The final section of trail went by in a blur. Between the short, rainy days, bare leafless trees, and the fact that I had been hiking for half a year, there wasn’t much to focus on. But I’m sort of a pro a this point, and the routine was pretty well established. Toward the end, though, that routine started to fall apart. As the miles dwindled, I was able to give myself a tentative finish date, rather than a vague time of year. There was the last resupply in Hiawassee that filled my food bag for the last time, and I remember realizing that it would only get lighter. I remember noting, as I climbed a tough uphill, that all the remaining climbs would be smaller. There was relief when I successfully used a failing piece of gear for the last time. I was counting down miles, since the distance remaining has shrunk from an abstract chunk of trail to be hiked in the future to a number I could hold in my brain. The last hitchhike, the last water collection, the last time I hung a bear line, it all added up as I got closer to Springer.
Total Milage: 2189.2
Miles Remaining: 0
The thing. It’s done. I did it.
I spent a few days in Georgia with my little trail family, and now I’m back home in Maryland. Being finished hasn’t really sunk in yet, so I’m going to curl up under a blanket for a while now, and I swear I will bite the first person who wakes me up before spring.