One more for posterity.
Today was my last real day on the trail, tomorrow I summit. As of right now I’ve hiked 2,179.1 miles. Tomorrow I’ll do the last 5.1 to the top of Kahtahdin.
We (my hiking partner and I) did 21 miles today into Baxter State Park and to the base of Kahtahdin. We hit the entrance to the park, the end of the 100 mile wilderness, after 11 miles and pigged out at the great camp store there. Ten more miles brought us to the Kahtahdin Stream Campgrounds at the base of Kahtahdin where there is a “long distance hiker only” campsite called The Birches, where I am now.
By the end of the 100 my hiking partner had become a really good friend, definitely one of the best I’ve made on the trail on the trail. I haven’t genuinely enjoyed hiking day in and day out with many people, but I did with him. It’s a little sad to start such a friendship right at the end, but at the same time it made me really happy that the trail still had great things in store for me right up until the very end.
Being at the end is not quite how I imagined it. I’m more numb to it right now than anything else, though I expect it will be different when I summit. The phrase “this is the last X of the trail” has become somewhat of a bad personal joke. Yeah, we get it self, by all measures we’re done. I’m on my last guidebook page, my last rice side, my last night in camp, my last this, my last that. They’re all my lasts, but they don’t feel like it. Like I said, numbness dominates. But I don’t think that will be the case tomorrow. I’m interested to see what will happen.
Tonight there were about 12 thruhikers in camp. I’ve hiked with most of them a good bit since getting back on in NY, but none of them are from my original bubble. They’ve been hiking together, on and off, since the beginning. I’ve become pretty close to a few of them though, even though we don’t share quite as much history, and it was good to see them. They didn’t think I would be here, since I had to push a day earlier to make it here, so it was a nice surprise. It didn’t feel like the last night in camp tonight though. It was just another night bs-ing around the fire. Sure there were more end of trip jokes, and we all had a lot more food (and a few beers), but it felt pretty much like any other night. It was nice that even on this night of nights, the stuff we’ve done a hundred times was still pleasant.
Time for bed now, Kahtahdin tomorrow morning bright and early. They have a bad bear problem here, so fingers crossed that I bear bagged well enough.