The following is an excerpt straight from my journal as Shaaades and I, two run weary North Bounders, trudge through the final Hundred Mile section of the Appalachian Trail before the northern terminus: Mount Katahdin. Follow our hilarious and emotional 6-day trek as we come to grips that our six month journey is finally coming to a close.
Day 7 September 11th, 8:45am
Started today at 5:30am! I AM FEELING AMPED AND ALIVE.
I woke up with “Into the West” still stuck in my head because Shaaades had been playing almost nonstop the day before. I told him this before I left, and he responded slowly from inside his tent, “Oh really, that’s so strange…especially since…it’s…PLAYING RIGHT NOW!” and I shrugged as it blared through his little red speaker yet again.
It’s becoming the theme of our final days in the woods.
But great news! I’m sitting looking at Katahdin again, and AND AND!!! Two huge things!
- THIS: LOOK AT THIS SIGN. KATAHDIN IS ON THE SIGNS NOW BECAUSE WE’RE WITHIN HIKING DISTANCE. 21.2 miles, oh my god.
- MY DAD IS OUT HERE SOMEWHERE AT THE NEXT CAMPGROUND HOPEFULLY AND I’M HIKING TO GO SEE HIM!
So, this Lil hiker is off to go find her Padre and get the fuck out of the Hundred Mile Wilderness.
8:25pm – Katahdin Streams Campground
OH MY GOD WHERE TO EVEN BEGIN!
#1 Most Important Thing:
WE SURVIVED THE HUNDRED MILE WILDERNESS.
Ah my god it’s amazing to be out. I mean, wonderfully beautiful place. We actually were having an awesome time towards the end there because the weather had gotten better and we got extra food. I still feel relieved to put this part of the journey behind me.
We were not alone in our suffering. There are countless stories of other hikers struggling through this part of the woods.
- Boundary wrote in a log book, “If there weren’t 48 miles until Katahdin I would quit.” I totally understand.
- Primo wrote about not having enough food either. He started rationing his food and felt hungry all the time. I feel your pain, baby.
- 12pack, Coach and their buddy from home hiked 25 miles and nearly passed out on the trail. Then the lost track of each other, their buddy pulled something important in his foot and couldn’t walk without being in pain, they barely had enough food as well. Again, I completely get it.
- Garbage Can fell waist deep in a river 3 hours after he had finally dried out his shoes and clothes. My god I could cry for you, Garbage.
But we all made it we are all here AND WE ARE SO CLOSE TO KATAHDIN OH MY GOD LOOK AT THESE PHOTOS LOOK AT HOW CLOSE WE ARE
So we found my dad and Shaaades’ parents in the Hundred Mile and us merry 5 hiked out to Abol Bridge and that’s when this view opened up in the September sunshine. My heart grew and almost burst. I started jumping up and down and laughed out loud. There she was, right in front of us, the mother of all mountains.
That’s when it started to become very difficult to ignore the end. I started to feel like I was moving extremely fast towards a brick wall.
By 6pm we’re doing our last 2.5 miles of regular hiking before going up Katahdin tomorrow and the sun is shining through the trees. I’m trying really really hard to tell myself this is just like any other day, that we’re still somewhere in the middle of Massachusetts, that we’ve still got so much time, that an expiration date doesn’t – no, can’t – exist for this hike.
And Shaaades is of course, you guessed it, playing “Into the West” and we’re singing along arms stretched out in the sunshine like we’re going to live forever. I really felt amazing in these last 2.5. I felt strong, excited, happy. We were dancing through, literally. I felt young and amazing, like I was in the middle of a great wave. I felt the power of the hiking community, the weight of all those who had trodden this part of the trail before me.
And then we turned a corner and this simple sight knocked me off my feet: you could see Katahdin through the trees. It became wholly impossible to ignore the fact that we were walking impossibly fast towards the end.
I stopped and said, “Woah.” I felt my heart drop a little. This really was it.
But we danced on, listening to Big Wild and other bands. “That’s the thing, Lil Wayne, I got MOVES,” Shaaades said as he sidestepped along the trail. And let me just tell you this moment – I absolutely loved this shit. This is the type of moment I’m going to treasure forever. I wish someone had filmed it, it was so perfect and free.
Shaaades and I came out of the woods and rolled up to Katahdin Streams Campground dancing, side stepping, arms in the air, smiling, laughing, singing along to music, straight up grooving without a single care in the world.
There was a woman sitting on a rock smoking a cigarette and she laughed with us. We saw her later the next day and she said, “Oh hey it’s the dancing hikers!”
We were the king and queen of the campground. We were so alive. We were so ready for anything. I felt so carefree and…well, there’s just not a correct word to describe it all.
And now we’re in the campground. It’s funny how quickly 2.5 miles pass by when they’re your last.
Today we walked 20 miles and tomorrow we will walk 9.5, up and over the end of our journey.
And then…and then and then and then. Who knows! I’m slowly starting to lose words as the night falls and the bugs creep in. Sleep feels strange. Shaaades is awake and staring off and smoking a lot of cigarettes. My dad is passed out, he had a time and a half backpacking – I’ll write about that whole experience later, it’s pretty funny.
We are fed (because Dad brought SO MUCH FOOD!!!!! WOOOOH!) and we are waiting patiently for our worlds to be shattered.
And we must move inevitably forward, even if that means towards the end.
Time to cowboy camp, one last time.
I wish you could see the stars, oh my god.
Goodnight, goodbye, and as always