The climb

Waking up we laid around the room for a long time, debating leaving or staying.  It wasn’t our words that debated, it was our actions, there was no sense of urgency. When we did finally pack up and leave we walked back into town and looked for a ride out.  We were on the corner not five minutes before a woman yelled at us and brought us in her restaurant for a beer.  Taking her up on the offer we chatted and found her to be a very interesting character as we were duped into paying for a free beer.  Slightly irritated, we looked for our ride out again.

Getting lucky we caught two consecutive rides back to the trail, we had just ten miles to hike till we were at the base of our final climb. In the late afternoon we walked quietly together into Baxter State Park.  No one eager to talk, each in their own thouhts, I decided to break the silence with a story. I told them of the first time I met Deja Vu in Georgia. He rubber banded with my brother and I all the way to the shelter.  In the middle of the night, that day, I rolled over and he was looking at me from just a foot away in his bag, goofy grin and all, saying Hi and just staring at me.  I laughed a bit as I shared the story, the others took turns telling their own stories. The afternoon went like that for miles for us, remembering the good, the bad, the funny, and sad.

I pushed past them for a while, needing some time for my thoughts. My mind only had one thought, the next day, the last day on the trail. Six long months had come down to just one more day and that was all I thought of. I needed the time to myself, with just ten miles to go, I needed to get my thoughts in order. My hamstring was killing me and I needed just one more day.  One more day, to finish, to get things right, to achieve something people only dreamed of and few ever accomplished. Unfortunately I wasn’t alone long, the others caught me at the river crossing and we walked the last few miles to the shelter together. We had left so late in the day that it was dark when we arrived.

Cooking dinner and prepping my gear for the next morning I retreated to thoughts again. I was about to finish one of the longest trails in the world, 2189.6 miles of mountains, trees, animals and many other great things. I hoped, I had enough left in the tank, for one last climb.  Five miles, four of them straightup, over rocks, ice, water, wind and many other dangerous obstacles. I had been warned to not under estimate the breadth and ruggedness of our climb. I was ready, not excited to finish, but ready, calm, hands steady, heart slow and metronomic.  Akin to a warrior going into battle, a boxer before a fight, I played out the next day over and over in my mind, as I sat there in my sleeping bag.  In the morning I would start the hardest climb of the trail, the hardest of my life to that point, I would climb Katahdin.

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