For the second night in a row I set my alarm. I had a good idea how long the remaining 26 miles would take me, but I needed to start early and on time to arrive around my scheduled pick up time, between 4-5pm. 

I also noticed the soil has started to become more consistently a familiar orange-red.

I was tired but kept on schedule today.

The trail went right through the Springer Mountain parking area. I didn’t recognize any cars there so I knew I was early. I continued past the parking area up the last mile of trail, and arrived to the summit at 4:15pm.

I was up there all alone for some time. Then a couple other hikers arrived. Then my little welcoming party arrived, bearing a nice late lunch and champagne in backpacks of their own.

We hung out up top for an hour or so, took pictures, and relaxed in the late afternoon sun. I felt exhausted, full from lunch, and happy to be finished.

My mind wandered back to the very beginning of this journey—to the northern terminus in Maine, Mt. Katahdin. It didn’t seem quite right at the time to include pictures of what seemed prematurely triumphant on the very first day of my hike. Who knew what would happen…would I even finish? So, now that it’s done, here is the photo from July 11th, 2018:

And then, after 2192.0 miles of the Appalachian Trail behind me, there was just one more “bonus mile” left…to go back down the trail to the parking lot.

— May 26, 2019

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