November 1, 2017
With just 8.5 miles left of our AT thru-hike, the last day dawned to rainy gray drizzle. Once again we loaded packs into Edna’s van for the ride to Green Mountain Store, yesterday’s stopping point. There we ate breakfast with our hostess, enjoying cups of hot coffee and tea as well as delicious omelettes. As I hugged Edna good-bye, I could scarcely believe our hike was coming to an end. Our last two nights had been passed in comfort thanks to these wonderful friends. Now it was time to finish our quest.
Cold sprinkles of precipitation chilled our faces and slid down our necks as we hiked under slate-colored clouds. But the sunless day couldn’t dampen my feelings of anticipation. After eight months, our goal was practically in sight!
Water drops beaded across the backs of sassafras leaves and shimmered slightly on flame-colored maples and oaks. Their beauty reminded me to slow down and savor this last day.
I could scarcely contain my excitement as we reached the northern border of Pine Grove Furnace State Park. Our last half mile of trail was a delight – flat, wide, graveled, skirting a very scenic lake. Quite a civilized ending after the arduous hills, mountains, cliffs, and rocks we had traversed during our journey.
Dave and Edna surprised us once more by meeting us at the state park with a thermos of hot coffee. Such a thoughtful treat on this cold day! But even better than the coffee was the company as Edna walked that last half mile with us, then both our friends posed in front of the Appalachian Museum. Jay and I had last seen that building on June 21 – four and a half months ago! Four thousand fifty hikers registered their thru-hike attempt with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy this year. Only a quarter of those hikers finished. And here we were, taking the last steps in our 2,190 miles. Emotions threatened to overwhelm. We had done it!
Appalachian Trail Museum at Pine Grove Furnace State Park was a fitting end to our trek.