In the middle of May, Appalachian Trail MA section volunteers gathered at Father Tom's Campsite. I camped there the night before. That night I met "Trapz", a north bound AT hiker. She's very toll and strong, started her hike in Georgia in late February. We had a nice short conversation and said bye to each other the next morning. The event went on and we had a lot of pizza feeding volunteers and passing by AT hikers.
On June 3rd, I stayed at the Notch Hostel, as usual, ready for a hike the next day. In the bunk room, a tall girl asked, "Are you from Massachusetts?" What the......! Trapz! This was insane. I couldn't believe it. Of course we chatted a little more, then decided that we may hike together on her final day on AT, summiting Mt. Katahdin. Oh her hiking buddy Patty, who didn't stay at the hostel, was one of those who enjoyed pizza at the volunteer event.
To save money and hangout with hikers, I stayed at AT Lodge in Millinocket, ME. It is very cozy, clean with many beds to choose from. There were already two south bound (SOBO) hikers ready to take off the next morning. One of them is a cancer survivor, always want to do this trail, finally retired to fulfill his dream. Trapz's mom and Patty's whole family came to the lodge as well, ready to witness and accompany the hikers' big summit day! It's very impressive how supportive the families are.
The gate of Baxter State Park opens at 6am. There were already 40 cars in line by then. Trapz and Patty were both there waiting at trail head. I started climbing 30 minutes earlier while they wait for their families. Sure, both of them passed me when I was 1 hour in. They've been practicing for 4 month on the trail. There was no picture taken on the way to the summit. The trail is very very steep. Some huge boulders have metal bars mounted on so hikers can grab onto the bars and pull themselves up. As a short person, it was harder but manageable. A small portion above tree line is on a narrow ridge with steep cliff on both sides. It took quite a moment to work up some courage to go through it. Once you get to the plateau at the last portion, it was much easier and flatter to walk to the top. The plan was that Trapz and Patty summit and take pictures first, then come down to meet their families who hike a bit slower, and hike up again with them.
Patty's sister passed me as well. But eventually we made it to the summit. Katahdin is breath taking. Works can not express the feeling. Many north bound (NOBO) AT hikers were gathering by the sign, crying, laughing, shouting, goofing around...... So proud of everyone. Oh there's a young boy hiked up with his dad. Wow.
This was my first time meeting everyone else but Trapz. Somehow everyone looked and felt so familiar. Proud of the hikers, very much respect to their families. Together, we descended the mountain, crackered jokes, talked about life, asked the two hikers a million questions about their journey. Wish the mountain was taller so we would have time for more questions. Back to the trailhead, surprisingly it was not hard to say goodbye. A light hug then we were on our way home. Maybe we all knew that we would meet again somewhere someday. Trapz said, "Yun, let new know when you are hiking the AT! I'll join you, as well!"
I stayed one more night at the lodge. The following morning, 11 SOBO hikers started their journey. It was so tempting to just take off with them. So tempting. Best wishes to the hikes! Have an amazing trip to Georgia on foot, and make lifetime friends! Time to go home, hauling one NOBO hiker to his uncle's house, might as well.