August 31 – Head in the Clouds

We woke up early and hit the trail by five thirty to try to beat the forecasted weather expected to roll in later in the day. Most of the other thru-hikers had a similar approach and were on the trail between five and five-thirty. But even Spider-Man, the fastest of us up the mountain (in about two hours and ten minutes), ended up with his head in the clouds.

The ascent was clear with spectacular views of the morning sun on distant peaks. But the strong winds blew the moisture in from all around and the cloud level seemed to lower by the minute. As we climbed the Hunt Spur, we watched the thru-hikers ahead of us crest the spur and then become enveloped in white. We had a similar experience, and once we reached the tablelands the visibility dropped dramatically with wet whiteness whipping by, drenching our hair and lashes.

We flew up the mountain, at our trail-hardened pace and shared the summit with the other early rising thruhikers, Spider-Man, Bear Juice, Chance, Pocket, Mother Earth, Squirrel, Zima, Digger, Tye Dyed Bandit (only Blink came up later, with his family). We all huddled in the lee of the summit outcropping with chocolate cupcakes to celebrated Chance’s thirty-third birthday, and the end to each of our own wild rides. It was chilly on top and even with added warm layers few wanted to linger long.

Minutes after leaving the peak, we met Mama Bear’s parents and turned around to re-summit with them while the other thru-hikers continued their descent. The six of us had some time to ourselves on the top before we headed down. The kids marveled at their transformation into southbound day-hikers now that their long trek was behind them. The descent was slippery with the wet rocks and Cartwheel finished off with one last superman-style trip that knocked the wind out of her as a sort of accidental tribute to our friend Sautée, with whom she shared this unfortunate habit. Her grandfather later followed suit in dramatic, grabbing RobinHood’s arm for support and pulling him down as well. We made it down safely and everyone was eventually able to laugh about their accidental antics.

Rather than spend a last night in the coming deluge, we opted for a late lunch at the AT Cafe in Millinocket, then headed home. It’s still to early to have processed what it means to be done. The adults have lots to do before our lives really get back to normal, and the kids are excited to head back to school this week to see their friends.

At any rate, after waking up tomorrow we’ll have to do something other than walking north.

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96 Comments on “August 31 – Head in the Clouds

  1. My 7year old keep asking how you are doing/if you got to finish. You have inspired us! Congratulations on your accomplishment! We want to learn about your gear list!

  2. Congratulations to all of you for completing the AT through hike! I have been following your blog since I left Winding Stair Gap back in mid April. I have a nice photo of all 5 of you sitting in front of my Volvo, eating some of the trail magic I handed out before I headed home after my section hike from Amicalola .

    I thought you were all “crazy” when Mama Bear and the kids showed up in the early evening hours at Deep Gap Shelter. Here is the text from my notes:

    “Woman with two young kids and a dog showed up at the shelter. Kids names are Mouse & Cartwheel. Orion Is their dog. Dad showed up later with a pack of new supplies. Later learned they are the Kallin family.
    The weather got worse as the night went on. It rained very hard at times and the wind blew hard all night. Covered a couple of cracks in the shelter wall with my book and hiking glove. Sleeping on top loft with “The Professor,” “Grease,” Mouse, Cartwheel, and a young lady whose name I do not remember, who has a bear canister, the only one I have seen. Did not sleep too great.”

    Many of the folks I met on the trail, as well as “Grease,” whom I hiked with from Amicalola St. Park, were unable to finish, mostly due to physical injury suffered on the trail. I found it to be a very difficult hike, which made your successful journey even more rewarding to me. I was worrying as well as rooting for you the entire way!

    Congratulations once again! I am proud to have met you and to have shared in such a rewarding family experience. Thanks so much for the blog posts. I will miss checking in one you all. I will eagerly await your book!

    Best of luck on your next adventure!

  3. Congratulations on completing your journey! Thanks for sharing it with us. Although this is not something I would like to do, I did enjoy following you and your family!

  4. Congratulations on the finish. It was a great pleasure meeting you at the Hershey Hiking Hostel!

  5. Congratulations on a completing an incredible journey! I’m one of “Wired’s” fans and have been following your blog since your paths crossed. Your photos and commentary have been wonderfully entertaining. And I am in awe at your amazing parenting skills. You are raising phenomenal young people to whom we can safely hand over the world knowing they will know how to care for it. Thank you so much for sharing your experience!

  6. Following your wonderful adventure from Montevideo (South America) with much pleasure and fascination! One of the many charming pleasures has been to see all the beautiful photos, with the spectacular landscapes, your attractive family and especially Cartwheel with her delightful intelligent expressions, the girl with a thousand faces! And the text has been superb reading as well of course. As they would say here it’s all been just (like English) fabuloso, maravilloso, increible!

  7. Yippee! Congratulations to you all! I have loved following your journey and feel as though I know you personally from your posts and all the stories I hear of your amazing family from mine here at Arcadia Farm in Buchanan, VA. I was in Germany when you came to our house and someday I would love to actually meet face to face! Maybe in Maine someday, I’ll bring you a goat! 😉 You’ve inspired me, I now have “hike the AT” on my bucket list and we talk about you every time we hike little parts of the trail near our house. “Hi” from William, Ola and all!
    Love the foggy finish line pictures and WELCOME HOME!
    ~Sophie Moeckel

  8. Just one more big congrats. You guys are awesome and inspiring. Please do think about a book!!!

  9. Nola asked if you were still walking this morning while we rocked on the porch at Brae Mar. So we looked….and alas, you’ve made it! Aw yeah!

  10. Don’t know what is more impressive – two parents made this trip with such young kids or that such young kids made this trip (even if their parents tagged along). amazing.

  11. Wow! Wow!!! What an amazing gift to your kids, who will surely grow up confident in their ability to meet any challenge. And what an incredible adventure. Thanks for bringing us along for the ride! An inspiring and beautiful journey. As much as I’ll miss your posts, welcome home!

  12. Wow! So impressed with your family’s awesome accomplishment! This adventure is a lifetime achievement– y should be so proud!!

  13. Welcome home, weary travelers! We are all so very proud of you and impressed with your strength and resolve. We’ll welcome you back here at the firm with open arms, Dave!

  14. Congrats on your thru and thanks for letting me follow along. Your kids are very inspiring and I hope mine are willing and able to things like this in a couple of years.

  15. Congrats! So happy for you. The kids and I were doing a little cheer on Monday, guessing the time you made it to the top based on last year’s fast ascent. Look forward to seeing you. Won’t be at frisbee this week, midcoast united soccer has us in Yarmouth. See you soon!

  16. I am a thru-hiker wannabe and scared to death of one thing: ticks! Tell me what you did to avoid ticks, especially nymphs. How often did you check yourselves. Did you use tents and did you check yourself in the tent and use flashights? If I hike alone will I need a mirror? How can I hike with shorts and still avoid these nasties?! Also, how do you secure your home while away. Was 5-months a good pace? I read the other day that it could take 7 months! Did you hit towns often? Did you mail stuff to POs ahead of time. Thanks for any input.

  17. Welcome home you amazing family!
    We cannot wait to see you!

  18. Yay, Kallin family! The boys and I have enjoyed every post. We look forward to catching up with you all soon in midcoast maine… Good luck acclimating to life indoors, again!

  19. Congratulations on completing the A.T. loved your nicknames. You guys inspired me, I am 10 years old, live in Steep Falls Maine and love to hike. Maybe some day I will do the A.T. :):):)

  20. Such an accomplishment! Proud to know there are families that do adventures together. Kuddos

  21. The rock climbing portion is like climbing the tower (parrot’s peak) in Mt. Pico de Loro here in the Philippines 🙂

  22. So very special, this journey of a life-time! There is nothing more special than the gift of time. It was a pleasure sharing your experience.

  23. we’re so happy for you. You guys are famous, in all the papers and on Facebook! Looking forward to our Katahdin summit in 2 weeks. Hoping my foot will be healed enough to climb up with my family. xo,
    Renee

  24. What a rad family! I dream of one day completing the AT and alongside my son would make it even more special to me! Thank you for the inspiration to make dreams come true!

  25. Congratulations! What a huge accomplishment – surely unforgettable.
    But one challenge lies ahead for the four of you: to adjust to your former lives.
    This wonderful collection of pictures and stories should help.

  26. What a fantastic family! I have been to Katahdin, but regret that I didn’t do the hiking like you. I was only interested in the landscape photography back than. However, I will do some hiking with another older friend like me in Khao Yai National Park in Asia, and perhaps in Anapurna Circuit in Nepal. Hiking is the life!!

  27. Congratulations! I’ve been following you since I met Princess North Star during a section hike in Connecticut. Even during my 50 miles, I must have thought about you a dozen times and thought “If a seven year old can do this, a 46 year old can.” What a remarkable adventure. I would love to know how the kids react the school and what they write for their “what I did this summer” essays. I suspect that very little that life throws at them will ever faze them. What a gift.

  28. amazing trip, would be interesting to devote a post to the gear you brought for a family of 4 and a dog.

  29. Congrats!! Y’all are an inspiration and have motivated us to keep dreaming of going for it when our kids are older!

  30. Fellow Mainer here! Great job! I can only dream…..I did summit Katahdin last September and it was A.Mazing. I will look for you in the crowds around town. 🙂

  31. Hi Kallin Family!

    Well, I just finished reading your whole blog from the beginning and I will miss it!

    15 years ago, I was on the AT, walking from Monson to Katahdin in 21 days! Haha you guys must think this is a joke, from what I understand, you did that in about… 4 days? ;p We were a group of teenage girls, from Camp Tekakwitha, a french-language summer camp on the Androscoggin lake in Maine that takes teens on the trail. It was a great experience and even though I haven’t been back, it’s a dream of mine to walk on the AT for a long time again. And seeing you do this with your kids has sparked something even more fierce in me… Thank you for the inspiration anyways!

    I also wanna tell the kids that they are amazing. I hope being back to school is fun (I’m sure it is, although very different from the last few months). Share your story kids, and never forget how free you were in the woods. That freedom will be with you forever, that’s what life is about. They are very lucky to have parents like you, and I’m sure they will become wonderful adults that’ll bring beauty in the world.

    Thanks for all of this, and more…

    Marie-Christine, from Montreal, Qc 🙂

  32. Just discovered your blog via the AMC website. You are amazing, inspirational, and a few other adjectives I can’t find at the moment!! Congratulations to all! I am waiting for the book!

  33. I began reading your blob back in Sept after I read an article about your journey. Due to a cross country move I was unable to finish (stopped mid-July posts). My rekindled love of hiking brought me back to your blog to finish reading right where I left off. Thank you for the opportunity to read about thru-hiking. I look forward to reading more in the future.

  34. Awesome, awesome, awesome! I just read from the beginning of your blog to this post in 2 days! I’m so inspired and excited by your adventures…actually, my whole family is! (Me, dad and 3 kids, 9,9 and 4). We’re planning and executing ways to train for our own thru-hike in about 5 to 6 years after our expected 4th little is old enough to go and after we skoolie around for a couple of years first, hiking and enjoying all that our beautiful Earth has to offer. Thanks for documenting all the adventures and the beautiful pictures. We’re planning a section hike in April or May of this year on Springer Mtn (we live in Fl currently). Congratulations on completing the hike and I’m off to see what other adventures you guys are up to! 🙂

  35. Hello Kallin family! I am not sure you will even see this comment as it is almost 3 years late, but congratulations on your epic journey! I have just finished reading each and every inspiring blog post you shared along the way and am completely fired up. I shared many of the posts with my husband and my 5 year old daughter and they are equally excited at the prospect of hiking the AT in a few more years (once our kids aged 4 & 5 are a bit older). Thank you so much for sharing your journey with the world, those of us that read this blog have been touched by your journey.
    Love from Calgary, Canada

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