Day 170: The Big One (Part 1)

Publish date: Nov 1, 2019

At 4AM, my group assembled on the bridge to Baxter State Park. Brad read us one more speech, and then we started off on our last hike. We arrived at the base of Katahdin right as the sun reached the sky. By some miracle, the weather was actually looking good.

The ranger tried to give us a spook by emphasizing just how difficult this climb was going to be. He gave me my final thruhiker number: I was the 946th NOBO to complete the AT this year. We dumped most of our gear into Yoshi’s brother’s car. With 5lb packs and a spring in our steps, we headed up Katahdin

I flew up that mountain. It was easily the most challenging climb on the trail, but I had never felt healthier or stronger. I hiked the last mile (the “Gateway”) with Rob. There was a bit of a crowd at the top, so we snapped our pictures and then sought wind cover to wait for the rest of our group.

It’s difficult to predict what you’re going to feel up there. For me, I was just sort of elated. One hiker emitted a loud, soulful yelp “AHHHHH!” that really freaked out the day hikers. Another burst into tears. Most of us didn’t really know how to process it.

Once the whole group reached the top, James distributed some celebratory ring pops he had been carrying, and we reminisced about some of our best moments on trail. Then we split up and headed down the mountain on separate routes.