As the end of the Appalachian Trail nears for our lone hiker, the views and wilderness is no less beautiful.
In update 20, we hear about perfect weather and easy hiking, a stark contrast from some of the earlier days in the cold, rain and bugs.
Going by the trail name Colorado, a friend of our esteemed publisher is tackling the length of the Appalachian trail, from north to south. The trail begins in Maine and terminates in the Great Smoky Mountains of Georgia, a distance of about 2,200 miles. It usually takes hikers five to seven months to complete the journey.
It may not be the exact type of off-roading you’re used to seeing on TFLoffroad, but getting into the wilderness under your own power is certainly one of the most enjoyable ways to do so.
So enjoy the latest update from the trail, and stay tuned for more:
Hello to all from my last campsite on the trail. Tomorrow morning I will meet up with Julie (aka Rocky), daughter Lizzie, sister Jeannie, her friend Tim, and niece Kim and her friend Jill, about one mile north of Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the AT. We’ll hike to the summit together, where my journey officially ends, then hike another 8.8 miles down the approach trail to Amicalola Falls State Park, to exit underneath the iconic stone archway that marks the beginning for most hikers. Then I will be done with this calendar year thru-hike.
Today’s trek was rather surreal, knowing it is all coming to an end. This was one of my shorter mileage days, so I could really coast with all the bigger climbs now behind me, enjoying each of the final miles. The weather was perfect – sunny, cool in the morning, not too hot in the afternoon, and bug free for the most part. I couldn’t have ordered up a better day. I was hoping to see one final bear today, but that was not to be, so a wild turkey in the morning had to suffice.
I passed several NOBOs today just starting their trek. These are the late starters, with the vast majority of NOBOs already well on their way. They all have a lot of good things waiting for them on the trail, so I wish them well. But I’m glad to be finishing rather than just starting!
When people on the trail find out that I’m just about to complete this hike, they are genuinely happy and graciously excited for me. That’s just how it is out here – everyone generally supporting everyone else, each person knowing what the next person is going through or what lies ahead for them. It’s a trail community with a culture all its own, and the only way to experience it is to be out here for a length of time.
After Rocky left me at Fontana earlier in May, I was joined up by Socrates, a thru-hiker I met in New England last year. He and his daughter Frogger hiked at my pace, so we saw a lot of each other during the summer. They went on to complete the trail in November after I got sidelined. But Socrates said he missed the trail after finishing, so he came back to hike with me for a few days this Spring. It was fun to see him again.
After he left, I hiked the last several days with Too Many, a SOBO who, like me, had to leave the trail prematurely last fall, and came back this Spring to finish. He is a Navy vet who dedicated his hike to specific people who had been killed in action.
When we reached Neel Gap, 30 miles from the finish, we noticed a tree full of boots in the branches. These were the boots of NOBOs, who, after a mere 30 miles into their northbound hike, decided for whatever reason to throw the towel in and sling their no-longer-needed boots into the trees. They’re hard to see in this early morning photo, but there were a LOT of boots up there.
You know you’re getting close to the end of the trail when you realize there are no more mountains to the south:
But there are still some amazing views:
It has all been good. Very good. I’m a lucky guy.
I’ll let you all know how the last day on the trail goes.