It’s 6 September 2022, the day before our planned summit of Mt. Katahdin, and finish of our 2022 through hike. 2200+ miles of hiking and learning.
We are HERE!! I am currently waiting for Jake to arrive/hike in to the Katahdin stream campsite. We are in Lean to number 8, right next to the stream. Thanks to a fellow through hiker and our friend “Chirp”, we were able to buy a couple of her reserved days!! There is a brand new privy next door to us, a fire ring and a picnic table. The air around here is full of electricity. You can feel the hum of anticipation from the hikers getting ready to finish their AT NOBO Journey!
I just met another support wife in the lean to next to us. Her name is “Scooter” and her husband is “Dreamer”. Dreamer completed a Thru hike in 2006 and is now completing a final section hike for his second go round of the AT! She says he told her, “he’s done with hiking!” She laughed and said, “we’ll see. He always says that after these long days…”.
For us it has taken just over 5-months to complete. 5-months and 10-days to be exact. I know in speaking with my husband, that it is a bittersweet ending. And if you would have asked me just a week ago, i would have said “i can’t wait to finish this fucking thing and go home!” But the truth is, I’m a little sad. It’s like a “little death” to be finished. I might think differently tomorrow as I’m hiking up the Hunt Trail with Jake…but in this moment of reflection it has been one hell of an adventure. Something we did all on our own, together, helping each other along the way.
I was Chief Logistics Officer and Jake was the Field Specialist for “our” NOBO AT Thru-hike. Both jobs are equally important to get us over the finish line. I know people who have not done this or any other long distance hike won’t understand it, but hiking 15-20 miles daily, EVERY day is a tremendous effort. You aren’t just hiking. You are carrying a 30-lb backpack, setting up and breaking down camp every day. Having to plan for supplies. And in our case, daily meet up points which proves very challenging at times. I will address this now, my husband rarely “slack packed”. He could have every day with the exception of a few areas that required multi-days without meet ups. I will discuss that later.
But here I am, soon to be “we are”, almost to the finish. I had many doubts along the way. Not doubts about finishing, but doubts about why we, he… I am doing this. My “I” started as “for him”. I wanted to ensure my husband realized his goal and was able to finish, and I wanted to be there with him. Wanted to see his face, hold his hand and give him a hug!
What started as casual meet ups along the way for resupply, turned in to daily meet ups for dinner, breakfast and sometimes a quick trail lunch with an ice cold coke! Reflecting back, as I sit at the campsite, it’s mostly fond memories but, there were dark days of resentment, disappointment, and fear. I laugh as i think about hikers i have met along the way that said they wanted to get away from life and just have a “time out” for themselves. Life does not give time outs. The AT is a microcosm of life. It’s full of beauty, love, accomplishments, amazing people, and it’s full of disappointment, resentment, fear, hunger, coldness, injury, sickness and even death…all of those “things” that make us feel. All of those “things” that make us uniquely human.
A gentle chill captures my attention and snaps me out of my recollective meditation. Looking up from the picnic table, i see my husband down the trail. A smile flashes across his face and as he raises his trekking poles, a familiar warmth fills my heart. I am so gosh darn proud of this man! I feel so lucky to be able to be here right now. Tomorrow is our summit day. But for now, I’m going to put down my pen and give my guy a big hug!
*note: if you are planning to support a long distance hiker, i highly recommend the Luno car mattress!