise it was easy terrain and I had no problems doing 25-30 miles a day. The scenery was awesome, but to tell you the truth it just made me think of my home on Parker Pond and made me want to hike faster so I could go home.

On the North side of the wilderness you come out on a road and have to cross a bridge and there’s an amazing view of Katahdin. Joe and I stayed at the Abol Bridge campground right there on the water and had the same view from our campsite, it was quite spectacular. I “slackpacked” another 10 miles to get back to the campground so that all I had to do the next day was summit.

It was really weird thinking that I only had one more day left of hiking, and then I was done. It felt surreal. Most of my fellow thru-hikers that I knew had already summitted in the previous week, so I was gonna climb Katahdin solo.

Katahdin (August 18):
I woke with the feeling that it was Christmas morning. I was so excited to finish my hike! It was a gorgeous clear day with hardly a cloud in the sky when I started up. I didn’t get going until 8:30 and it was a Saturday so I knew that I would run into a lot of weekenders/day-hikers, but nobody could rain on my parade! I felt like I was flying up the mountain, constantly passing people and climbing over the boulders like they were nothing.

About a mile from the summit is the “tableland” where you come over a ridge and it flattens out for quite a while and you can see the top of Katahdin. It was at this point that the reality of my journey ending suddenly hit me. I think I might have stopped walking for a while, and of course I started crying. So I suddenly became the hiker that was passing everyone and wiping tears from my eyes at the same time.

It was actually very anti-climactic reaching the top of Katahdin. I got to the sign and just sat down, watching all of the people around me. My eyes were still leaking and the emotional chaos I was experiencing is honestly too difficult to describe. It was overwhelming. I took out my celebratory summit beer, popped it open, and started taking my summit pictures that I had been dreaming about for 5 months now. I spent about an hour on the summit, soaking in the fantastic view and reflecting on the crazy path I took to get there. A past thru-hiker was on the summit and congratulated me, I guess he could obviously tell I just finished my hike, maybe it was the beer…or the tears. And then I decided it was time to go home. I flew down the mountain just as fast as I climbed up it. Even after sitting on top for an hour, I still passed people on the way down that I had also passed climbing to the top, they were still trying to get to the top. I got to the parking area, celebrated with Joe over another beer, and then we drove home.

I hope that over the last few months you have enjoyed these glimpses into my journey from Georgia to Maine. I’ve met people and experienced things that have changed my life. I’ve seen complete strangers show me their sincere kindness and it has restored my faith in humanity. I can’t begin to explain the things I’ve learned or how I’ve grown while I was out in the wilderness. I’ve spoken to other hikers about this and we’ve talked about how challenging it will be when we go home, trying to describe our experiences, and not being able to do so. I believe it is something that I will always share with those I met on the trail, whether it was for a short or long period of time. It’s a completely different culture of people who can thru-hike the A.T., and I am proud to be a part of that family, even if some of them are a little on the crazy side, myself included. Thank you all for your support and prayers.
-Sketch

“True commitment begins when you reach the point of not knowing how you can possibly go on, but decide to do so anyway.” -unknown

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September 16, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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