Yesterday, on the 26th day of July, I completed hiking the final miles of the Appalachian Trail. Joined by both my father and my incredibly good friend Santa, we climbed 4,100 vertical feet over 5 miles of terrain in order to reach the summit of Maine's legendary Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus of the A.T., a mountain well deserving of that title. The climb was grueling at points, technical, and involving hand-over-hand bouldering as it ascended into the sky. I know I owe you all a week of blog entries (I'm working on them- sickness, physical, and mental exhaustion proved too challenging to then write in detail at the end of every day) and I assure you they'll be posted as soon as possible, but I wanted to at least get a photo up of my summit.
The climb wasn't easy, I was weak with a still-present water-born illness, and took many breaks. There were times where my enthusiasm level was non-existent and I wondered to myself if I'd even care upon reaching the famed sign atop the peak. Luckily, turning a corner in a rock field high above the world below, I saw the finish line and immediately became ecstatic, doubling my pace and rushing off towards the end. Embracing and quite literally kissing the weathered and storied wooden sign, a physical object that has been the main character in many of my dreams over the past year, I cracked open a still-cold Sam Adams Lager that I had carried up, and poured it into my favorite 'Mt. Katahdin' pilsner glass which you'll see in the photo. As we three hung out with a few more section hikers, luckily having arrived late enough in the day that none of the hundreds of day-hikers were present atop the peak, I played some favorite Zac Brown Band songs (America the Beautiful, Chicken Fried, etc) on my portable speaker and drank my beer. We headed back down in half the time it took us to ascend, and were met by my mom, lifetime family friend Dana, and Santa's mom Sue at the base of the mountain.
I've done it. Yesterday, I did it. I have officially completed a thru-hike of the 2,185.3 mile Appalachian Trail in just 114 days. Your support has been inspirational and motivating, and I promise there will be more posts, including a detailed post about the Katahdin summit, coming this week. Please bare with me as I work through getting some real-world things done (like a doctor's appointment and attempting to fix my malnourishment) and I'll do my best to get you a few more days of decent blog reading. For now, back to Boston.
Onwards and upwards at some point in the near future... Today, I don't have to hike.
Ryan 'Texaco' McKee