New Hampshire border to Katahdin

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The journal of Andy Linger ... thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in 1997

Back to September 6

September 7—Gentian Pond Shelter (Day 148 ~ milepoint 1872.9)
After breakfast this morning, All-the-Way, Popo Cat adn I headed back to the trail and headed on. The weather was cloudy again with on and off light rain. We reached the shelter and met up with southbounder LSD and flip-flopper Yahoola. It started to rain that night, so tomorrow should be interesting with the mud and wet rocks. I'm glad to be out of the Whites now, which brought lousy weather and terrain. The trail was nothing but large boulders and rocks from the soils washed out because of the incredible amount of use the area receives. It was a neat experience being above timberline on the trail, and staying at some of the huts, but it's time to move on.—Andy

September 8—Full Goose Shelter (Day 149 ~ milepoint 1882.7)
No Maine! I can't believe I'm here - 13 states done, one to go. I've been hearing about this state since well before I started, and now I'm actually here. What a great feeling. This morning the weather was a mix of sun and clouds. Atop Goose Eye Mountain, the sights revealed several peaks covered in clouds and ribbons of sunlight dancing across the valleys below. Tomorrow it's the Notch.—Andy

September 9—Baldpate Lean-to (Day 150 ~ milepoint 1894.9)
A couple hours after leaving the shelter this morning, I reached the infamous Mahoosuc Notch. The mile long stretch through the Notch is covered with house-sized boulders that hikers need to climb over, under, and squirm around. As I started through, another hiker in front of me performed a lose-control-slide-down-the-steep-rock-fall-backwards-land-on-the-pack- wipeout. He struggled like a turtle on its back trying to get up, and eventually took his pack off and threw it up over the rocks. The acrobatic maneuvers through the terrain was exhausting, but fun. I somehow found a way to get through the Notch without taking my pack off and started my way up to Speck Mountain. After the long climb, I made it to the top of Speck Mountain. During the descent, the clouds rolled in and I saw the summit disappear. I arrived at the shelter to meet All-the-Way and Popo Cat. As we went to sleep, the rains started and the temperatures dropped.—Andy

September 10—Andover Guest House (Day 151 ~ milepoint 1902.9)
This morning there was heavy fog covering the area, making it difficult to motivate myself. On my down the side trail to the AT, I was startled when I saw a huge object appearing through the fog. I could hear footsteps and hear grunting. Suddenly I saw a gigantic horse-sized object running away from me. It was a cow moose. I continued down the trail and saw another - this time a bull. The antlers were gigantic. I inched my way forward and grabbed my camera. I got to within several feet and made calm, smooth movements to avoid startling it. Finally, it darted away, thrashing through the brush. It was a great sight, seeing my first moose. It livened my enthusiasm after almost a month of dull grey weather that has dampened the spirits of many hikers. The exposed summit of Baldpate Mountain had a steep descent that reminded me of New Hampshire - slick rocks and slow going. I reached the small road crossing that leads to Andover. Often it can take almost an hour to see a car heading down the road. Within ten minutes I was fortunate enough to find a motorist eager to give me a ride into town. I stayed at the Andover Guest House that night. For $12 I had my laundry done, stayed in the hiker bunkroom which was built just recently, and watched action movies all night with the four southbounders and our host, Richard.—Andy

September 11—Andover Guest House (Day 152 ~ milepoint 1913.0)
Today I found a ride back to the trail and headed on. My original plan today was to spend the night at Hall Mtn. Lean-to. I met up with three slackpackers who were planning on going back into Andover. I was hooked. They had their truck at the next road crossing. The near vertical climb to the summit of Moody Mountain provided spectacular views of only fog, and the trees dripping with humidity made the trail slick. During the steep descent in the slick mud, one of my hiking sticks snapped in half. My boots suddently lost traction and I started a 20 foot slide down the trail. it was actually kind of fund. I felt like I was skiing. The only problem was that it took a tree to stop me to a grinding halt. I got a ride back to Andover thanks to North Carolina, Weathercane and Bobby Bass and we enjoyed another night of cheezy action movies.—Andy

September 12—Benis Mountain Lean-to (Day 153 ~ milepoint 1921.7)
This morning it was foggy and dreary again. Four hikers decided to stay another night, and I was very tempted to, but I know wouldn't be able to do another work-for-stay, and tomorrow is supposed to be lousy too. I got a ride back to the trail and began my ascent up Old Blue Mtn. When I arrived at the summit, the sun would occasionally light up the fog, so I had lunch up there hoping the fog would burn off. After over an hour, no luck so I headed on. As I approached the summit of Bemis Mountain, a thunderstorm cell started roaring through. As I reached the tree-covered summit, the rain stopped and the fog dissipated during the descent. The sky eventually cleared for a few hours, giving me one stupid view today. I could see Rangeley Lake off in the distance with more clouds covering the horizon. I reached the shelter to find no one else there except a chipmunk scurring around the firepit. Hopefully I can get to sleep early to make up for the last couple of nights.—Andy

September 13—Sabbath Day Pond Lean-to (Day 154 ~ milepoint 1930.0)
This morning when I woke up I was greeted to the sound of thunder. I stayed in my sleeping bag for several more hours, hoping the midday sun would burn off some of the fog and clouds. By early afternoon, it did. Unfortunately I already descended off the North Peak of Bemis Mtn. in the fog. My only view today was from a highway above the valley. I could see Bemis Mountain from here with the mighty summit visible. The rest of the day was a mix of clouds, sun, and thunder - but at least no rain.—Andy

September 14—Piazza Rock Lean-to (Day 155 ~ milepoint 1941.3)
Around noon today the clouds dissipated and the fog burned off. The hike today looped around ponds and through thick mud. I was provided with an inspiring view of Saddleback Mountain, which I would climb tomorrow. The idea of night hiking popped into my mind since tomorrow could be socked in, and this is the last full moon I'll see on the trail. I hitched into Rangeley, dubbed as "the town halfway between the North Pole and equator", to resupply, pound down a half gallon of ice cream for a 2,500 calorie boost, made phone calls, and hitched back to the trail four hours later (incidently from the same woman who took me into town). I arrived at Piazza Rock Shelter at dusk and started to have second thoughts about night hiking. It was later than I planned, so I would need a flashlight to get to timberline - all I had was a penlight. Even though the southbounders I talked to said the terrain wasn't steep or too rocky getting up there, but I decided to play it safe and spent the night at the shelter.—Andy

September 15—Poplar Ridge Lean-to (Day 156 ~ milepoint 1950.2)
Last night the moon was shining bright and proud, making me wish I didn't spend so much time in town so I could have hiked last night. It was clear this morning, setting me in a good mood. I left the shelter early this morning and started my climb up Saddleback Mtn. About a mile from timberline I saw fog rolling over the mountain and my enjoyable hike and bright outlook towards today went to hell. As I continued on, all I could think about were negative thoughts racing around my mind. For the next mile, all I could think about were the miserable day-after-day-hiking-in-fog experiences I had. Right before I reached timberline, I decided to wait all morning and afternoon if I had to for the fog to lift. As I write this journal hours later, magic starts to happen. The trees stop dripping with condensation from the fog, and the fog lifts to reveal the valley below. When I reached timberline, I saw a moose dart off the trail into the brush. I was pretty surprised to see one at this elevation during the day. When I reached the summit of Saddleback, fog blew in and out, so I waited it out behind a rock wind screen for about an hour. The fog finally disappeared for the day and I headed on. I spent the night at Poplar Ridge Lean-to wtih two other hikers after a great day.—Andy

September 16—Sugarloaf Mountain Summit Lodge (Day 157 ~ milepoint 1960.8)
Last night around 10:30, a group of about 10 or 12 youth hikers showed up. Getting to sleep wasn't easy because of all the noise they were making. However, we eventually got to sleep and got a good rest. Today the weather was looking good again. After reading pages and pages of shelter register entries of hikers distraught with the cloudy, rainy weather, it was nice to write something on a bright note. The highlight of the day came when I reached the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain on a side trail. The winds were howling around 30-40 mph after the climb to the treeless summit. I sought refuge in the ski area lodge with panoramic views in almost every direction. I could see almost forever. To the east, I could see the Atlantic, to the south I could see Mt. Washington, and to the North, one of those bumps out there was Katahdin. I went outside and went to the actual mountain summit a little ways from the lodge. I saw there for a good half hour gazing at everything around me. I was so excited to be on a mountain with views that weren't socked in clouds. As various body parts started to become numb from the cold and wind, I headed back to the lodge. The clouds started to thicken during the evening hours, dotting the surrounding landscape with sunlight. Three section hikers showed up, awed by the views but cold from the winds. As the temperatures dropped and we could start to see our breath, everyone crawled into their sleeping bags and called it a night. The winds were still howling, and we hoped tomorrow they would subside.—Andy

September 17—Stratton Motel Hostel (Day 158 ~ milepoint 1971.8)
I woke up this morning to watch sunrise light up the lodge and surrounding landscape. I looked at the wind gauge out the window and it wasn't moving. As I left the lodge, I expected a cold morning to start out with. Instead, as I headed to the summit for one last view, I was greeted with 50 degree temps and calm winds. I sat up at the summit admiring the clear skies and endless views again. I was still having trouble conceiving the fact that I hiked over 1900 miles to get here. I eventually descended off the summit back to the AT, and worked my way up and over the Crocker Mountains. During the long descent off the mountain, my thoughts were turning to town life. I was out of food, and my feet were starting to swell from the steep, rocky ascents and descents. Finally, I made it to the highway after a seemingly endless hike this afternoon. I hitched a ride into Stratton and checked into the hostel. Cosmic Ivy, Tadpole, and Will showed up that afternoon, and we rented a couple movies from the video store and stayed up half the night.—Andy

September 18—Myron H. Avery Campsite (Day 159 ~ milepoint 1979.8)
This morning started out cloudy with some rain last night but cleared during the day. I left town a little after noon after making some phone calls and picking up my mail drop that just arrived this morning. After the long climb up the side of Bigelow Mountain, I reached ridgeline where I could see Flagstaff Lake on the other side, and continued on towards Horns Pond. I arrived at the Horns Pond Lean-to, cooked dinner and headed on. I could see the sun setting as I climbed towards West Peak. As I reached the summit, the western horizon was glowing bright red, and across the valley above Sugarloaf, the wispy clouds were donned in pink. I braved the strong gusty winds in my t-shirt for a couple minutes to enjoy the sight. The descent down to Myron H. Avery Campsite became darker and darker as the sun continued to fall. When I arrived at the campsite, the skies were dark, and I had trouble spotting a place to drop my pad. I came upon the sign to the caretaker cabin and figured I could ask him if I already passed all the sites. The cabin was locked, and the caretaker gone for the season. I noticed a small shelf just wide enough to sleep on. Instead of running in circles trying to find a spot, or unknowingly tramply on plants, I threw my sleeping pad on the small porch and jumped in my bag before I froze.—Andy

September 19—Little Bigelow Lean-to (Day 160 ~ milepoint 1987.2)
Last night was full of shooting stars, satellites passing from one end of the horizon to the other, and moonlight. I woke up this morning to some overcast skies and more stiff winds, making it difficult to get up. The sky started to clear around 7 a.m., and I packed up and headed on. I reached the top of Avery Peak to see more great views and have some breakfast behind the old firetower to take shelter from the wind. I was hoping the pocket of clouds blocking the sun would clear out. I was eager to take a picture of the fall foliage at the base of Little Bigelow Mountain. It finally did, and then I worked my way towards the peak. I saw a moose dart off the side of the trail on my way up, hearing him thrash his way through the brush as I got closer. I reached the shelter a little after summiting Little Bigelow and decided to call it a day.—Andy

September 20—West Carry Pond Lean-to (Day 161 ~ milepoint 1994.5)
Last night a thunderstorm passed through, dropping heavy rains and deafening hail on the metal roof. After that it was occasional light rain throughout the night. This morning the rain subsided and I hit the trail after having the shelter to myself. The day was cloudy, foggy, and humid, but the terrain was relatively flat. I arrived at the shelter with Chris, who met up with me a couple miles before the shelter. The rain started up again a little after we arrived. Sue, who was out for a couple days with Chris, showed up a little later, and then came Mile High and Shaft, southbounders who arrived soaked from the rains. The five of us spent the evening taking bets on how cold it would be tonight and tomorrow.—Andy

September 21—Pierce Pond Lean-to (Day 162 ~ milepoint 2004.7)
Last night was indeed chilly - one of the coldest nights since Virginia. The winds were strong again this morning, and I left around 10:30 when the temperatures climbed into the 40's. The gentle, rolling terrain through the fall foliage made today another great day. I arrived at the shelter early in the afternoon after accomplishing a major feat - I reached the 2,000 mile mark today. It felt great to reach this point, and tomorrow I cross the Kennebec River. Big Bird, Solophile, and Mountain Laurel showed up later that day and decided to tent because of the near hurricane force winds blowing into the shelter.—Andy

September 22—Pleasant Pond Lean-to (Day 163 ~ milepoint 2014.4)
The highlight of today was the crossing of the Kennebec River. I've been hearing about it for over a year now, and today I finally did it. Because of the hydroelectric dam above, water can be released at any time, making the river potentially dangerous to cross. Because of this, a ferry service is offered to hikers. I originally was planning on fording the river, but with the 60 degree temps (getting swept downstream wouldn't be fun in this kind of weather) and Steve the Ferryman right there, I took the canoe. The river marked a milestone for me. The mountain ranges with climbs that took hours are now for the most part over (except for the occasional 1,000-2,000 foot "bump" - and of course the big "K"). From here on, it's the final stretch.—Andy

September 23—Bald Mountain Lean-to (Day 164 ~ milepoint 2023.2)
I awoke this morning to the calls of loons in the pond nearby. As I started the climb up Pleasant Mountain right after leaving the shelter, it started to drizzle. As the day went on, the rain steadily increased until I reached the shelter. Then it was back to drizzle. I arrived just after noon and couldn't decided whether I wanted to stay or go on. Ideally, I would have liked to camp near the summit of Moxie Bald (southbounders tell me it's the place to be). Not having a tent or luck with the skies, I decided to stay. It's only 4.3 miles to the next shelter, but why climb over a mountain if you can't enjoy it. As I write this at dusk, the skies are clearing. Tomorrow will hopefully be nice.—Andy

September 24—Camping somewhere???? (Day 165 ~ milepoint 2045.2)
The air was cold and crisp this morning when I woke up. The cold temperatures made it difficult to get out ofmy bag, but I knew I had to climb Moxie Bald which would warm me up. I met up with Big Bird, Solophile, and Mountain Laurel who were slackpacking their was into Monson. The summit of Moxie Bald was ice covered and very windy, however the 360 degree views were spectacular. Katahdin was visible again, still as a small bump, growing bigger as I near the monolith. We paused up there for a few minutes to take pictures and enjoy the pond filled valleys and mountain summits surrounding us. The next several miles took me through Horseshoe Canyon, which had several areas filled with granite cliffs jetting out of the river. The sun filtering through the trees lit up the rocks and flowed across the treetops, offering several miles of fine views. To get closer to Monson so I could take tomorrow off, I did my biggest day since Vermont. A little over 20 miles, the sun already set adn I found a spot less than half a mile from the highway. Today was probably my most enjoyable day in Maine so far. The weather was coold (it's certainly starting to feel like fall now) and the hike along the river was the highlight of the day. I threw my sleeping pad on an old overgrown jeep road and called it a night.—Andy

September 25—Shaw's Boarding House; Monson, ME (Day 166 ~ milepoint 2045.5)
Last night I had my first scare with the weather. I was awakened late by light rain that fell on me for a couple minutes. I threw my pack cover on, put my ground cloth over me, and hoped I wouldn't get soaked tonight. Fortunately by morning the skies were clearing and I only had one more brief encounter with the rain. I headed on to the highway and hitched into town. My stop for the night was Shaw's, which has taken in over 20,000 hikers over the last twenty years. The all-you-can-eat dinner was fabulous, and the place was packed with over twenty hikers - some who I haven't seen in several days, and others I haven't seen in several months. For some reason I feel somewhat lousy today. Maybe I'm having a food hangover from all the turkey, potatoes, meatloaf, and brownies I shoved down. Tomorrow I enter the 100 Mile Wilderness.—Andy

September 26—Long Pond Stream Lean-to (Day 167 ~ milepoint 2060.8)
After my 2 hours of sleep last night from all the noise, I was up at 6 a.m. for breakfast. I struggled to put down 6 eggs, 6 sausage links, 6 Frenchtoasts, 6 glasses of orange juice, and a huge pile of potatoes. To avoid being "fined" by Keith Shaw for leaving leftovers, I left a clean plate after a long time at the table. I took the shuttle back to the trail and entered the 100 Mile Wilderness. It wasn't my best of days - the lack of sleep, a gigantic food bag, and an overly full stomach made today tough. I also had my first river fording today. I was with Mountain Laurel and Forrest Fire, so we switched cameras to take some "action photos". It was more fun than I expected. At first I wasn't looking forward to getting half my body wet in 50 degree temps and ice cold water. After the initial shock of putting my feet in, the rest was easy. I arrived at Long Pond Stream Lean-to and met Sal and B.S.U.R. who were also in from Shaws (tonight was only the second time in 10 days I didn't have a shelter to myself). We realized that this point markes the final stretch to Katahdin - 99.5 miles!—Andy

September 27—Chairback Gap Lean-to (Day 168 ~ milepoint 2071.7)
Today involved climbing up and down several mountains including Barren Mountain - which was the highlight of the day. A little before the summit I stopped at Barren Slides for a breakfast break. The views included 180 degrees of ponds, mountains, and wetlands with most of the trees glowing several different colors as the peak season of fall foliage arrives. I arrived at Chairback Gap Lean-to that night to meet Screaming Al. After dusk, Steady Freddy, Bulldog, and two section hikers showed up, to make tonight the first full shelter I've stayed at since...Vermont.—Andy

September 28—Sidney Tappan Campsite (Day 169 ~ milepoint 2083.3)
I hit the trail at 7 a.m. today under more blue skies and cool temps. After fording the Pleasant River and seeing two more moose, I soon arrived at the Gulf Hagas side trail. The Gulf Hagas is dubbed "The Grand Canyon of the East" with slate walls dropping 500 feet to the chasm below. The Rim Trail was filled with small side trails to viewpoints such as "The Jaws", "Screw Auger Falls", and "Hammond Street Pitch". My favorites were probably the unnamed viewpoints which offered views of the slate walls and water rushing far below instead. The several mile loop trail was well worth the extra time, although the climbs over the roots and vertical rock walls was starting to test my mental limits. After asking some dayhikers the forecast for tonight, I decided to push an extra couple miles to the campsite and sleep under the stars. Steady Freddy and Screaming Al were there, and all of us are looking forward to getting our last big climb over with tomorrow.—Andy

September 29—East Branch Lean-to (Day 170 ~ milepoint 2092.9)
I woke up this morning to clouds and fog which rolled in early last night. I became a little nervous as I saw the stars completely disappear as I went to sleep. Fortunately I didn't get rained on, and this morning I headed up towards White Cap Mountain. The strong winds never died down from yesterday, and on the summit I felt like I was on Mt. Washington. The winds were blowing over 50 mph with dense fog and I had to use my walking sticks to keep myself from being blown over. Shortly after I started the descent, the onand off rain changed to a steady heavy rain. I arrived at the shelter early in the day and after checking the place out, I decided to call it a day. Later that afternoon several other hikers pulled in, including the Gas Company (their frequent aromas almost caused a shelter evacuation), Hoots, and Far From Pukin.—Andy

September 30—Antler's Campsite (Day 171 ~ milepoint 2108.4)
This morning we looked at the skies to find blue one minute, and threatening clouds the next. Everyone eventually found the will to leave, and worked our way towards the big "K". A few miles into the hike, I came to a logging road and found everyone from last night here along with Lone Wolf and his truck. He came to deliver some trail magic and offered to slackpack people to the next road while we were pounding down some sandwiches he gave us. As we sat there stuffing our faces, we started to hear a faint rumbling sound. We could hear the sound become louder and louder until all of the sudden we see a gigantic logging truck barreling down the narrow one lane road at 40 miles per hour. We all dart into the woods hoping the truck doesn't take us or Lone Wolf's truck out. As it went by, it took out several branches and filled the air with dust. The adrenaline rush we got helped us hit the trail hooping and hollering. I hadn't slackpacked yet, and I had no desire to, so the next six miles I struggled to keep up with the Gas Co. and their four mile an hour pace (I haven't done this since Pennsylvania). We arrived at the Cooper Brook Falls Lean-to and my pack was too much to continue on at that pace. I stayed for a few minutes and then continued my way to Jo-Mary Road. At the road crossing, I cound Mountain Laurel's parents, and they gave me my food maildrop and provided us hikers with a pickup truck full of lunch meats, fruits, veggies, and desserts. The rest of the crew took off, doing a 24 mile slackpack and then going to party with Lone Wolf. I would have loved to go with them, but as Wingfoot puts it, this part of the trail is the "climax of my odessy". Many hikers were eager to finish up and escape the rains, mud, roots and cold weather (yes, I'm starting to get to that point too) of Maine, however I wanted to really enjoy this last section. After packing up with way too much food, I was the last one still there and headed on. As I hiked along the river, it just s
tarted to hit me about how close I was to actually finishing. My thoughts quickly changed and I started looking back at the last five months. I'm amazed by the diversity of people and terrain that I have seen during my trek, and still have trouble realizing that Katahdin is so close. My thoughts were quickly interrupted when I started seeing a dozen or so signs strewn along the trail encouraging hikers to stop by for free food. When I arrived at the entrance to the campsite, I sat there for a couple of minutes and then headed on, knowing I already have too much food to stop for more. When I came up to the privy, I decided to take the trail to the campsite and check the place out. I was overwhelmed. Moose and Two Winds were there, and they gave me a "tour" of the food table and threw a hamburger in my face (they've been there for over two days now). This was the absolute worst thing I wanted right now. I was still stuffed from the food Tom and Ruth fed me at the road, now it's this (this is supposed to be a "100 Mile Wilderness"?). The weather was warm, and I found it very difficult to leave. I ended up staying the night. That evening Two Winds and I took the canoe out and paddled across the lake to see if we could see the big "K". As we passed the ridge that blocked the view, the huge monolith shrouded in clouds started to come into view. We paddled to shore and let out a couple screams (we could hear the echos travel around the lake for almost ten seconds). We headed back and started to help prepare the chicken and pork Cat and Alex (the "hosts") brought in for us. For dessert, we had brownie pie and polished off all the perishable leftovers on the table. There was on and off drizzle this evening, so I crashed under the "circus tent".—Andy

October 1—Polywadjo Spring Lean-to (Day 172 ~ milepoint 2111.9)
I got up to the clanking of pots and sizzling of bacon today. We all stuffed ourselves with eggs, bacon, pineapple biscuit pit and I can't even remember what else. The day was not quite as nice as yesterday with a stiff northwest wind making the weather colder as the day went on. The thirteen mile day I had planned on disappeared from my mind as we continued to chow on food sitting on the table. A brief sprinkle came through the area, and as is passed over the lake, a double rainbow started glowing before our eyes. Beyond that, the sun was shining on the other end of the lake. The organizers of the event - Cat and Alex - came back a little later in the day with packs stuffed full of more food and supplies. It was almost three o'clock, and I knew if I didn't leave now, I'd probably get sucked in another night. Three and a half miles later, I arrived at the next lean-to to find Sedona, Solophile, and Texas Tapeworm there recovering from the hike overstuffed with food. It was on and off light rain that night, and we were hoping tomorrow wouldn't be the same.—Andy

October 2—Rainbow Stream Lean-to (Day 173 ~ milepoint 2130.1)
The highlight of today was seeing Katahdin from the top of the mountain. As I hiked down the short side trail from the summit, a gigantic snowcapped mountain buried in clouds suddenly appeared before my eyes. It was a great sight - especially since I hiked over 2,000 miles to climb it. Surrounding the mountain I was on were trees dotted in fall colors stretching across the horizon. I spent quite a while up there admiring the views even though it was cloudy out and then headed on.—Andy

October 3—Hurd Brook Lean-to (Day 174 ~ Mile 2141.5)
This morning I hesitated to leave as the clouds rolled in after a clear night. A little before climbing Rainbow Ledges, gigantic towering white pines appeared before me. I stopped several times to gaze at the branchless trunks of these majestic trees that thrust skyward several dozen feet. I headed up Rainbow Ledges eagerly awaiting another view of the big "K" I've heard so much about. On the far end of the hill, I noticed an opening off to the left. As I approached, I saw another view of Katahdin. This time I saw the summit for the first time. The sky was again cloudy and dull, but I'm finally looking at the top of the mountain I'm going to climb in two days. I reached the shelter and found a local there with some bad news. She reported the AT is closed above timberline through Sunday because of the snow and ice. My mind was now focused on Baxter State Park.—Andy

October 4—Katahdin Stream Campground (Day 175 ~ milepoint 2155.0)
This morning I was eager to reach the park that contained the big "K". The weather was foggy and overcast again, but when I left the 100 Mile Wilderness and crossed Abol Bridge it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was almost there. The trail ducked back into the woods and a few miles later I entered the park. When I arrived at Daicey Pond Campground, I was expecting to find a large group of thru hikers waiting for the weather to get better, but instead I didn't find any. I checked in at the ranger station and received more bad news about the weather. Trails were now closed through Sunday with the forecast calling for clouds and rain most of the week. At this point, I didn't really care. I was thrilled to be in the park, and as long as I summited by Thursday, I'd still make it to The Gathering. I threw my sleeping bag out in the lean-to near the campground to save a spot for the night. I was eager find out where everyone else was and decided to push on to Katahdin Stream Campground. I packed up my sleeping bag and headed on. I jogged the next 2.3 miles in a half an hour, extremely eager to reach Katahdin Stream and finish all but the most magnificent five miles of the trail. I reached the campground and found only a few thru hikers huddled around one of the lean-tos escaping the intermittent rains. Dragonfly's parents were here with tons of food, keeping us busy the rest of the day. Tomorrow several hikers were planning on summiting, regardless of the weather.—Andy

October 5—Katahdin Stream Campground (Day 176 ~ milepoint 2155.0)
This morning when I woke up, I was greeted to the sounds of raindrops hitting the roof along with dense fog. Everyone around me was getting dressed and ready to summit. I quickly got up and started to throw my stuff together--and then for some reason, I told myself to wait it out. I was very eager to summit, however I suddenly lost the desire to head up. I spent the next several hours near the shelter talking to the parents of some hikers, and some new 2000 milers relieved that they were now done. When the rain stopped, I found a ride to Daicey Pond Campground to get my maildrop at the ranger station. I met a few more hikers who were planning on summiting in a couple days once the bad weather cleared out. I returned to Katahdin Stream Campground and found everyone back with large smiles on their faces despite the persistent fog and rain. They were glad to be done and celebrated by scarfing down more food and talking about what they wanted to do once they got home. Instead of staying another night like they had planned, they headed out leaving the shelter to me. That evening I talked to some section hikers I met on the trail a few days back. They were camped nearby and congratulated me on a mission few people will ever experience. Later that night I crawled into my sleeping bag unable to believe I was only one day from finishing my 2,200 mile journey.—Andy

October 6—Baxter Peak, Katahdin (Day 177 ~ milepoint 2160.2)
This morning I woke up to some fog and drizzle, but was very eager to summit the mountain I have been hiking towards for over 2,000 miles and waiting to climb for almost six months. As I headed to the ranger station to sign in, I ran into several hikers in from town on their way to summit, now that the mountain is open again. When I arrived, I saw three hikers I hadn't seen together since Virginia--Screaming Knee, Flying Dutchman, and Fire Marshall. We all looked at each other for a minute and then screamed in amazement. After sharing our stories of the last thousand or so miles we hadn't seen each other, we started our trek up the final leg of the trail. Around 7am we started up in the fog with some on and off rain. We split up as we hiked at our own pace and occasionally met up with each other as we stopped to catch our breaths. Soon we climbed above the heavily forested valley floor and were surrounded by evergreens. During the first scramble on the trail, something miraculous happened, the weather started to clear. Spectacular views of Baxter Park were starting to come into view, and we stopped to shoot a couple photos. This was followed by a climb using the steel "monkey bars" to climb over some giant boulders that were otherwise almost impossible to get over. The trail continued up a jagged spine on the peak that rewarded us with a view across the Tabletop towards the summit. During the last climb towards Baxter Peak, my mind went blank and I started to run. A small sign started to come into view which signaled the end of my adventure on the Appalachian Trail. As I got closer, everything around me turned black except for the brilliant wooden sign that was glowing like a lightbulb. I approached the sign, then I stopped and touched it. KATAHDIN! —Andy

End of Journal

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