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My watch started vibrating at 4am. I was already awake ready to start for an early day and essentially my first night hike in the early morning dark. Did it turn out to be necessary? No, but I felt better making sure I was one of the first 12 hikers to arrive at the Baxter State Park kiosk where a ranger would show up at 7am with The Birches signup sheet. They only allow 12 long distance hikers stay there so unfortunately it becomes a race for hikers wanting to stay in the park before summiting the next day if they don’t have camping reservations at the other campgrounds. Sparkle and I ended up being the first two there followed by another couple about 10 minutes later. By 7:03am when the ranger was walking up, we had 8 hikers standing there. There would only be enough room for 4 more after that. The hike in to the park was very nice. It was an incredibly easy 10 mile day. As we got close to the ranger station, we could see where the native tribe was holding their private rituals so we quietly passed and headed to meet the ranger who would take our $10 camping payment, get our information and then give us our park permits as well as a slip we drop off when exiting the park so they know we are gone. I got #690 on my park permit. It doesn’t have anything to do with my starting tag # of 452 or my Harper’s Ferry # on my picture there of 476. It’s just their 690th permit given out for all hikers, NOBO, flip flop, SOBO, etc. After that, we headed to The Birches and I set up my tent right next to the lean-tos as required by their rules. As soon as I finished having my lunch, the rain started and I jumped in my tent to get comfy. Of course I have to end up with a muddy, soaked tent for my final day. LOL! Oh well. I hope it stops raining by 5pm so I can cook my last dinner on trail. I’ll then be all set to get up at 5am, pack up and hit the trail around 6am. I have 5.3 miles to the top of Katadhin and then my 2022 Appalachian Trail Northbound Thru-Hike will be complete. At the summit after taking my pictures by the Katadhin sign, I’ll send Jason a text letting him know I summited and I’m heading back down. I’ll go down a different trail (Abol Trail) where he will be able to enter the park and come get me. One last night in this tent and then I get to go home tomorrow. It’s so surreal. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and I’m glad it is one day away from being over but I’ll kind of miss the freedom being out here has given me. Will I ever hike again? Absolutely! It will just be shorter trips from now on. At this point in time, I don’t have any cares of hiking that requires hitching or shuttling rides to get resupplies and to get cleaned up before going back out. I’m good with keeping trips short enough that resupplies aren’t necessary and I can carry just what I need for each outing. Who knows if my mind will ever change in the future but for now, my itch to do a massive thru hike like this has been scratched.