Yesterday was July 27th.
For a lot of you, yesterday was Thursday – the last day standing between you and the ‘freaking weekend’, WAHOO!
For even more of you, yesterday was just another day in your routine. You woke up to do your normal ‘you’ things and you went through the entire day without even acknowledging what day it was.
But for us, yesterday was the biggest day of our lives.
Yesterday morning, at the butt-crack of dawn, we packed our packs for one last ascent up one final mountain.
For months, we have hiked miles upon miles each day trudging as much closer to the final summit as we could manage. For so long, however, that final summit sounded more like a figment of our imaginations than a tangible goal we knew would come to reality. For far too long, the end seemed unobtainable and elusive.
Even with only 114 miles left, which was only a week ago, the idea of hiking Katahdin felt lofty and unrealistic.
Even as we ventured into the 100 Mile Wilderness (the last 100 miles before climbing Katahdin known for its remoteness and isolating candor), the end remained far, far away in our minds.
Even as we caught our first real glimpse of Katahdin from 75 miles away, she stood resolute in her distance. Even with 50, 30, 15, and 10 miles to go, ‘the end’ remained strangely distant.
And even as we started to hike those final 5.2 miles to the iconic finish on Katahdin’s summit, our minds couldn’t seem to comprehend our closeness to ‘the end’.
Without necessarily voicing it, we both expected to have emotional breakdowns this past week as we could literally see the end getting closer…but those breakdowns never really happened.
We still hiked 20-25 miles a day. We still ate the same ramen dinner as we arrived to camp at night. We still laced up our disintegrating boots every morning to conquer the miles ahead of us. And we still felt like everything was “normal”.
But yesterday disrupted that sense of normalcy quite quickly.
MoonShine’s daddy and sister came and joined us for our last night so they could climb the final peak with us. We woke up at four in the morning, cooked a quick breakfast, packed up for one last time and then set out to hike the mountain we had hiked over 2,000 miles to get to.
The first few miles flew by, but we made sure to take time to enjoy the increasingly exciting views, waterfalls, and wild blueberries.
And, then the rock scrambling started.
We have a love-hate relationship with scrambling climbs: it is exciting to use your hands to hike, but it is also anxiety-inducing to second-guess the stability of the rock under your feet.
Nonetheless, we pushed on.
After a few false summits, we finally came to a place where we could see fellow hikers a mile away on top of the famous summit sign.
Adrenaline filled our veins, our minds started to convince our legs that we were no longer hiking and all that mattered were the final few steps between us and the end.
With mere feet to go and the sign in sight, that overwhelming sensation we had been anticipating finally surged through our bodies and hearts.
We dropped our trekking poles in unison and grabbed the other’s hand.
“…we can do anything now…”
Our bodies- full of scars and covered in sweat- met the weather-beaten, wooden sign as we embraced the tangible symbol of our dream morphing into reality.
Our tears joined the rain, our laughter was as thick as thunder in the air and our memories flashed before our eyes like lightening as we sat in the wind and clouds just staring at the sign we had been anticipating for so long.
All of the emotions, all of the pains, all of the joys, all of the laughs, all of the tears, and all of the stories from the entirety of our time on Trail were present in those moments and we seemed frozen under the weight of it all.
Yesterday was everything but normal to us.
It was as abnormal to the life we lived before starting our thru-hike as it was abnormal compared to the 173 days in the woods getting to that point.
Katahdin was as unique, transcendent, and magical as we could have ever hoped for.
Part of Her magic is that She remains distant to us even still.
But now, instead of luring us closer and closer to climbing Her peak, Her distance compels us into the great unknown — tomorrow.