AT week 8, we've done it!
We got a lift from the Shaw's hiker hostel people to the trail head. Shaw's were a great place to stay except for the bed... Who would have thought that to have a good hostel you would need good beds. The bed we had will be familiar to those of you that have ever seen a Western movie where the good guy bursts in to the villains room at the hotel while he's in bed with a busty wench, shoot out = dead villain. It's that bed! The old steel frame number on little castor wheels. It squeaks. I could make it squeak by lying down and just breathing.. Shaw's have lots more beds than just this one so I am sure most other people slept well and were able to hike normally that day. Boo hoo lucky them!
So we are now in the 100 mile wilderness. When I think of wilderness I think of someplace in Fiordland. No tracks or roads. In hiking terms it's more like no resupply. The trail has to navigate around several ponds and lakes, so it has some twists and turns. The first few days were like the rest of the trail so far. Hills and mountains. We received our resupply drop at Jo-Mary Road, around 60 miles in. It's a service we paid for provided by Shaw's. It's pretty good, but expensive. We arranged to split the cost with another hiker, Fescue, so it was a little cheaper. The cold soda was a great treat at 9am, so was the warm Budweiser! We then had 4 days food to carry but we had several places to visit along the way this next 40 miles. The great thing was it had stopped raining for the first time in 3 days and we were able to dry out some.
When we got in range we texted the owner of a camp called 'Whitehouse Landing'. It's what they call a traditional Maine 'sportsman camp'. We did a bit of a shortish day to stay here. I think 13 or so miles. The 'camp' bit is just what they call a bush get away in these parts. You might have heard of Camp David where Obama has other world leaders for talks. Now they don't sit around a fire pit and retire to a squeaky blowup mattress I can tell you. But Camp Whitehouse Landing was not too bad though. We were picked up by boat after a 15 minute side trail walk. No power or plumbing but it had been around for near on 100 years in one shape or another. The first building on the site was the saw mill owners house, nicknamed the Whitehouse. The mill and land was sold to a paper company around 1910 and last year they felled the trees around the camp. The owners were not too happy to lose a forest of 100 year old trees. I don't blame them. The sunset from our porch was amazing! We stayed with Fescue and Lieut. Dan, so had a nice dinner and drinks with them that night. We also had a pretty good breakfast and then back on the boat for a quite 15 mile day...
Our next stop was to be the last 'town' we would stay at. I use the term town loosely though. Abol Bridge was just a camp ground and general store at the base of Mt Katahdin and most AT hikers will stop here for a night or a burger before the big climb. We stayed at the camp ground and shared a bunk room with Fescue. The camp ground water pumps stopped working the next morning. By 7:15 I think everyone in the camp has used the 'bathroom' but still no flush. OMG time to head for the trail I think!!
The trails in this part really have reminded us of New Zealand. Largely as we have been following rivers and streams, but also because of the moss. It's a carpet of green over most of the forest floor. We have had to cross a few rivers in these parts too, just like New Zealand! Our friend Fescue crossed a river after us and as is common took off his shoes to cross. As is not common, he threw his shoes to the other bank and wouldn't you know it the one with the socks in hit the only branch on the other side which catapults it into the knee deep river. After a long bare foot chase down the river, it was lost. He found an old boot to use to climb to the top of Mt Katahdin and won't be doing that again...
So, it was all leading up to this.. Our final day on the trail. We were pretty nervous for some reason. It had taken a while to get here. We set off at 6:30.. We were up at 5am for like the first time ever! It was a beautiful day! Some clouds and wind but we could see forever. The walk up was not as hard as we were expecting and all the hype we had heard for all those years really was just for the day walkers. Before we knew it, we were looking at the sign 50 metres away. People were everywhere around the sign taking photos and milling around it. We decided to make a bee line for the cairn that marks the summit. Then we were there! One second we were hiking the Appalachian Trail, the next second we were not. We had been dreaming of this moment and we had made it. We both had a few tears up there just sitting and not saying too much. We let it sink in and watched the other hikers that were in the same or similar situations to us. It was a powerful moment for us. We then hugged each other, thanked each other for the totally best holiday one could ever have and made our way to the sign for the photo!
This was also a moment I had been worrying about. 7 + months of walking and I had to trust some stranger to take the most important photo of the trip. The start photo at Springer Mountain was taken by some twit that didn't focus properly (it was an old film camera so I guess I can let them off) so I wanted a better photo than the start one. So I told him to keep taking them... Success! At least 1 was good and some are just great!
So, it is over! Yes, it's the best trip you can take on your own feet and yes, it can be walked by anyone as long as they are prepared for some pain and discomfort. They also have to be prepared to have the time of their lives and meet some of the best humans living today, AT hikers!
Thanks to all our supporters that believed in us and helped us along the way. We owe you!
26/8/2016 01:08:23 am
So very proud of you both. Loved reading this last piece. Will try to make your time in TN whatever you want it to be? Comforts of home or cabin, which has a pretty good bed and a hot shower. Not really ruffling it much!
29/8/2016 12:37:36 pm
Well done Dave and Christine!! Enjoyed the blog and photos.
30/8/2016 03:06:29 am
This must be a great feeling having finished the hole track. What is next :-D
4/11/2016 01:16:26 pm
Whoohoo, well done – so pleased you got to finish the AT Chris. You have made your dreams your reality, the future is yours to hold.
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it's Our Epic Trip...
David & Christine are from New Zealand and are embarking on a trip around the world the slow way, on foot and by personal vehicle. This could get interesting!