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. Great picture of the family where the kids are striking their namesake poses. I have enjoyed following your trek this summer. Happy trails for what lies ahead!

  2. We’ve been overwhelmed all spring and summer, but you clearly were not. Hats off to you four!

  3. Congratulations Kallins! I’m so glad I got to meet you guys and follow along on your blog! All In, your writing is so full of wit and I enjoy this entry for how matter-of-fact it is! The perfect ending, just as you began and simply did it– 2,185 miles! Thank you for allowing us all to live vicariously through your words and photos. Happy days, weeks, months back in your home!

  4. Congrats!! It’s great to have you guys back of course, but I think I’ll still miss your posts!

  5. Thank you so much for taking us along on this wonderful journey. I feel as though I know all of you. Take care Kallins, happy trails to you!

  6. What a Journey Kallins!!! I’m ecstatic for you and a little sad for me……..I’ll miss your wonderful posts and pictures. After you settle in I hope you will give some short final reflections. A big pat for Orion and cheers for each of you! Loved following along. Thank you! Cheers!

  7. Congratulations on finishing! Such an inspiring journey with your family. I keep asking my brother (Twelve Percent), if an 8yo can do this, I should be able to, right? We both know I won’t even try, so again, it’s been great to follow your journey, and “meet” some of the folks my brother has met along the way. Well done to all of you.

  8. Absolutely amazing! I’ve so enjoyed following you all five months. God bless you all.

  9. Thank you all for taking us along on your journey; it was a wonderful and inspirational trek to follow. The family picture at the Katahdin sign is marvelous!

  10. Congratulations and thank you so much for sharing your experiences through this journal!

  11. Congrats! Such an impressive feat for your family. Enjoyed your journey. Thanks so much for sharing!

  12. Congrats Kallin family! I’ve enjoyed (and marveled) at your journey. I told my 3rd grade students about your and your travels. They were amazed that people, let alone CHILDREN could travel so far on foot! What a great family adventure 🙂

  13. Kallins,
    Congratulation on an adventure well played…
    ….well played indeed!

  14. Congratulations!!! Thank you for blogging during your thru hike. It was inspirational.

  15. Congratulations. . You have given the children a gift of inestimable value that they will benefit from all their lives. And they seized the opportunity they were given, with both hands.
    Thank you so much for sharing your adventure with us. How to follow that? !

  16. Congratulations on this phenomenal accomplishment! Can’t wait to hear all about it in person!

  17. Congratulations! I’ll miss your blog but can’t wait to see what your next adventure will be.

  18. I binge read your entire blog yesterday, after reading in the Boston Globe that you were expected to finish the AT. Congratulations! I thoroughly enjoyed your journey.

  19. Congrats to all of you. A job very well done on the hike as well as the blog. I have enjoyed every word and step of the LONG journey. Maybe another????

  20. After following your family adventure for the past five months we will all have to quit, cold turkey. Including all four of you. thanks for the enjoyment.

  21. Amazing! Thanks for the summer of fun. Now that you are done, what am I going to do 😉

  22. Congratulations! Stumbled on this a week ago and was so thrilled to hear that you’re living this adventure the way you’d dreamed about it. Hope to catch you next time we’re up in Maine. Hugs, Casey, Megan, Darwin, and Mateo

  23. Thank you for taking us along – It’s been inspiring to read and reflect on your accomplishment. On a three-day hike in the White Mountains last week I met several Nobos and they too marveled at your family. Congratulations – I’ll have to wait for the book to learn more…

  24. Congratulations! Thanks for the words, photos, and inspiration.

  25. Congatulation! You made it! I read your blog for many months and I am realy impressed. Greatings from Germany.

  26. Congratulations! Thanks for letting me vicariously tag along on your adventure! What a gift you have given your children! Best wishes to all for the future!

  27. congratulations!!!!!! I have enjoyed religiously reading your posts all along. Looking forward to meeting you all when I am visiting Rich sometime this coming year. I have loved Kathadin since I was a kid, having summited it several times at summer camp. What a way to finish.

  28. dear ones … all of you. and all who supported this adventure. in you last few posts, days on the trail, i’m aware of a curious feeling of denouement, as in the old sense of an untying of things, a letting go of that particular drive and momentum necessary to sustain such a journey. such an interesting transition to simply walk down from a summit, get in a car, and drive back home. i wonder how you all feel this morning …

    with love and gratitude for being able to share in your pilgrimage.

  29. Thank you for sharing the journey, it was a wonderful season of inspiration to all of us hiking with families. My kids seemed just a little more eager to make big hiking goals. I gotta say that those are some awesome beards in the group picture 🙂 Good luck with your reintroduction…

  30. Unbelievable! I’ve so enjoyed living vicariously through your posts and have thorougly enjoyed all of them. You all are amazing and certainly an inspriation on so many fronts. Good luck with re-entry.

  31. Thank you, thank you, thank you – Yes, you are in inspiration to me as well. I thought about doing the AT alone, then I realized that it’s not my style to do it without my wife, so we are going to sign up for the hut-to-hut hike as a starter. Bless you in your transition back home.

  32. I have so enjoyed your story. Thank you for sharing it and for being so adventurous, smart and just wonderful, all of you.

  33. Kallins, I’m so glad that my friend Peter sent your link to me those many months ago. He is very proud of all of you. Congratulations on achieving your goal, and thanks for having the discipline that was required to share the journey with everyone through your blog. Steve Jurmu

  34. Congratulations on this fabulous achievement. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this blog since the beginning and will miss it, and hearing about your adventures. You have created a lifetime of memories for your family – and I have no doubt there are so many more to come! Welcome home

  35. Congrats! I have loved following along with you. I can only hope to share an adventure such as this with my husband and kids one day!

  36. What a journey! Like others have posted, I’ll miss your updates and wonderful pictures. Kudos to you all for completing the trail and may you enjoy many more hikes together!

  37. Thank you for letting your family’s journey be a part of so many lives. My 8 year old daughter and I have followed your trek, and have been inspired, awed & entertained. I hope the transition back to non-walking-north-life isn’t too rough. I can’t imagine finishing the trail and then popping into 3rd grade the next day… Best wishes to your family – and I do hope you post more reflections as all of you process your adventure and re-enter your traditional routines. Take Care!

  38. Congratulations, Kallins! Have really enjoyed following your amazing adventure. I must have mentioned you to my nephews (aged 10 and 7) when I saw them in San Diego back in June, which led to a cool moment this past week: they were visiting Boston and we took all the cousins up to Rockland, where the hotel had the Portland Press Herald. My older nephew was quietly reading the paper while I read Curious George to my toddler, when he interrupted me to say “Uncle Ken? I have a question. Is this your friend?” He and his brother got a big kick out of reading about you and your kids. (And were very proud of themselves after a 2, not 2,000 but 2, mile hike the next day).

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