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Tuesday, September 14, 2010


First off...CONGRATULATIONS to Duchess for the completion of your thru-hike!!
Her and I were close apart, and I actually summited on Saturday September 11. It was a beautiful day and I am truely blessed for having a gorgeous day with a nice summit and a great group of people to summit with.With champagne and cigars in hand Klarity, Playboy, Chopsticks, Rocky & I celebrate on top of Mt. Kathadin--Our finish line!

The hike was amazing and the stories will be remembered forever. And thanks to everyone that kept up on our posts and kept in touch.


I have learned through this hike not only about myself, but the true good of people as well. I will be sure to say that I am not a purist but yet an adventure hiker and have seen more and done more the last 6 months that I could imagine myself doing in a lifetime. I have not only grown physically but mentally as well. I am stronger now than I have ever been, and I feel like I am ready to take on the world. I have realized now that no thru-hiker is lost, but we are on the same trail with the same intentions: to have an adventure.

"Not all those who wander are lost."


Sunday, September 12, 2010


As my flight descended to the runway at the Indianapolis airport, I could pick out from my window familiar high school football fields, the Pepsi Coliseum, the intersection of 38th and Meridian and even the red roof and front lawn of home. The whole family met me at the arrival gate--Dad, Sally, Grace and Grant! Wasting no time, we piled into Dad's new Lincoln and drove straight to Judy's, a family favorite and the best place in town to get the Hoosier classic: a breaded tenderloin. (They don't even know what these are on the east coast!)

It's great to be home and even better to be able to say I've hiked the AT (*in past tense :) I can't begin to describe accurately what an experience like this has meant but its been one of the coolest things that I've ever been a part of. I've met countless wonderful and unique individuals; friends that will last a lifetime. I've seen beautiful parts of the country that I'd never considered visiting. I've found appreciation for some of everyday-life's smallest conveniences; fresh-brewed coffee, toilet paper, a text message from a friend 1000 miles away.

This was the view from the top of Katahdin--the final climb.

It's not the highest peak on the AT, but its the biggest elevation change we've seen and definitely one of the more rugged climbs on the trail. It was partly cloudy and 60 degrees on the ground (elev. 1200) that morning, dense fog and 50 mph sustained winds on top (elev. 5200). For the last mile leading up to the summit, we were walking the ridgeline, they call it "Tableland." With visibility at ~25 feet, the sign marking the summit just appears in front of you without warning. It's breathtaking. It's what you've been hiking towards for the last 6 months. One by one, a small crowd of hikers form at the top and we gather around it like its some sacred icon that marks the end of a religious pilgrimage. For many, it kind of is I guess. Pigpen and I took our pictures and drank a celebratory 16oz Budweiser, then decided to head back down so we could get the blood circulating again in our frozen fingers.

The fog faded as quickly as it had appeared, as we descended below treeline and out of the dream.

It was a pretty perfect ending to a pretty incredible trip.
More of a denouement than a climax, Katahdin was as breathtaking and satisfying as i could have hoped for.

I need to extend an especial thank you to my good friend and hiking buddy "Pigpen," and his family, for their generosity and accommodation in the last month or so of this hike. Couldn't have done it without you. Literally.

I also want to congratulate Malorie aka 'NotBad' on the completion of her thru-hike! She summited successfully on Saturday. Its a very impressive feat, something to be very proud of. I'm very proud of you :)

I can't begin to thank everyone who is reading this. You're interest alone has been a major driving force in finishing this thing off.

I'm not sure the best way to end this final entry, but i found this quote that surmises part of what i think I've learned & a lesson that i consider worth passing on:

"Long distance hiking is not a vacation, it’s too long for that. It’s not recreation, too much toil and pain involved. It is, we decide, a way of life, a very simplified Spartan way of living … life on the move … heavy packs, sweating brow; they make you appreciate warm sunshine, companionship, cool water. The best way to appreciate these things that are precious and important in life it is take them away." – CINDY ROSS, Journey on the Crest, 1997

w/ love, Jess

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Final Stretch for Not Bad

Greetings from Rangelely, Maine! I am sitting here at the public library waiting for TRACIE to arrive so that she can come out and hike with me for a few days. We are jumping up trail just a little bit though so that we can do a little easier of a section, and then when we part ways I'll only have 150 miles left to go!! But before all that excitement, I'll update y'all on what's been going on the last few weeks!

I am still hiking with Klarity, and her and I plan to summit the last mountain together. Since my last blog post I have made it through not only Vermont but also New Hampshire!! In New Hampshire I defeated the White Mountains and had some great hut experiences!
(Here's a shot of me on top of Mt. Moosilauke...first big peak in the White Mountains!)

(This is a shot atop South Kinsman...serious hand over feet climbing!! The Whites were tough!)
(And here's the Big One Folks!! Mt. Washington!! The second highest peak on the Appalachian Trail!! The morning was windy and foggy and the afternoon cleared up beautifully!!)

After clearing through the Whites, Klarity and I took a small road trip with some friends who have cars out on the AT...we spent the evening with a shower and a hotel room and celebrated the end of the Whites. It was a hard week, but we did it and we are on route to make it to the big mama: Katahdin!!

After New Hampshire, and all the rest of the 13 states, is the last and final one: MAINE...we are excited to be here and am really excited to see new and old friends while bumping up ahead.

(Here's the money shot!! Finally made it to our last state line!!)

So only a little ways to go and I'm so excited!! If ANYONE wants to send chocolate, nuts, candy, cards, etc. to me before I get off trail, here's a great address to do it at!!
Hold for AT Thru-Hiker
Malorie Irvin
Monson, ME PO 04464
ETA: Sept. 7, 2010