My 2012 thruhike took 235 days
AT miles hiked today: 18.6

Total AT miles hiked: 2184.2!!!!!!

I did it! I have completed my 2012 thruhike of the Appalachian Trail! Happy dance.......

The fundraiser for the clinic at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary (where I used to work) will continue until January 1st. You may have doubted I would do the whole thing, or disagreed with my strategy, but I walked the entire Appalachian Trail in 2012. So if you are able, please go to the "Donate Now" button on the right side bar of my blog to help out the rescued animals at the sanctuary.

We slept at the dojo last night and then Nigel fed us breakfast and coffee and drove us back to the trailhead early this morning. Thank you, Nigel! We found City Slicka tented not far from the road. He said he was coming to our party tonight. We chatted for a few minutes and then we hiked up the mountain while he broke camp. The weather was beautiful, the trail was in great condition and the walking was especially easy with my nearly empty pack. City Slicka passed us and we met for lunch at a shelter, but he said the water source was dry. Luckily I carried extra water since my pack was so light and I still had plenty. City Slicka said he saw a bear cross the trail near the powerline and he was five minutes behind me at the time. I never saw the bear and I am jealous. There was supposed to be a storm blowing in, and the wind blew, but it was not very cold.

I tried to meditate while I walked and sent my aunt thoughts of love and health and gratitude. At one point I felt like I saw her, looking young, radiant and beautiful. She accepted my offerings but didn't seem to understand why I was sad. I tried to enjoy the day and not stay sad. I remembered people, places and experiences on the trail, and thought about the future. What will I do after this? How will this change me? Am I different than I was when I started? Will anybody come to our party? What will happen to my aunt? Will my dog be happy to see me? I hope my car still runs. My mind was not serene, but I enjoyed the view from the ridge through the bare trees. The mountains to the east were blue, there was a line of hazy white clouds above them, then a line of dark blue clouds topped by more white clouds. It was beautiful and I felt my spirits lift.

I love this trail. I already miss this trail.

The trail today would have been lovely for a night hike until we came to a massive tree that had blown down, tearing up the trail when its roots tore out of the ground. This was on the side of a steep ravine and the choices were either to try and follow other tracks above the blowdown across shifting dirt and try not to slide down the ravine, or to climb down the roots of the tree into the hollow they created and edge over to where the trail continued. Eagle Eye and I both chose to climb down the roots and we survived! That was scary. City Slicka was waiting at the road and he said he had gone down the roots, too, but had tripped and almost fallen into the ravine. We called Nigel and walked the last .8 of a mile to where he met us with the car and congratulations for me.

Back at the dojo we realized nobody was coming but those of us who were already there, so we had a small but fun party and stayed up much too late. During the party I got the news that my aunt had died. We both finished our big adventures (hers being life itself) on the same day. I went into the bathroom and cried, called my dad and cried with him, then went back out to the party and struggled to be happy and celebrate, but I felt distant and removed from the proceedings. I drank a bottle of wine and some beers and laughed sometimes and cried sometimes and finally went to sleep at 4am.