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October 10, 2020 - Long Trail - Day 20 - The Last Day!

October 10, 2020 - Long Trail - Day 20 - The Last Day!

The Long Trail: Day 20 : The Last Day : 10/10/20 . It was the last day. I was having a hard time believing it was already here and finally here in the same breath. 4.4 miles would take us to a clear cut line in the forest that marks the boundary between the US and Canada. It would also mean another thru hike completed and about 6000 miles had been walked over the years. . We had coffee and breakfast then proceeded to pack our gear one last time. Change clothes, stuff the quilt, fold the NeoAir, pack my pillow, and place each item in my pack. Next in was my almost empty food bag, then miscellaneous items, then clothes to fill the gaps. Lastly, I put the pot in and folded down the top of my pack and clipped it shut one last time. It all felt so familiar at this point, like driving to work or putting away the dishes. Simple tasks made routine by daily practice. . The daily practice of walking up and down the mountains, over rocks, dodging roots, and skipping over muddy puddles. Those routine, everyday tasks took us to the end of the road where we faced the edge of the US and stared into Canada. . The last mile, the one leading up to the monument, I slowed down my mind and forced myself to reflect on the last 19 days. The highs and lows, the beauty of the fall foliage, the tough yet fun climbs, the people we’d met and all the work it had taken to reach the end of the trail and complete another hike. I wanted to make certain I realized the physical effort and strength it took to get my body to the end and the mental fortitude to push past the tough moments. . The end of a thru hike always feels like it should be super climactic and emotional. In some ways it is, the final exhale, the first moment of rest after a tough fight. But more often than not, it simply feels like any other moment, one to be proud of, but just another moment even still. It isn’t the final steps that make a thru hike momentous, it’s all the steps in between. . It’s staring down a steep climb and powering through when your legs feel like they’re filled with lead. It’s eating at a beautiful lake but leaving quickly because you’re so stinking cold. It’s breathing through the anxiety of going up not 1 or 2 but THREE fire towers. It’s forcing on frozen shoes and sloshing through cold, muddy trail. It’s laughing with strangers who become fast friends. It’s hot coffee in the forest and endless Snickers bars. It’s every single joy and struggle that makes those final steps so sweet. So here’s to 6000 miles on trail and hopefully many more to come.

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