I’m sitting in the lobby of the Katahdin Inn in Millinocket, Maine, pondering. For a little over five months every one of my days has revolved around a hike. After tomorrow, hopefully, that will change. So with only the 5.1 miles to the summit of Katahdin remaining, I’m reflecting a little over my time on the AT. For a while there I didn’t think this day would ever arrive. Now that it’s here, it feels more like a dream in many respects than reality. To be quite honest, I just want to get it done and go home to Georgia.
While I have been hiking the AT many have commented on trailjournals or on my website referencing the word “dream.” Thru hiking the Appalachian Trail has never really been a dream of mine. It’s something I’ve thought about at times; however, I’ve always come back to my senses rather quickly when I examined the enormity of the task. There is no doubt that if my brother had not died, I wouldn’t be sitting in Maine the day before a planned summit of Katahdin. If Don were alive I would be Don’s brother. I would never have become Don’s Brother. It was only his illness and death that prompted this adventure.
Prior to March 23 I had not done any section hiking of the AT since 2009. On that last trip I stopped after about 25 miles of a scheduled 160 mile stretch with a sore back and no enthusiasm. I went home with a total of a little over 1000 miles of section hiking, vowing to never hike the trail again. I really didn’t like hiking that much. So as I sit here on the eve of a completed thru hike (provided I can get through the toughest day of the entire hike), I want to make one thing clear. I did this hike because I told my brother I was going to do it.
Today Molar Man agreed to start a little later with only 10 miles from north of the Abol Bridge to the Katahdin Stream Campground. When we did hit the trail at 7:30 we had an easy road walk for about a mile before the AT crossed Katahdin Stream and headed back into the woods. Other than the usual rocks, roots, and mud, nothing differed. The trail did remain relatively level until we reached the lower fork of the Nesowadnehunk Stream. After the recent rains, fording looked too treacherous, so Molar Man and I opted for the “high water level” trail around the lower and upper forks of the stream. I think my buddy would have attempted a difficult ford had I not urged him to follow the safer route.
A little later we walked up a side trail to Big Niagara Falls, a pretty impressive cataract I must admit. After a short break we followed the same path back to the white blazes for an extremely agreeable walk the rest of the way. At the Daicey Pond Trail parking area, some couples and their small children were headed up the trail toward the falls. From there we crossed Perimeter Rd. before the AT followed another short road to where it turns back into the woods. That, however, will be where we begin tomorrow.
Before leaving Baxter we visited the ranger station to fill out our paperwork for tomorrow’s summit. The ranger also gave Molar Man and me a form to fill out and mail to the ATC headquarters in Harper’s Ferry documenting our completed hikes. We next drove back to Millinocket, had lunch, and returned to the motel where we saw Goose and All the Way, who finished yesterday. I got a much needed nap and am about to go out for supper. Then tomorrow I will be confronted with the most challenging day thus far, as I try to wrap up my thru hike on the Appalachian Trail.