|North Carolina/Georgia border|
|Fire on Rocky mountain summit|
|H2Camo and Moosie hitching out of Hiawassee Georgia|
|Neels Gap, shoes hanging from tree in background|
|Looking south towards the end of the AT from Blood Mountain|
|Blood Mountain shelter|
|Camo extinguishes the last morning fire of our journey|
|Old tulip poplar|
|Springer Mountain. The terminus of our AT hike.|
|That's a wrap|
It's hard to describe what it felt like to finish the AT, as it was a mixed bag of emotions. There was sadness knowing that I would have to say goodbye to my hiking family and friends, in particular Moosie and Camo. There was anxiety when thinking about an uncertain future. There was anger knowing that the rat race still had its claws in me, and it was happily dragging me back into it's bosom. There was excitement and an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment as we reached "finish line."
Before the end, there were still memorable moments. H2Camo, Moosie, and I had a great campsite on top of Rocky Mountain, with a nice sunset, fire, a couple of beers courtesy of some trail magic left by a fellow southbounder named Mudsocks, and good tunes once again. As I mentioned before, the hiking weather was exceptional, and we were given clear views from several different vantage points. I remember standing with H2Camo on Blood Mountain and looking south at the finish of the trail. We tried to figure out which peak could possibly be Springer. It was interesting how the mountains seemed to be closing in on us, the end of the Appalachian line. I remember enjoying morning coffee with Moosie around the fire, a morning ritual, our morning hikes, and her crazy dinner concoctions, and overall laid back aura. I remember getting a good laugh while resupplying in Hiawassee, as a large dog broke free from its owner across the parking lot and bee lined for H2Camo. He had his back turned and was stuffing food into his pack. This wouldn't seem funny to a casual observer, but Camo had a recent string of dog incidents on the trail the previous two weeks, where dogs off leashes created tense situations. The fact that this dog chose to run 75 yards towards Camo instead of any of the other 3 dozen or so people standing or walking in the parking lot was ridiculous. Thankfully, the dog was friendly! Anyways I could go on and on, the small things are often the most memorable.
The trail saved one of it's best forests for last in my opinion. The trees in and around Amicalola State Park were pretty exceptional. We hiked under some of the largest old growth hemlocks I had ever seen. I would assume the trees had been treated against the wooly adelgid, the insect ravaging the old hemlocks in the south.
H2Camo, Moosie, and I reached Springer mountain on a cool, overcast evening on the 9th of December. We were the only ones there that evening and decided to camp on the summit. A final trail meal was shared along with some tunes, a small fire, and celebratory cigars and photos. Our AT journey had come to an end...