The day started at 4:30 am. We packed up all the luggage and headed back to Abol Bridge. Bonnie, Kate, Max, Jonathan, and my Dad were all joining me for the final hike up Mt. Katahdin. While Joshua stayed back at the cabin sleeping, my Mom dropped us off at the trailhead at 5:15 am. We needed to hike 10 miles to the base of Mt. Katahdin before 10 am in order to register for our hike up the mountain.
It was a beautiful cold, clear morning. I couldn't have asked for better weather or for better company on the final hike. Initially, the terrain was flat and we were hiking either alongside a river or by ponds, it was a fantastic morning and the 10 miles flew by.
At 9:30 am arrived at the Katahdin Stream Campsite (the base of the mountain). We filled up water and snacked a little before starting the final ascent. I registered as a thru hiker at the Ranger Office as is required to climb the mountain. I am thru hiker number 495 for the year and, to my knowledge, the only 17 year old to complete the trail this summer.
The first two miles above the camp were easy, but once we got the above tree line it became very, very challenging. It makes sense that the last mountain on the Appalachian Trail should be more challenging than any other single mountain on the AT. The next 2 miles were mostly bouldering, and there were many false peaks, making the ascent to the top very deceiving.
The last mile was not too bad and we could see the top. It was an odd feeling of being so close to the end point of an journey. And what an end to an amazing adventure it was. When we got to the top, we enjoyed a spectacular view. We rested with a short lunch break at the peak until the wind and the cold encouraged us to move down to lower elevations.
It has been 107 days since I set out on the trail back in Georgia. Now to be done, it is very hard to say what emotions I felt while on the mountaintop. I felt many - relief, accomplishment, joy. It may take some time to sort out all of my thoughts.
After we finished lunch, we headed the 5.2 miles back to the base. When we had climbed down to the bouldering section, Max and I went on ahead to see if we could catch my Mom who was going to wait for us at the Katahdin Stream Campsite. Max and I got down at 5 pm, and the others arrived at 6 pm or 13 hours after we started. At the entrance to the campsite, there was a lady doing a survey of thru hikers and their experience on top of Katahdin. She offered me a juice box and how could I say no.
It was a very hard hike and everyone was tired and hungry. We had no idea that that the hike up the mountain was going to be that challenging as it involved so much bouldering. Once everyone got down, we headed to the cabin, this one was in the park overlooking Kidney Pond. It was a very pretty area, and when we got out of the car, the trail magic continued as we met 20 Dollar Mike, who gives 20 dollars to all thru hikers he meets.
For dinner we had simply sandwiches. In Baxter State Park, for visitors, they don’t have any electricity, potable water, or trash cans in the whole park. It is pack in and pack out - just like the trail. We initially were not planning to spend the night, but with the final climb taking so much extra time, we didn’t really have a choice. The cabin we rented only holds six people; however, with Max and I, we had a total of eight. The park ranger asked us how many people we had in our group. Thankfully, he found a tent site for Max and I back at the Katahdin Stream Campsite.
So Mom and Bonnie drove Max and I back to the tent site and we finally got to bed around 9 pm. One more night in a tent, before we head back home
Abol Bridge, over Mt. Katahdin and the end of the AT, to Kidney Pond Cabins, Baxter State Park