Day 139. Reflection Day, more accurately.
Today was a typical town zero day, except for one thing. Everyone here was very aware of, and conscious of, it being our last town stop before finishing. There is still the town of Millinocket at the end, but when you get there your hike is over. Your thruhike is over. You are no longer a thruhiker. You are just a normal person again, day-hiking in Baxter State Park, and figuring out how to get home.
That weighs heavily on all of us out here. We still have 114.5 miles left, and at least 5 days in the woods, but the magic of the journey is coming to an end. The reality of it being behind us now all too real. We hiked up Springer Mountain, the Smoky Mountains, the Green Mountains, and the White Mountains. We traversed the Roan Highlands, Shenandoah, and Rocksylvania. We visited Fontana Dam, Hot Springs, Damascus, Harpers Ferry, Duncannon, Delaware Water Gap, Fort Montgomery, and Hanover. We crossed the Potomac, Hudson, Delaware, Connecticut and Kennebec Rivers. We walked for over 2,000 miles through 14 states.
And now we are at the end.
The destination is vey real now and the allure of this experience that we have spent weeks, months, years or lifetimes preparing for is at its conclusion. Because of that, there was a lot of chatter around the hostel today about what’s next. People booking plane tickets, scheduling job interviews, coordinating family meet ups, etc. The real world is quite literally waiting for us on the other side of this 100-mile wilderness, and there’s no avoiding the impending entrance back to our former lives. We’ll be different of course, but the rest of our world won’t have changed as much alongside us.
Because of those creeping thoughts, the typical eagerness and excitement to get moving was muted. None of us really have any reason to rush out the door and get on to the trail, and so few people did. Almost everyone took a zero day here in Monson … if for no other reason than to savor as much time in this alternate universe life we’ve been granted these past 5 months that we can. And to hold on to it for just one day longer.
We watched a movie, walked around town, ate (a lot), took naps, resupplied food, packed up gear, sat around a bonfire, and did all the normal hiker things … just a step slower than usual. Wait, what? This is my last resupply?! I better go to all 3 stores in Monson and make sure I get exactly what I want for my meals.
All that being said, we want to cross that finish line. We want to get there and triumphantly pose at the sign atop Katahdin for photos, to celebrate in Millinocket with friends, and to close out the last chapter of this book.
I’ve spent the better part of 18 years planning, outfitting and preparing for this hike. It has been the only item on my bucket list for as long as I’ve had a bucket list. I read countless books, journals, testimonials, and articles about the Appalachian Trail. I watched movies, documentaries, and YouTube channels of past hikes. I planned out every day I would have when I get out there myself, and I have now lived 95% of that dream to its fullest. I am ready to walk into the woods one final time and come out at the base of my goal. I am ready to have my amazing experience come to and end, and I am ready to finish my thruhike of the Appalachian Trail.
Side note, these thoughts may all be in my head and shared by no one else here, but I somehow doubt it’s just me…
Hello Neiman (Sharkbait)!
- Start Mile: 2076.4
- Start Time: 00:00
- End Mile: 2076.4
- End Time: 00:00
- Miles Hiked: 0.0
- Miles to Go: 114.5
- Lodging: Shaw’s Hiker Hostel