I’ve officially been finished with the Appalachian Trail for one week and it seems like the entire experience is another world away. I’ll be writing a series of blogs over the next few weeks about my adjusting back to home life again, as well as some reflections on the trail and how it impacted my life in both the good and bad ways.
I suppose first I should talk about the emotional last day on the trail. Nokey and I wanted to get up as early as possible to get up and down Katahdin in a reasonable amount of time as our plan was to do the Knife’s Edge Trail down. We wanted to make sure David could pick us up in a reasonable amount of time to get us out to Abol Bridge Campground for showers, as well as for us to have enough time for dinner and to get the car packed. We woke up at 6 a.m. and hoped to get started by 7:15. In true Nokey and Sprinkles fashion, we of course didn’t start until half an hour after that! We started up the Hunt Trail (AT) at 7:40 a.m. on Tuesday, 9-11-12, with David hiking with us for the first mile. David left us at Katahdin Streams Falls about 1.25 miles up. From here, the climb got a little more steep for a mile before turning into a shear granite climb. We climbed up with the assistance of rebar in two places. Nokey had to stop and turn around to give me a helping hand several times as I just wasn’t tall enough to reach the hand grips. At 10:15 a.m., we reached an area of the mountain called The Tableland. This area had a nice gentle slope up to the peak, which by now we could actually see the outline of the sign up top and people gathering. We had a 45-minute hike from here to the peak. When we got close and the sign came into view from the final ascent the emotion I felt was completely overwhelming. We both walked over and touched the sign at 11 a.m.
There were a lot of people on the summit, including several other thru hikers, Comanche, B-1, Tree Hugger, Sonic… several others came up while we were there as well. We took an array of funny and celebratory photos, shot videos, took in the scenery, and reflected on our journey. After sitting up top until 12:15 p.m., we decided that the wind hadn’t died enough for us to feel comfortable with hiking Knife’s Edge Trail. We still didn’t want to hike back down the way we’d come up, so we decided to hike the Saddle Trail to Chimney Pond, where the trailhead actually met up with the Helon Taylor Trail, which was the original place David was going to pick us up. We said goodbye to Lighthouse, Catnap, and Santa’s Helper for the last time.
We hiked down the back side of The Tableland and took in the beautiful scenery. After a mile and a half, we began the rapid descent down a rock slide to Chimney Pond. We had views back up to the top the entire time and it was just a gorgeous trail. When we reached the bottom at 4 p.m., we were elated to have just completed such an epic journey together. We hugged and I got a little teared up, but mostly we were just exhausted.
We drove to Abol Bridge and David went into the camp store while Nokey and I slipped into the campground with our $0.50 so we could take a hot 6-minute shower. We ran into Trog at the campground and he congratulated us on our summit. That was it. Our trip had officially ended. I was now clean and dressed in cotton clothes. I never had to put on that stinky purple shirt or those black spandex shorts that gave me pack rash ever again. We drove down Golden Road and showed David the AT and the 100-mile wilderness. We took in our last view of Katahdin before heading back to the lean-to we’d rented for the night and cooking a big dinner together. We sat around the campfire and recounted the details of the day and cherished our last night in the woods together.