It’s done!

First of all, thanks to all of you who sent us congratulations earlier today, when we stillย had 5.2 miles to go.

Now (as of 1:30 PM Monday) the hike is done. Doni, Melissa and I reached the top, and that famous sign on the summit. We laughed, we cried, we hugged, we took photos (we’ll post some soon), and we hiked the 5.2 miles back down in the pouring rain. It was slippery in spots, so we trudged down slowly, the trail having turned into a steady stream. Though our feet and clothes were thoroughly soaked, we didn’t really mind as we knew that when THIS day of hiking was done, we wouldn’t need to set up the tents and try to dry things out for another day. No, at the moment, Doni is driving us toward Portland, Maine, where we’ll all spend the night. Melissa and Doni will be heading back to Brooklyn from there, and I’ll be hopping on an AirTran flight back to Rochester via Baltimore, getting in in the late afternoon.

We’re all tired, and it’s coming up on my turn to drive, so I’ll end this here, except to say that we’ll both be adding some updates and photos in the coming days. Thanks to all of you for your interest and support. You really helped keep us going!

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50 Responses to It’s done!

  1. John C says:

    Incredible. Almost 6 months and you made it. What a feat. Congrats.

  2. JRae says:

    This is thrilling for you and for all of us who have been cheering you on.
    A terrific accomplishment and so many memories to be had.

    I am happy Michael that you will be home for your birthday!

    Great job

    Love, Jrae

    • Mike says:

      Thanks! And now for another challenge … adjusting to life in the world off the trail. I’d say the REAL world, but the trail is a real world itself; just a different world. It was a very different lifestyle to lead for those months, and I’m hoping that I’ll retain all that that was good about it. I’m sure the experiences we had and the attitudes we developed about caring, sharing, tolerance, helping each other and simple friendliness will spill over into our futures.
      It’ll be an adjustment to be off-trail, but it won’t be a return to the way our lives were; I’m sure Melissa and I have both been changed forever!

  3. Diana says:

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! Soooo thrilled for you guys! I’m also excited for your next walk together next month ๐Ÿ™‚ It’ll be much shorter ๐Ÿ˜‰ xoxoxo

  4. SO PROUD OF YOU!!!!!! You did it. Wow. I can’t believe it : ) Get home safe and bring over pictures. I want lots of stories!!!!!

  5. Mike and Gloria says:

    Congratulations! We’ve read every post and looked at every picture since meeting you in Virginia during our Shenandoah NP section hike. You’ve inspired both of us to get out even more. In fact my wife and I are considering doing our own thru hike. It’s truly been a joy following you. We all appreciate the effort it must have taken to record and photograph your journey while on the trail. Good luck to Mel on her upcoming nuptials. Mike….enjoy your wife and the comforts of home.

    Burning Man and Una

    • Mike says:

      Thanks, you two! I hope you can grab the gusto of the thruhike. I’m elated that I was able to go the distance with Melissa – she’s a strong and determined young lady. I can look back now and say that it was worth every bit of struggle, but it’s so good to be home with my dear wife! I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything, but I can also say that I don’t think there’s any more long-distance hiking in my future!

      Stay safe and happy trails! (By the way – we heard that Swift was just a couple of days behind us near the end!)

  6. Good for you, and one more Congrats, for your accomplishing the journey you both dreamt of, and planned for so long.
    You posted that you thought you would be completing your hike on the 4th of September,you were pretty close, and I am sure you hadn’t anticipated Hurricane Irene holding you up.

    Thanks again for bringing all of your friends with you, electronically speaking, every step of the way, these many months.
    Take it easy, oh yes and still be safe as well.
    I will be looking forward to us sharing a meal when you get back and whenever you feel like it.
    In closing I have to also thank God for answering my prayers, through out all of your difficulties, Perry

    • Mike says:

      As always, Perry – THANKS! You’ve been our most ardent supporter, and we felt your prayers for us! You’re right; Irene held us up for a day. We were happy to be able to finish when we did, even though it meant a couple of long and strenuous days near the end to be able to get to Katahdin to meet up with Doni when we did. I’ll sure take you up on that meal offer!

  7. Darren says:

    You guys are absolutely phenomenal!

  8. Warren Kuhfeld says:

    Congratulations on an incredible accomplishment!
    — Warren and Donna
    PS. We met on the AT in VA. Donna is from Rochester.

  9. Elaine and Allen says:

    And just in time for the races at the Glen this weekend! This year you should get a room at that fancy hotel in town – you have earned it.
    It really is amazing and we can’t wait to see the pictures.
    Elaine and Allen

    • Mike says:

      Thanks! Alas, I don’t think I’ll be making the Glen this weekend – you’re right about the room, though; don’t think I’ll be sleeping in a tent for a while! It’s time to enjoys some pampered luxuries with Susan!

  10. Val and Deb says:

    Mike and Melissa,

    Super-congratulations!!! What an accomplishment! Oh, what a feeling it must be! Glad to know that Doni was able to be there with you for the last couple of days. It will probably take a while for it to sink in that you don’t have to get up in the morning and prepare for the day’s hike any more (or, at least not right away). Can’t wait to see more pictures.

    Val and Deb

    • Mike says:

      Thanks! On the way up Katahdin, I was thinking of you guys. I know you’ve been there, and now that I have “toured” Maine and part of Baxter State Park, I see why you like it so much. We’ll be seeing you soon, I hope!

  11. christopher says:

    a most extraordinary journey & accomplishment!!!
    thanks for having all of us along
    and best wishes for what’s ahead.

    happy trails…

  12. SusanS says:

    CONGRATULATIONS!!! What a wonderful feeling it must be. So happy that you both came through it with no serious injuries and had an amazing adventure we all could share. Thank you!

  13. MN says:

    Congratulations! Mendon and Black Creek will look small now.

  14. Deborah Farmar says:

    Now when it rains you’ll know what to do!!!!!

    So glad you’re done, successfully – and now onto the comforts of home! – and more wedding preparations. Look forward to seeing you both – or the three of you – in October on that great day!

    • Mike says:

      Now when it rains, we’ll know what to do??? Does that mean go for a hike? I read something along the way that said that life is not about avoiding thunderstorms; it’s about learning to dance in the rain. We danced in the rain!

  15. margaret says:

    So excited and thrilled about your accomplishment! Congrats. Can’t wait to see you soon!


  16. Jim Priestley says:

    Mel and Mike,

    What a great accomplishment!! I loved following you through your trek. I now can say that I know GREAT HIKERS who really follow their dreams!!!!! It is something to be very proud of. I’m just proud to know you. Real adventures with real gusto!

    Mike, I can’t wait to shake you hand,

    Jim Priestley

    • Mike says:

      Thanks, Jim. You know, there were times when I thought we had bitten off more than we could chew, but near the end, when Katahdin was close, we could feel the support behind us from folks like you and everyone else who kept up with us and offered lots of encouragement along the way. It was heartwarming to know you all were there, especially so when I heard you had called to find out how we were doing after Hurricane Irene! I’m happy to say we survived the hike with only minor injuries (bumps, bruises, cuts and scrapes, a million black fly bites and CLiCK!’s ankle sprain) – it’ll be a pleasure to be able to shake your hand!

  17. cora b. says:

    congrats on makeing it through the hike ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Donld Grinnell says:

    Congratulations, glad to hear that you both made it safe and sound.
    Can’t wait to hear and see more about your fantastic journey.

    • Mike says:

      I’m planning to put together a (lengthy) slide show and I’ll let you know when it’s ready – I enjoyed Bushman’s when I saw it, and I really have to say thanks to you and him for your support! Wish we had traveled as ultralight as he did – my knees are achy!

  19. Deb M says:

    Mel and Mike,
    Let me add my congratulations to the list!
    I was hiking around Glencliff, NH again last weekend and met a woman thru-hiking for the second time – a 20th anniversary hike. She told me when she thru-hiked the first time in 1991 she was one of only 3 women to finish that year. Mel, you do us chicks a great credit! Best wishes to you both.

  20. Ahmama says:

    CONGRATULATIONS!! Great job & welcome home!

  21. Barry Markham says:

    Glad to see you found that sign you were looking for. What a journey – congratulations!

    • Mike says:

      Thanks, Barry, and special thanks for being so kind as to take your time to give us the help we needed at a difficult time! You went out of your way to help, and we really appreciate that. Might not have made it without you! CLiCK!’s air cast is in tatters now, but we’re happy to say that her ankle isn’t!

  22. Cooper says:

    Congrats! From the pic it doesn’t look like conditions were too much worse from the day before when we climbed. I’m looking forward to going back and reading some of your previous entries now.

    Welcome home!

    • Mike says:

      Thanks, Cooper. It was great hiking with you and Anders for a few days. It rained on us the whole way down, so we took it pretty slow – didn’t get down until about 6 PM. Better safe than sorry. Who wants to get hurt after finishing?!

      Check back again after a while; we’ll be adding a lot of stuff; sort of filling in the blanks! Congratulations to you guys, too!

  23. Fred Knauf says:

    Mike (& Mel),

    I’m so very glad to hear you made it up to the terminus on Katahdin and completed your “hike of a life-time”. I shared your site with my through hiker brother in law and he loved your pictures. They brought back great memories of his 1977 trek.

    Rest a while and start the trek for the 46 high peaks in the Adirondacks next year once those trails re-open. Till then, enjoy the flatlands and your family!

    • Mike says:

      Fred – I think the walking/hiking I’ll be doing in the near future will be from the easy chair to the fridge and back again! Adirondack High Peaks? Nah (at least for now). I’m thinking about a cruise or a nice quiet beach with my wife somewhere!
      Thanks for following us – you ought to try it sometime (next time you have 5 or 6 months to blow and no obligations)! Gee… how’s work? ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. Kathy says:

    Going to sleep in your own bed rather than a sleeping bag in a shelter or in a motel room in Waynesboro PA no doubt includes a big smile of “We did it!” as you nod off….. Hearty congrats to you both, and so glad that troublesome ankle held up for the last half of your trek through the alternative reality of The Trail. Today’s decade anniversary of 9/11 truly emphasizes the power of family and friends, the strength we share, savoring each day — and you both certainly can put your own chapter to living life to its fullest. THANKS for such a wonderful travel-blog for those of us who aspire to make our own footsteps from GA to ME. You guys rock! Looking forward to staying in touch w/ your post-trail comments! If you’re ever back near the Mason -Dixon line we must meet in person!

  25. Joan says:

    Congratulations Mike & Melissa! Woo-hoo!!! I’ve enjoyed following along electronically.
    PS-Melissa, is there a “buff-est bride” competition? I’m sure you’d win!

  26. Jacob Liechty (Chevron) says:

    Hey, congratulations! Just wanted to say thanks for sharing a shelter with me during the hurricane. I (somewhat unwisely) decided to ford Long Pond Stream the next day (it involved a mile of bushwhacking), which is probably where I got ahead of you guys? Anyway, I hope you’re enjoying being back in the land of real beds and real food.

    – Chevron

  27. Mike says:

    Hey, Chevron! Great to hear from you! We ALSO forded Long Pond Stream that next day; in fact, we started to ford at the point where the trail crosses, got half way, and went back; it was WAY too swift! Someone on the north side then shouted to us that the guy ahead of us had crossed about a mile downstream. We were guessing that was you! So, we set off looking for the secret passage. We managed to cross, but the whole thing must have added about three hours to the trek. So we ended up staying at Cloud Pond Lean-to (no one goes there, it’s 0.4 off the trail).

    I’m liking the real bed, the real food, and if I’m stuck inside on a rainy day, there’s something other than a cheap romance novel to read!

    Congratulations on your success!
    Mike (LongTime)

  28. Patty Downing says:

    I am sure you don’t remember me, but we met very briefly in PA at the Pinnacle near Hamburg, PA. I was with a group of ladies and we ate lunch together at the summit of the Pinnacle, along with a few snakes. We were bombarding you with questions about your thru-hike. I have been following your blog ever since then (it was sometime in June). I am in awe of you and your daughter! (whom we did not get to meet that day). What an accomplishment. So happy for you! After reading about ‘trail angels’ on your blog, I aspire to be a ‘trail angel’ someday. All the best to you (and your daughter).

    • Mike says:

      I in fact, DO recall the day. A few of you shared some “extra” snacks with me! (I put “extra” in quotes, since there is perhaps no such thing as “extra” food to a thruhiker! For an aspiring trail angel, you’re already off to a good start. My daughter and I are both quite happy to have finished and to be in our respective homes! We’ll long remember the kindness, generosity and curiousness of folks like you we met along the way!

  29. Pingback: A LongTime Ago, in a State Not Too Far Away… | Mel and Mike Hike

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