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Trail's End (Gutsy's Journal)

August 29, Thursday

   Well, it's over.  Five months of following the white blazes is done.  
   We (Guinness, Geo and I) had wonderful weather for our final day of
hiking.  Rain had been expected, but never came and clouds did settle in, but
only after we were descending.  
    I wanted to start the hike early, but Guinness had made arrangements with
Channel 13 (Portland) to meet them at 9.  When they didn't come by 9,
Guinness didn't wait around for them.  He knew we wanted to go, so we were on
the way by 9:15 (they never did come at all).  The trail started easy enough,
but about 2 miles up the fun started.  Actually, it was fun.  Most thru
hikers hiked alone during the day, but this day we agreed to hike together so
that made the rough spots easier.  I wouldn't let the guys help me at all
because I'd done it all by myself so far and I wanted to finish that way.
 We'd left our heavy packs down at the Ranger station, and we just had
daypacks (except for Geo, who had his regular pack --- but it was almost
    About 2 miles up the wind started and cooled the air so hiking was a
pleasure (At the end of the day we noticed that we'd only drunk a fraction of
our water).  A couple of times I took off my fanny pack and threw it up ahead
to make climbing easier.       About two miles from the top we met Skye and
Sundog who had flip-flopped in Gorham because of the hailstorms there.  They
were coming down because they'd gone up about 5:30 a.m.  They would now be
heading into the 100 mile wilderness.  We also met another couple who later
gave us a ride into Millinocket.  
    I could hardly believe that we were finally at the top when I saw the
sign.  It seemed like, surely, we would have farther to go.  Of course we
took lots of pictures (the only pictures I took on the trail).  I didn't cry
like Geo thought I would, but I did yell, "OK, helicopter, come get me!"  I
was done, but unfortunately I still had to hike down.
    Geo and Guinness didn't want to go down the same way we came up so the
concensus was to hike down another trail.  We went down the Saddle and then
down to Chimney Pond.  The views going down that trail were also fantastic.
It was nice to go down another trail just for the change, but with the
hitchhiking we had to do to get back to our packs, it turned out to be a long
day.  We also stopped to help a girl dayhiker who was having a terrible time
with bad knees.  I lent her my Lekis and then we all had to wait until she
got down to retrieve them. Geo gave her some Ibuprofen, but she still was
hurting.  Geo finally found a ride to the Ranger station to get our packs.
 Guinness and I waited over an hour at the gate for Geo to get back with our
ride (the couple we met) and our packs.  Guinness was getting very cold (he
really had lost about as much weight as anyone ought to lose on the trail),
and the bugs were eating me.  It was wonderful to finally see Geo and get a
ride to a hotel (and get my very last "trail bath.")  We were tired but we
were all very upbeat because it was "the end".
   I know many people thought I hiked too fast and I know I was "down" many
times, but I honestly hiked my own hike.  I think if I hadn't been so driven
at first I may not have been able to finish the trail when I was sick.  After
I became sick I couldn't think of the end, but I just took each day's miles
as a single goal.  I may not have had as much "fun" as others, but I
accomplished what I wanted, and no one can ever take that away from me.