Katahdin

Katahdin

Katahdin


The 100 hundred mile wilderness. Many of those that hear of it become slightly intimidated. It seems to be a place that is distant, vast, wild and dangerous. There is a cloud of mystery that surrounds this section of trail. It is intriguing how much us thru-hikers talked about it as we approached it in the past weeks. This was the final exam for all of us before summiting Katahdin, the last mountain. Hiking through the wilderness we discovered that there was nothing too difficult about it. It consisted of more of the same terrain that we had been hiking on: rocks, tons of roots and plenty of nasty black mud. Us guys hike this distance all the time between resupplies. Go into a town, resupply, hike 80-100 miles and get into the next town. That was basically my life for the past 6 months.

I fondly remember our conversations in the wilderness. It mainly consisted of food. The closer we zeroed in on Katahdin, the more we talked about all the different types of food everyone would eat once finished. I had this image burgers on my mind the last 2 days. BBQ pulled pork burger, cheese burgers with extra cheese… The promise of town food kept driving me onwards towards the finish.

Myself, Bear Juice, Blink

Myself, Bear Juice, Blink

Robin Hood and Cartwheel

Robin Hood and Cartwheel

It happened so that I was hiking with the Kallin Family, Bear Juice and Blink. There was no better company than those folks on my last stretch of trail. Loads of positive energy. Last time I saw the Kallins was several months ago in NJ. They took 2 weeks off and then caught up to me in the wilderness. I know what you are thinking, “The kids took 2 weeks off and still caught up to you?!” Well, my rebuttal is this, “I know, I suck.”

The second to last night I was climbing up the last small mountain: Rainbow ledges where everyone planned to camp. This is a small mountain with a beautiful view of Katahdin in the distance.

Katahdin view from Rainbow Ledges

Katahdin view from Rainbow Ledges


I was totally smoked by the end of the day. 23 mile day and I was rationing food like crazy. I destroyed my 15 lb food bag the first 4 days and so payed the cost on days 5-6. Anyways, when I got to the summit Blink yelled out “Spiderman! Berries! They’re everywhere!!!” Sure enough berries as far as the eye could see. I have never seen these kind of berries before. “What are they?” I asked. Blink: “I have no idea but they taste amazing!” Well, I did what anyone else with common sense would do; drop my backpack, plop down next to a bush and start eating handfuls of these mysteriously delicious berries. A thought did cross my mind, what if they are poisonous? To which I answered, “Who cares! At least I’ll die a happy man.” haha It’s funny what hunger will do to a man.
IMG_2350[1]

After what seemed like ages, Blink and I forced ourselves to stop eating and set up camp. A couple hikers told us later on that those were Huckleberries and totally safe to eat. I have no idea why they are not sold in grocery stores. They taste many times better than blueberries.
IMG_2330[1]
IMG_2349[1]
The next day we hiked into Baxter State park. We registered as Thru-hikers and set up camp in an area specifically designated for us hikers. It was so much fun hanging out with everyone on the last night. We built a fire (the first one in months) and sat around sharing funny stories late into the night. It was funny talking about the trail: funny moments, scary ones, embarrassing stories…

After a few hours of sleep everyone was out of camp and hiking up the mountain by 5am. We were told that there was a rainstorm moving in that afternoon so everyone was hustling up the mountain. I kicked it into overdrive because of this:

Incoming rainstorm

Incoming rainstorm


IMG_2383[1]

The rainstorm was moving in on me so I flew up the 5 mile climb in 2 hours 10 min. But, I didn’t make it in time. Freezing cold wind/rain hit me as I got close to the summit. And then I saw it, the legendary sign! The sign was probably the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen! I’ve only seen pictures of it and now I finally got a chance to physically touch it!
IMG_2389[1]
People asked if I cried when I saw the sign. Nope. Way too cold to cry. I was completely soaked by freezing rain and was trembling pretty bad from the cold- totally worth it!
IMG_2442[1]
I simply can’t convey my thoughts and feelings very well about my finish on paper. Laughter/happiness/smiles/hugs, all of these things were experienced on Katahdin.

1

I am glad I hiked the AT. It has made me a better man physically, mentally and spiritually. This was a walk-about that I needed in order to grow and improve on many different levels. Would I ever do it again? Nope. Once is enough. This endeavor was life changing in a positive way. I’ve recieved much from people and my experiences on the Appalachian Trail and am now ready to give back to others. Many thanks to all those that supported me, sent me letters of encouragement and care packages. I am truly blessed to have so many wonderful friends and family in my life.

me

Before

Before

After

After (with my little cousin)

Chuck Norris hiked the whole AT without ever taking one step!

Chuck Norris hiked the whole AT without ever taking one step!

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Katahdin

  1. Hey Spidey!
    First of all, a HUGE congratulations on making it through the AT. Even in the single week that I spent on the trail, there were times when it felt like a living hell (if Satan’s preferred methods of torture are a combination of biting cold, starvation, and foot pain). How you withstood 6 months of that while staying so cheerful is something I’ll always admire.
    I don’t know if you’ll remember me, but I was the guy you generously carried the pack for when my achilles tendon flared up near the end of March. I was actually planning on sending you a care package today, but when I checked out your blog I saw that you had already finished your journey! Oops. I guess I should have done it earlier.
    I actually feel pretty bad that I missed the chance to help you out, and Isabelle and I really were planning on sending something, but… life got in the way and we never got around to doing it. I just hope it’s a comfort to you that somewhere in the University of Chicago, two people smile at the thought of your kindness.
    As I’m reading through your blog, I have to tell you, your writing is stellar! Watching you describe the AT brings back all these buried memories about that long week. I still eat Nutella straight up out of the jar.
    This might be five and a half months late, but I just want you to know I’m really glad to have met someone like you Spidey, and though you won’t need it, I wish you the best of luck on your Post-AT life!

    • Triangle!!! So awesome to hear from you buddy! So glad you made it on time for school. It was a privilege to have met you and Isabelle. Thanks for wanting to send a care package but don’t worry about it. “Pay it forward”. What I mean by that is you don’t need to help me in return. Simply help out anyone you may cross paths with that may need your assistance. The world becomes a better place when people live by that motto. Best of luck to you guys in school. By the way, you should totally hike the AT one of these days đŸ˜‰

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s