Day 153 – Tuesday, August 9th: The Birches Lean-to to Mount Katahdin, 5.2 miles, 2,189.1 total AT miles.

We woke up rather late considering today was the day we had been working towards for nearly five months. We took our time packing up – I visited the privy twice. We were on our way to summit Katahdin at 7:00am – the other hikers we saw tenting last night were nowhere in sight.

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We passed the ranger station and started heading up the trail, signing in at a trail register along the way.

The trail started easy enough, passing crystal clear streams and beautiful waterfalls on the way up.

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We emerged above treeline at 9:45am – we had been gaining serious elevation all morning. There was a lot of hand-over-hand climbing. As we got higher, the winds picked up. Did I mention Greyhound and I refused to check our backpacks at the ranger station? We were carrying full loads up this steep mountain. I would have had it no other way. I carried my pack every step of the way from Springer on – why stop now?

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We cleared The Gateway at 10:15pm and got our first view of Baxter Peak, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.

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Greyhound and I were giddy. In a few short hours we’d be thru-hikers. As the summit drew near, I started crying. I’d be reminiscing about a memorable hike or great day on the AT, and tears would just start rolling down my face. I thought about all of the people I had met along the way. I thought about Black Santa – I thought about Savage.

At last, you could see it. The summit, and the approach leading up to the summit, was very crowded with day hikers. I was shaking in anticipation.

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At 11:29, I became a thru-hiker of the Appalachian Trail.

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Greyhound and I did it. I pulled out that stupid horseshoe I tripped over in Manchester Center, VT to commemorate the event.

We sat behind a boulder on the summit for a while, talking and sporadically bursting into tears. I don’t have the words to describe how I felt – I hope someday I will.

We slowly made our way down the mountain, joking the entire time that we were now hiking unofficial miles. Where was our gondola that took us to lobster dinners at the bottom? We made our way back to the ranger station at 3:30pm and signed the register indicating we were off the mountain.

We were done.

After catching a ride into Millinocket, ME and checking in at the A.T. Lodge, we showered and made our way to the best restaurant in town. We split a lobster dinner. We deserved it.

Author: Chris Kummer

Hey y'all - Cool Dad here. Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to thru-hike the AT. It remained a nagging thought for nearly a decade - then it got loud enough to warrant my attention. So I quit my unfulfilling job(s) in Seattle and commenced hiking north from Springer in the spring of 2016. And I'm exceedingly thankful I did. The people I met, the things I saw, the gross foods I ate - not a day goes by without fondly remembering life on the trail. If you've already thru-hiked a long trail, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you're thinking about tackling a long-distance hike, do it. Do it now. I'm probably gonna do it again...

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