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[at-l] 2 Years Ago Today

Well, 2 years ago today at this time I was on Katahdin at the end of my
thruhike :-)  Lots has happened since then.  I was looking at my journal
for that day, and thought I'd post part of it.  The first part of my day
just described the climb up Katahdin, but here's the part where I reach the
top, and after.  Although it's really impossible to capture what you feel
and how overwhelmed you get just sitting there, I think I caught a little
of it.  Hope you enjoy it.

GA>ME '98


Across the tablelands you reach Thoreau Spring, then climb rocks again but
this time it's more like rock steps and rock hopping. And suddenly there it
is! You're there! Just beyond the sign is the actual summit with a huge
rock cairn but the sign MUST be touched on the way :-)  The sun had finally
come out and clouds were blowing all around the summit and the other peaks.
At some point a huge smile had affixed itself to my face and it was
impossible to get rid of it! I whooped for joy at the sign, then quickly
continued over to the cairn to touch the actual summit.  Back at the sign
we asked the day hikers to move aside for a bit so we could get some
photos.  Navy Flyer joined us and we took more photos? groups, individuals,
different poses, I felt like I was a model!  Finally we moved aside and
shared some food and Goldschlager Schnapps in the shelter of some rocks.  I
have no idea how long we remained on the summit.

It was a time for joy and celebration.  It was a time of unreality for me.
I didn't reflect, or get melancholy, I was waaaaay too happy for that.
That comes later.  The wind was whipping and it was pretty cold but we
could see for miles when the clouds broke.  The other jagged rock peaks of
Katahdin spread out behind us.  In front was the carpet of golden woods
from which we'd climbed.  Even with the wind the day was breathless and
held a feeling of unreality, of otherworldliness.  There was a stillness in
the midst of all of the commotion and movement around me.  The sky beyond
the clouds was a palette of blues and the clouds spread, then gathered and
spread again.  It felt like I was given glimpses of a sparkling jewel, then
it was hidden from sight again.  And that jewel is the Earth.  I can see
why the Abenaki named this mountain Kette-adene.  From here you feel like
the whole world is spread out before you and if your arms were but long
enough, you could reach out and touch it all.  Finally I got out my nip of
Jamesons.  I'd carried this all the way from Springer - one on Springer,
one on Katahdin!  Since I am of Celtic descent and started on St. Patrick's
day (intentionally) I saw this as one of my own private rituals for my
hike... a celebration of me, my heritage, and my Hike.  I drank the nip
with the same toast I gave on Springer "Here's to me and the AT and a
successful thru-hike".  And now it is finished.  Unbelievable.

We stayed a while but it was cold and finally it was time to go.  The hike
down was pretty quick too but there were about 100 people hiking up!  It
was a zoo!  Everyone could tell that something wonderful had just happened
though because I couldn't stop smiling.  Many people stopped me to ask if
I'd just hiked the whole thing and I replied "yes, all 2162 miles of it!!"
They couldn't believe it. Neither could I.  We passed Magic Stix on his way
up, but I didn't think he was going to hike until tomorrow.  Once on the
way down I got stuck between some rocks (hey, it wouldn't be right to end
the hike without some small difficulty!) but basically I floated down the
mountain.  When I finished it was a warm, sunny, fragrant fall afternoon.
It was like so many others I've had recently, but when I signed out at the
register (it was 2:30) I knew I wouldn't have any more of these days this
year.  We went back to Daicey Pond so I could sign in the register (I
forgot last night) and saw Hootie, Jingle, Veto, Periwinkle, Low Tide,
Ender and probably some others that I've forgotten to name.  Looks like it
will be a big group on the summit tomorrow.  Several times during the
afternoon I spontaneously came out with 'Oh my GOD, I'm done!' I imagine
lots of thruhikers say that exact phrase :-) Tonight we're going to
Millinocket to spend the night, then slowly make my way home. I'll put some
post-hike thoughts in one more document too but for now it's time to rest,
because, Oh my GOD, I'm done! :-)

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